iHost aims to provide a secure web hosting service if you need to setup a departmental website or publish information for conferences, seminars, and projects related to teaching and research activities. With iHost, you can focus on web application development and leave system maintenance tasks, such as setting up a firewall, applying critical system patches, and system backup to ITSC. You can also apply for a domain name within the ust.hk namespace (e.g. itsc.ust.hk). Once you have an iHost account, you can start publishing web applications to enable others to easily access your website.

Protected and Secured SAFE Features

  • Dedicated subnet with firewall protection
  • Hardened Operating System
  • Up-to-date system patches
  • Limited ports for secure network protocol (SSH, Secure FTP)
  • Physically protected with access control
  • Storage Area Network (SAN) infrastructure
  • Uninterruptible Power Supply (UPS) system
  • System alarm monitoring
  • Regular system backup
  • Support PHP scripting language
  • Support Java Servlet/JSP
  • Support CGI execution
  • MySQL database support
  • Domain name within the ust.hk namespace (e.g. itsc.ust.hk)
  • No hardware procurement
  • Maintenance free

Here is what you need to do to get started.

Choose a Domain Name

Faculties or departments that wish to host their website on iHost can apply for a domain name in the ust.hk name space for easy reference. A valid domain name registration request must meet the following criteria

  • The domain name is primarily requested in the interests of HKUST rather than for personal use.
  • The requested domain name should not contain any reserved or sensitive wording.
  • Obscene names are not allowed.
  • Alphabets, digits and hyphens can be used, but a hyphen should not be used as the first character of a domain name string. Upper and lower case letters can be used but the domain name string is case insensitive.
  • Use the shortest domain name as far as possible. A domain name should be three to 20 characters.
  • To minimize the chance of duplicating domain names, you are advised to choose a unique domain name (usually an abbreviation) that can best represent the function/nature of your service or event.
  • All domain names are registered on a first-come-first-served basis.
  • You should inform ITSC if the requested domain name is no longer needed.
  • Some departments may have their own delegated sub-domain (for example, “cse.ust.hk”, “math.ust.hk”, “bm.ust.hk”,). If you want to form a domain name under a delegated sub-domain (such as “xxx.cse.ust.hk”), you may need to contact the system administrator of the relevant department managing the sub-domain.
  • When necessary, domain name applicants may be asked to provide further information to support the request.
  • ITSC reserves the right to make the final decision on approving a domain name.

Apply for an iHost Account

To apply for an iHost account together with a relevant domain name representing your site, please submit an online request via Application for HKUST iHost Service.

Assign a New Password/Password Reset

Once you receive your iHost account information, you are strongly recommended to change the account password before publishing any web pages for security reasons. To assign the account a new password:

  1. Log on to the iHost server through any SSH application e.g. “Secure Shell” in download.ust.hk or ssh (in UNIX server).
  2. Change the password using the following command:
  3. Type in the new password and re-enter again for verification.

If you need to reset your iHost account password, please send an email to cchelp@ust.hk. (For MySQL password, visit Reset mysql password)

Check Your Quota

Follow the steps below to check the available disk space of your iHost account:

  1. Log on to the iHost server through any SSH application e.g. ssh webhost1.ust.hk
  2. Use the command below to check your quota:
    /usr/sbin/quota -v <account_name>

e.g. /usr/sbin/quota -v webitsc if you have the “webitsc” iHost account.

Publish Your Web Pages

Your iHost account already provides a public_html directory with proper access rights. You can publish your web pages under the public_html directory using any applications that support secure FTP, such as FileZilla, Secure File Transfer Client, and Dreamweaver. After you have published your home page, you can access it through the following URL:


e.g. http://webhost1.ust.hk/~webitsc/index.html if you have a “webitsc” iHost account, or http://itsc.ust.hk for an “itsc” domain name.

The web server returns the index.html file under your “~/public_html” directory as the default web page. If the file index.html cannot be found, a “Forbidden” page will be displayed.