When it comes to choosing the right Web host, information about topics like customer service and tech support are available in spades. But what about the nitty-gritty specifics of Web hosting? While choosing amidst the options for hosting your business’ website — including shared, VPS, and dedicated hosting — may not be an exact science, it does require careful research and extensive planning. The first step of the process is to cultivate a thorough understanding of each option. Let’s explore each hosting type below.
Shared Web Hosting
Shared hosting is the most commonly used hosting option, and offers each website client a shared portion of a main server. The server is shared with hundreds or even thousands of other websites, so it does not generally allow for any sort of customization. Otherwise, users can utilize this space anyway they wish within their allotted RAM or CPU limits.
Because it is shared, the available bandwidth may be limit at times as well. It is the cheapest of all the hosting options, however, making it a great option for blogs and small websites that don’t get much traffic. As site popularity and traffic grows, other options will need to be considered.
Virtual Private Servers
Virtual Private Servers (VPS) represent a middle ground between shared and dedicated hosting options. Users are still only allotted a portion of a shared server, but they are offered a significantly higher amount of freedom with regard to server and software customization. VPS servers also offer a generous and unvarying amount of bandwidth and server resources, and are typically less expensive than dedicated servers. Certain CPU and RAM resources are reserved for each website on the server, depending on each website’s individual package or plan, and VPS customers usually begin their hosting relationships with clean operating systems that can be configured based on their individual needs.
Although available bandwidth is often sufficient, neither it nor available storage space is unlimited. Therefore, if users are working with large amounts of data, numerous images, or other types of media, these resources can become saturated quickly. Furthermore, because customization is an option, users must have significant knowledge of what they can control.
Busier websites generally require the capabilities offered by VPS. Because they are designed to manage complex workloads, they are able to work faster than shared options and manage more users and complex demands.
Dedicated hosting options consist of entire servers to store and host individual websites. According to iPage blogger Jessica Ann in her article, “What is VPS and Dedicated Hosting?,” dedicated servers offer near-complete control of the operating systems and the ability to customize both the hardware and software at will — without worry over routine maintenance or necessary repairs. They can be costly, but “from a performance point of view, [dedicated servers] are the best choice. Dedicated servers include vast space and bandwidths, giving them the capacity to process and store large quantities of information.
Because such extensive control and configuring is allotted to these customers, system failures — while unlikely — can take longer than other hosting options to recover. This can equate to the possibility of greater downtime. However, the nature of these administrative rights also means greater security of sensitive information.
Cloud hosting is one of the more recent options made available to website owners. It offers benefits similar to those of dedicated servers without the need to deal with hardware. As a de-centralized system, if one component fails, another can easily take over with minimal to no effect on performance.
De-centralization does indicate that sensitive data is less secure than it would be with more traditional server options. It also demands thorough knowledge of Web server software. In part due to the fact that this method is decentralized, cloud hosting options are completely scalable. Easily downgraded or upgraded based on client needs, cloud hosting boasts generally reasonable fees based on usage rather than flat rates afforded to other hosting options. For this reason, however, it is important to pay attention to usage because it can exceed even the most generous budgets.
Factors to Consider
Because every website has different needs, there are a wide range of factors to consider when deciding on a hosting option. What is an effective solution for one company may be wholly insufficient for another. Host specialties and focus areas may influence a final decision. Some hosts dedicate resources primarily to startups, while others market to medium-sized and growing businesses. Another issue to keep in mind is the availability of special features, such as energy-saving practices, multiple data centers, and free domain privacy.
Because the intentions for a website impact space, performance, and bandwidth, these factors should be assessed in relationship to one another. E-commerce sites have more complex needs than basic blogs, for example. Customer service is another benefit that website owners sometimes neglect to consider when shopping for a host. Those who are technologically savvy may not mind limited staff availability, but novices will likely require more assistance. Do they outsource customer assistance services? Is it possible to speak to a live person? Are there additional fees for assistance? What measures will be taken to resolve any issues?
There’s much to consider when hiring a high-quality Web host. An immediate indicator of a company worthy of further investigation is staff willingness to answer these and all other relevant questions. When searching for a Web host, find one that offers options for shared, VPS, and dedicated hosting services, all of which are accompanied with customer service available any time of day, and every day of the year. Other services to consider are WordPress hosting, marketing services, website management, email, e-commerce, and domain services, as well as scripting and add-ons.