Web hosting is a term that’s often thrown around on the Internet, usually through incessant ads for website builders. You can also hear it from entrepreneurs, eCommerce gurus, online businessmen, and even a friend who wants to succeed in blogging. But if you start reading about it, you might encounter unknown terms such as bandwidth, GB, domain transfer, or website migration. Even worse, you might start wondering what computer parts such as CPU, RAM, or SSD have to do with it. Luckily, we’ll clarify that once and for all, as we get into different types of web hosting.
1. Shared web hosting
We’ll begin with the most common type of web hosting – shared hosting. The name says it all – you’ll share a single server and its resources (storage space, CPU, RAM, or bandwidth) with several (but usually hundreds of) other websites. You won’t have access to any of their files or personal information, and neither will they to yours, and the reputation of their websites can affect yours, and vice versa. Additionally, you can’t expect impeccable performance with heavy traffic, which is its biggest downfall. On the other hand, the monthly price is extremely low since the server upkeep costs are shared between many users. To get the best deal, pick a reputable web hosting provider right away, and avoid shady multi-year contracts you can’t back out of. Finally, only use shared web hosting if you’re a first-time website owner or need a staging/landing/portfolio website.
2. Virtual Private Server (VPS) hosting
VPS hosting is a step-up from shared hosting in terms of performance and security. It uses the same principle – you’ll share a single server with multiple users. However, its resources are sectioned-off in into virtual partitions, providing more isolation between the users, but a full system instance for each. This also means that every user can get a very precise portion of the server resources. Even better, some hosting providers allow you to tinker with server configuration via Control Panel or command-line interface. As for pricing, VPS hosting tends to be on the cheaper side. If we’re being honest, the primary difficulty is determining how many resources you’ll need ahead of time.
3. Cloud hosting
Cloud hosting refers to a network of a large number of inter-connected servers that share resources, making it look like a single giant server. This type of web hosting eliminates the need to pre-plan the number of resources like VPS and is ideal for scaling up resources as your website grows. Simultaneously, it provides a failsafe in terms of close to 100% uptime, since you’re not “putting all eggs into one basket”. Plus, the server network is designed for redundancy, so even if multiple servers die permanently, no data loss will occur. The main downside is that the price usually isn’t monthly. Instead, it’s either hourly or calculated based on consumed resources. So, it can be incredibly cheap or exorbitantly expensive, depending on your use case.
4. Dedicated server hosting
It’s finally time to present dedicated hosting, which, as the name suggests, means you’re “the boss” and have a server or servers to yourself. They’ll still be rented and physically located in the hosting provider’s data center, and they’ll take care of its well-being. But, you’re free to configure it however you like and use its resources for whatever you want. Furthermore, these hosting plans usually come with unlimited bandwidth, so handling heavy traffic won’t be a concern. Speaking of price, it’s as you guessed – very expensive. We’d only justify it if you need regular access to reliable, heavy-duty servers for business purposes.
5. Managed web hosting
Managed hosting is less of a web hosting type and more of a service type. It can be part of any hosting type we mentioned, but what makes it stand out is convenience. To clarify, you pay a little extra for the service provider to maintain, optimize, secure, update, and backup your website regularly. These types of hosting plans usually come with 24/7 Customer Support too. So, who is the ideal customer? The first group that comes to mind is those that have no experience with web hosting. The second group that’s a perfect fit are website owners who want to spend their time marketing and growing a website or running a business rather than troubleshooting. Unfortunately, such users will have to give up on control of the server’s optimization or configuration.
6. Reseller web hosting
Are you building websites for others while providing development or design services? If so, strike a deal with the hosting company you’re using, and become an intermediary. You can use their infrastructure while offering your own web hosting services, and they usually allow you to charge any price you decide on. It t complete virtual access to the server through a special Control Panel. This will allow you to allow or restrict access, monitor performance and uptime, delegate resources, perform maintenance, troubleshoot, update, and perform other menial tasks. While it can be a great in-house service and source of recurring income, you must provide Customer Support and oversee billing.
7. Colocation web hosting
Colocation web hosting represents renting storage place in the racks of the hosting company’s data center. You have to provide the physical (“colo”) server, and they’ll supply the Internet connection, electricity, and cooling, but not much else. You’ll have to take care of maintenance, operating system configuration, backup, software/hardware changes, and everything else. On top of it all, it represents the most expensive option so far. Even worse, it requires significant technical know-how and expertise, plus physical access to the data center.
8. Home server web hosting
Self-service web hosting means you need to buy the server, prepare storage (and backup storage, too), and provide power, cooling, and Internet access with sufficient bandwidth. Additionally, you’ll have to configure the operating system and software and maintain hardware. Don’t forget consistent maintenance, and the roles of a system administrator, and a customer service representative. Also, you must invest in nearly constant hardware or software upgrades. Most importantly, you must purchase a static IP or a dynamic DNS service.