Although it may come as a surprise – website hosting can be your best friend (or a deadly foe) when it comes to the success of your website.
Why is that so? Essentially, web hosting is a place where you store all of your website’s files and data. Think of it as a foundation for a house where your website lives. As you already know, if you build a house on a shaky foundation, it may collapse at anytime. The same thing can be applied here – if you choose the web hosting that doesn’t really fit your needs (we’ll discuss this later on), your website could crash. And you wouldn’t want that to happen, right?
Without further ado, let’s have a look at different types of web hosting available and help you choose the one that’ll be a perfect fit.
Shared hosting means exactly that – you’ll be sharing server space with other users.
How does that work?
Think of a server as a very powerful computer, with its own resources like hard drive space, CPU speed, and RAM. Certain servers can have more than 1,000 users, and each user might have several websites. Just by doing simple math, we end up with a staggering number of potential 5,000 websites hosted on a single server. Quite a figure, right?
Even though a server is a very powerful machine, its resources are limited. When sharing server space, you’re bound to share available resources with the other 4,999 sites from the above example.
Sharing is caring, right?
Well, as it turns out, not necessarily.
Let’s consider the following – if a certain site has high traffic (i.e. number of site visitors), then the amount of data sent and received by its visitors will be tremendous as well. This can eat up the resources in the blink of an eye. As a consequence, your site might end up running as slow as molasses in January, taking ages to load properly.
But nowadays, the majority of hosting companies try hard to keep everything up and running by identifying high-traffic (or in any way problematic) sites and are working on fixing any issues that may arise as soon as possible.
When to use it?
If you are looking to start your own blog, setting up a small business with a limited budget, or if you’re a freelancer who is developing and testing a website, then shared hosting might be a great fit. It’s a budget-friendly way to start expanding your client/reader/customer base.
A shared hosting type (more of a hosting package, actually) that is gaining popularity among freelancers and small business, managed WordPress hosting, should also be mentioned here. It’s designed in such a way that it makes your life as simple as possible – your hosting provider is in charge of all the tech stuff, which leaves you plenty of room to focus on your business.
Virtual Private Server (VPS) hosting
Once the timing is just right – your traffic has increased and your business is blooming – you should take the plunge and switch to VPS hosting.
How is VPS different?
Although VPS hosting has something in common with the shared one (you are still expected to share server space with other users) there are some notable differences in the way this is achieved.
First off, VPS comes with something called virtual machine monitor or hypervisor. Essentially, a hypervisor is software used to create and run multiple virtual machines (virtual servers) on a single host machine (the host server). It’s pretty much a one-server-to-host-them-all situation. This means that, even though VPS share one physical server, each user gets their own virtual server with an accompanying HDD space, operating system, RAM, and processing resources.
The advantage of this is obvious – since every single user is allocated with their own slice of equally-split resources (no trespassing, please) your site’s performance is less likely to be struck by the “bad neighbor effect”.
What’s more, the number of users rarely exceeds 20, which decreases the overall demand on the server and allows each user to have more server space.
Another thing the users hold dear is the flexibility and scalability of VPS hosting. VPS gives you the possibility to configure your own environment, as well as to increase available resources and face the rise in the site’s traffic without much hassle.
When to use it?
Some of the strong points of VPS are its relatively low cost (some of the low-end packages start at $10 per month, but the average starter kit is around $50), flexibility, resemblance to a dedicated server and scalability.
Based on its key features, VPS might be the hosting type that does the trick if you are an advanced user who is in need of more control over the environment, a web developer who wants to run a particular configuration, or the owner of an e-commerce site that uses a specifically designed software.
Dedicated server hosting
The biggest difference between dedicated server hosting and VPS is exclusivity. With a dedicated server, you are the one who rents the entire server, meaning you don’t have to share your server space with other users, and you have a great deal of control over its setup and configuration.
Do I need to be a lean, mean, tech-savvy machine?
The answer to this is – yes, you need to be proficient with server technology, at least to a certain extent. You are not required to be a tech-whizz per se, but you should have the basic know-how when it comes to server configuration and management. The good thing is that you can choose between two options:
- Managed dedicated hosting – this basically means that you will have tech support/server admin who will manage your environment instead of you. Still, you should expect that you’ll be performing a few specific technical tasks from time to time, so you are not completely hands-off.
- Unmanaged dedicated hosting – If you opt for this, you are completely on your own and have the ultimate server control. Everything that needs to be done (from OS and software installation to security), you are the one to do it. However, this can work out only if you are a tech connoisseur and have enough time to set aside for server maintenance and monitoring.
When to use it?
First things first – freedom does come with a price. The average price is above $100 a month, depending on the server configuration you choose.
Also, putting all of your eggs in one basket might be risky, especially if you are the only one who is responsible for hardware and software issues, since there won’t be anyone there to soften the blow if things go awry.
This being said, a dedicated server might be a better fit if you have highly specialized hardware requirements, need a high level of control when it comes to the privacy of your data, or you run a large business site with high hits and you’re looking to avoid customer loss due to the site’s downtime.
Cloud hosting, often dubbed as “the future of web hosting”, is in a way an upgraded version of VPS hosting. While VPS is a hosting solution that creates virtual servers on a single physical server, cloud hosting is the king of the virtual castle whose modus operandi is “divide and rule”. Basically, it takes a massive number of physical servers, links them all together in a giant network that acts as the virtual host server, allowing its users to spread their resources across different servers.
OK, but what does this mean exactly?
Once your site becomes a part of a bigger network of servers, there are many perks waiting for you right behind the corner.
First off – scalability of cloud VPS is simply astonishing. Since the cloud combines a gigantic number of servers into one, its resources are practically limitless.
Yes, you’ve read that correctly.
Whatever your needs may be when it comes to scaling up your resources, cloud VPS can handle them without breaking a sweat. What’s even better – you are only expected to pay for the resources you end up using. Also, cloud VPS is generally easy to use, and some hosting services such as Cloud With Me are working on simplifying them even further (you can finish the installation process in just three quick steps, and the user-friendly dashboard makes your site management simple).
In addition, cloud VPS offers strong protection from a certain type of site attacks which are called DDoS (Distributed Denial of Service) attacks. These attacks aim at crashing the server which hosts the site by flooding it with traffic. Since cloud VPS has many servers on the grid, the traffic is spread among them which mitigates the effects of the attack.
When to use it?
Due to its scalability, speed, and impeccable uptime, this solution is great for companies that seek high performance and the possibility to grow and customize their servers, and for those who expect their site to grow and face abrupt surges in the number of visitors.
Colocation means that you want to “co-locate” your own server by renting rack space from a particular data center. The data center provides the power, connectivity, bandwidth (the amount of data traffic), and IP.
As you can see, it’s very similar to the dedicated hosting, but in this case, you are the one who owns the hardware, which means that you can upgrade it as you see fit.
However, this also means that if your hardware fails, you are left to fend for yourself and it may take you some time to have the site up and running again.
When to use it?
This option is a costly one, especially when we include the money you need to set aside for a decent server. Also, since the price depends on the data traffic, the costs can vary considerably.
At the same time, colocation provides a great level of security for your data since your server is stored in a data center which is secure by its nature.
This is a potential fit for companies who want to ensure that data confidentiality is unbreachable, and have their own IT in-house team that will manage and maintain the server.
Self-service web hosting
This is probably the ultimate type of hosting, because you are basically building your very own data center (albeit a smaller one). It’s a DIY project, where you need to take care of data center space, buy server(s), install the required software, provide cooling and power, employ staff equipped to handle it on a day-to-day basis, and so on.
When to use it?
Let’s face it – this will cost you. A lot. That’s why this type of hosting is intended for large companies that have enough finances to cover the expenses, and can’t afford any hiccups when it comes to the running of their site.
There you have it – six hosting types for you to choose from. Keep in mind that it’s essential to choose wisely if you want your site (and your business) to be successful.
Once you determine what your exact needs are, anticipate the potential growth of your site, set a budget, evaluate and assess all the advantages and drawbacks of each of the hosting types mentioned above, and you are ready to make the right decision.