Certain elements of web design can be confusing and somewhat technical to most of us. Often hosting is no exception and can confuse people to the degree where they don’t fully understand the different types available to individuals and businesses today.
Like with most things doing them properly is no easy task. There is much to consider, and which is the best web hosting service for you and your business.
This article attempts to explain what hosting is and the sorts of web hosting available, highlighting exactly how they work, and the pros and cons tailored towards your business.
Just like on your own computer, files are stored so you can access them at any time, instead of your hard drive, they are held on another computer, known as a server.
When you open up your browser and view a website you can do so because the browser has downloaded various files embedded with code and converted this into something you can actually see on your desktop.
Servers are much more powerful than laptops as they need to be to manage all the data of the people accessing the website simultaneously, particularly if it is a popular one. Servers are made up of components such as CPU’s, inbuilt memory and its own operating system.
People owning their own website will need to effectively rent the space of the owner of the server, which effectively allows you to view your website. Additional services like server management, backups, malware or virus scanning and so on will also be featured with a good service provider. This process has come to be known as web hosting, and the person or business that does this is known as the hosting provider.
Web hosting entails more than one thing. For example, most hosts offer multiple services which may differ vastly in terms of price and additional service features included in the package.
One of the first and most basic decisions you need to make is to decide on the type of hosting you require.
It is true to say that there are numerous ways to distinguish web hosting by their offers and features, level of management, bonus add on’s such as unlimited emails and so on. However, one of the main areas to look at is the technology used for the server. The technical part is the area that predetermines other areas such as the security, performance and functionality moving forward.
Because this makes such a difference, instead of looking at companies and prices first, you are better off focusing first on figuring out which of the different types of web hosting is the right kind for you. After that, you can still look at what’s available. This article will attempt to illustrate the four common types of web hosting, allowing you to come to a decision for you and your business.
Shared hosting does exactly what it says. Simply put sharing your hosting account is where your site is located on the same server as several other websites. Depending on the setup of your website and the hosting provider itself will determine how many other websites will be effectively sharing the space provided.
It’s more common than not these days for a site to share space with hundreds and even thousands of others.
The main advantage here is that you share the cost of the server with many other people requiring the same or a similar service. If the hosting provider has the ability to put several thousands of clients all on one server, this then allows them to spread the operating cost among the many customers using the service.
For this one reason alone, this is why the shared hosting option is the most affordable. It is reasonable to expect to pay around £5 - £10 a month, which is ideal for people on a budget or just starting out a new business venture.
Shared hosting also benefits the new user as the setup doesn’t involve much configuration meaning you will be able to concentrate on the building of your website.
The main downside is basically sharing a server with many parties. As mentioned earlier, a server is a computer with resources like its hard drive space, CPU speed and RAM etc.
This means that just like when your laptop or iMac will slow down when too many programs run simultaneously, the same will happen when the server has too much running at once.
It is possible to run into problems on a shared server as to many websites can accumulate a lot of the processing power, this could be down to an increase in traffic or a fault in the coding somewhere. This means the resources are limited and somewhat drained by more demanding sites which alternatively leads to what is known as downtime, meaning your website is not reachable or a reduction in your sites loading speed.
This is one of the main reasons shared hosting has become known for having the most problematic effects compared to all the other different types of web hosting. Although many hosts do their best to avoid this scenario, due to its nature of being the cheaper option you tend to get what you pay for.
Hosting is ideal for housing sites that don’t get a lot of traffic (yet), so static brochure sites, development and test pages, personal sites or many other examples of websites where uptime is not a huge problem.
For people on tighter budgets shared hosting proves a viable option, as this will allow you to create some sort of web presence in a business’s very early stages where traffic will not be an issue to the server.
VPS means a Virtual Private Server. It is the most well rounded among the different types of web hosting. This type of server is still a shared environment, but it differs in its setup to shared hosting.
All websites on a VPS will share one server, however it houses multiple separate virtual machines. This can be known as the middle ground between shared hosting and obtaining your own dedicated server.
VPS has become to be known as more reliable and stable than shared hosting. Unlike numbers running into the thousands of websites on a shared hosting, VPS is usually limited to 10-20 websites per server. Straight away this reduces the demand on the server.
All the resources are split evenly, and no website is allowed any preference, meaning they cannot exceed their limits. Once the limit of what is assigned to you is hit, your site may go down but, the others will remain stable.
Virtual machines help achieve this as it creates a separation within the server. Meaning one host on a standard shared hosting won’t be able to interrupt the activities of everybody else.
As your account is contained within a virtual machine, you will be able to make changes without affecting others. This provides a lot more in terms of flexibility allowing you to customize your setup. A shared host simply wouldn’t be able to provide this feature because it would mean changing everyone else’s setup to.
This type of hosting proves that here is actually little to say negatively about it. The main issue you could argue is, that it costs more than your standard hosting packages. If your budget is limited, you would need to find a solution that works for you and your businesses goals.
You can be expected to pay around £40 up to £200 a month although prices do vary depending on the packages. When your business gets the chance to gain momentum you will hit the higher realms of this type of web hosting, where you are probably making enough money to easily cover the costs.
Budget permitting, we would recommend updating to VPS. Although the expense is greater, even lower tier websites would do a lot better than shared hosting solutions.
We would recommend any website that starts to gain a relatively large amount of traffic to consider making the move. Be cautious however when browsing any deals such as the start up costs, memory, storage facilities, bandwidth needed etc.
As the name implies, the dedicated server means you get the server all to yourself. This provides an array of benefits, but it is also important to mention the potential flaws for businesses looking to embark on this endeavour.
The main advantage of having your own dedicated server is that you don’t have the issues that comes with sharing your server with the hundreds if not thousands of sites that already do so. No other website has the potential to steal any of your resources or would act as a security risk or cause businesses other concerns.
With the luxury of having your own dedicated server, you essentially get the computer all to yourself. Customisation is key here, allowing you the flexibility to come up with potentially your own operating system, the amount or type of memory use and so on.
The main issue is the cost. Renting a dedicated server comes at a high price. Prices can start at around £60/month and go all the way up to £300 + /month. It is important to note that should your business need this type of capacity, then your more than likely to easily cover the costs that comes with the dedicated server.
Knowledge is most definitely power, and that is certainly the case when talking server technology. Managed dedicated hosting solutions do exist and do come recommended however you’ll still need to incorporate your own expertise to stay on top of things. For the technically advanced, there is the option to obtain an unmanaged service where you would need to install the Operating System yourself, as well as the necessary tools needed to run this type of web server such as security scanning, malware removal etc. This level of server would require the technically minded individual who is fully aware of the rewards and the risks involved.
It is debatable whether there is a need for dedicated hosting as the need for having your own server is declining these days. It is fair to say that it can take more hits than a traditional VPS, however, this is nothing close to today’s cloud-based systems can provide. Amongst all the different types of web hosting discussed in this article, this option is the least likely for people to use.
Cloud hosting is similar to VPS hosting in that you also have your site on a virtual machine. But, unlike having the one physical server, your website is amongst a large network of other computers which it can source the power it needs. This trend in hosting is quickly becoming the norm, and more people are aware of cloud hosting than ever before.
When thinking of a cloud-based system, instead of scheduling one computer into several virtual machines, it instead combines several computers into one powerful virtual server. This can then issue its resources whenever it is needed.
With cloud-based services, you are only billed for the resources you end up using. This has proven to be a more efficient way to scale the usage with a fair plan that meets people’s needs as and when they use it.
In a cloud network you can spread the risk of attacks from an over whelming amount of myriad attacks that causes a system to crash. These servers offer a better security solution to businesses, as the likelihood of overwhelming these giants is extremely unlikely, and it would have the resources to deal with the problem as opposed to enabling the system to crash entirely.
Although the cost of the cloud-based system is somewhat fairer and more manageable, this doesn’t mean that is easy to predict. Many cloud hosting providers work with a mix of fixed pricing and fees set up on a pay-as-you-go basis.
Cloud systems are ideal if you want to be able to scale your website a lot further than traditional systems would allow. The way the world is heading, it is likely that cloud-based systems will eventually replace shared and dedicated server options as technology continues to grow. In the future, it will likely replace shared and dedicated options as technology becomes more advanced.
Choosing a hosting package is no walk in the park, and the very fact that you are researching the topic is a good place to start. Understanding the different types of hosting available will definitely help you come to the decision that best suites you and your business. Should you be just starting out, it would make total sense to go with shared hosting, as this will accommodate the needs for your business, and get the ball rolling so to speak. You can always transfer at a later date, as you become more knowledgeable about servers and your business expands.
Try to look at several options and weigh up the pros and the cons. Shop around to help put your own mind at ease and allow your business the right environment when going live.
Should you have any questions or need help with any of the information discussed in this article then please get in touch via our telephone number or email contact information. Alternatively fill in our online query form and we will get back to you.