A web hosting (or a web hosting service) is a type of Internet service that enables you to publish a website online through a web host. A web host is like a storage space, where it keeps all your pages and other files to your website, which can be then be accessed by your computers that are connected to the Internet. Your website has a domain which is connected to the Internet Protocol (IP) address which identifies a specific computer or laptop.
What to look for in a web host
Below is a list of features credible web hosting companies offer regardless of the web hosting package chosen by their customers:
Regardless of the web hosting brand you choose
- Uptime guarantee
- Automated backups – Backups that save your data in offsite locations
- Tech support
- Content delivery network (CDN) – for fast load time
- Database support
- Good bandwidth: How much traffic your site can accommodate
- Storage for site’s files
- Shell access – this is more advanced users who want to access command line remotely
- Email accounts: Corporate email accounts like firstname.lastname@example.org
This isn’t an exhaustive list, but it’s something to compare against when comparing web hosting providers. After all, you want the best to power your website.
The three common types of web hosting
Although web hosting refers to hosting websites, it can also be applied to storing other data like your files, pictures, music, games, documents or any content. Here we discuss the three types of common web hosting services: cloud, shared and dedicated.
Cloud hosting service is a type of web hosting service that is the newest and most innovative type of hosting platform.
Unlike other types of web hosting, like shared or dedicated, that rely on only one server, cloud hosting is based on clustered multiple servers. It is a part of the cloud computing technology, which involves a large number of computers that are connected to a network (such as the Internet) that sends data and communications in real time.
Since cloud hosting runs on several machines, you can be guaranteed that your data is safe and secured, and never will be lost. Even if one machine or server gets broken, the other machine will serve as a back up for your data.
This type of service is definitely more powerful and dependable and therefore it performs much better than a shared or dedicated hosting service.
There are many benefits customers will get from this type of service. It is a highly customizable web hosting service which allows you to expand or reduce the number of servers to make sure that the servers keep on running depending on one’s demands. It is fast, secure, highly-customizable, capable of containing a high amount of Internet traffic, as well as cost-efficient.
Cloud hosting is great if you need to scale your site beyond traditional servers. However, VPS or cloud hosting won’t offer much of a difference if you run a small website. Also, many hosts are bringing in cloud based VPS because of the advantages it offers to such companies. Therefore, even if you’re signed up for VPS hosting, you might be unknowingly using a cloud host. Popular providers of cloud hosting include AWS, Google Cloud Platform, Linode and Dreamhost.
Shared hosting it is a type of web hosting service where multiple various websites (with their own domains) are run from a single Web server.
Most web hosting service companies provide this type, and most smaller websites work with this type of virtual hosting as well. However, as many users share only one server, there’s a big chance that they experience from bad to worse performance. And the more users depend on one server, the more likely that it will not hold much bigger web traffic.
But there are advantages that outweigh the drawbacks. In fact, this is the most preferred kind of web hosting because, first of all, it is affordable. Second, shared this kind of service saves you from wasting much time on server maintenance since there are professional experts to handle it.
So is it a good idea to invest in shared hosting? Well, it depends. It can be a great option for static websites, test sites, and anything that doesn’t have a lot of traffic. It can also be a great pick for site owners who don’t have a lot of budget, as it allows people to set up a web presence even if they’re not in an ideal positon for doing so. Hence, shared web hosting contributes to web equality. Some of the popular companies that offer this type of hosting include InMotion, Siteground and Bluehost.
3. VPS (Half-Shared)
VPS server too is a type of shared hosting, but its configuration is quite different. Though all websites on a virtual private server utilize a single server, they house dozens of individual virtual machines. This makes them feel as if they’re the middle ground between a dedicated server and having a shared host. However, VPS is stable and more reliable than shared options because only 10-20 sites are allowed per server. Also, the resources are evenly split between the machines, and no one has the grant to exceed the allocated limit.
Another benefit of VPS is that the hosting is scalable. Since the user is operating a virtual machine that utilizes a specific percentage of available resources, adding what’s available at your disposal isn’t a problem. This gives a peace of mind to people who anticipate their site traffic to grow.
However, VPS costs more than shared hosting, and may not be suitable for those on a tight budget. The second drawback is that the complex set up adds more responsibility at the users’end. If you can’t figure out how it works, you could end up wiping crucial software or files without realizing it. So get educated before you invest in VPS hosting.
If you have enough budget, a VPS host is a good option to go with. While it will cost you a little more than shared hosting, the low-tier option is better than high-tier shared hosting. Also, you’d be able to scale whenever you get more traffic. With that said, make sure to see what your money will get you in terms of storage, CPU memory, bandwidth, etc. Dreamhost and inMotion hosting have some of the best VPS solutions.
Dedicated hosting service is another type of virtual hosting wherein an entity or organization leases its entire server to an individual or an organization and not shared with anyone else, hence it is “dedicated” only for that particular individual or organization.
Many prefer this kind of web hosting service because it gives them flexibility and control over their server, including upgrading on the operating systems, hardware, firmware, and a lot more. Usually, the entire server leased is housed in a data operating center, where the host provides you with other full services such as system administration or web development.
Here you have it, the three most common forms of web hosting services, as they are the vital part of any website in order for it to become successful. This article hopes that you have read and understood all of them so that it will help you in arriving at the best decision about which of them works best for you or your company.
Does dedicated web hosting make sense? Even though VPS web hosting is catching on, a dedicated web host can take a lot more traffic. However, it’s not as scalable as cloud hosting. Moreover, a low end dedicated server package is costlier than a high end VPS package. Whoever invests in a dedicated server should, therefore, look at the resources available to them.
Linux vs Windows OS: What’s The Best Option for Web Hosting?
Most of web hosting providers will also let you pick between a Linux and a Windows OS for your server. The choice, in the end, will be dependent on what software you wish to use. If you prefer running a site on WordPress, it’s best to go with Linux. The reason this is important is because the wrong type of OS means the software may not work on your server properly. Also, it’s worth noting that most live websites function on Linux rather than Windows, and having a Windows OS on your personal computer has nothing to do with the choice of web hosting OS.
What Factors to Consider When Choosing a Web Host?
Picking a web host can be a challenging task and requires a good amount of consideration. The first step is knowing what’s out there, and hopefully by now you have some background on this. If it’s going to be your first site or blog, it’s best to go with shared hosting, as you can always switch to a larger setup later. Only if you’re getting the traffic that can’t be accommodated by shared hosting should you consider VPS, cloud or dedicated servers.
Additionally, you should look at several web hosting brands when making a decision. Some good names include Hostgator, inMotion, Dreamhost, Bluehost and Siteground. Do some research and find out what’s being offered in terms of bandwidth, CDN usage and other resources that could be quantified. And don’t forget to see any additional features you may require.
At the end of it all there should be a couple of shortlisted favorite at your disposal. From thereon, it’s all about personal preference. Talk to support to get a feel of what’s right for you.
What Type of Web Hosting Should I Go with?
Amongst the three types of web hosting we’ve discussed here, the dedicated one is the least required. The only time it makes sense to invest in a dedicated host is when you want utmost privacy of your data or you have specialized needs when it comes to hardware. Otherwise, cloud or high-end VPS hosting should work just fine.