Many individuals and businesses require a website, whether for a personal blog or to keep customers informed.
In order to have a website, among other requirements, you’ll need a web hosting service: a server to keep your website’s information where users can access and view it.
The web hosting business is a major online service offered to new and experienced users wanting to maintain a website.
There are a few things you need to understand with the various types of terminology floating around in the web hosting business. I’ll be explaining the different web hosting types and their pros and cons.
What is Managed WordPress Hosting?
Managed WordPress hosting is a specialty service where the hosting company administers all technical aspects of WordPress. This includes WordPress upgrades, server requirements, security, support, and backups.
Many hosting companies offer managed WordPress hosting services (some exclusively) due to the increase of WordPress-developed websites. The WordPress content management system platform powers over 30% of all websites online today. You or someone you know probably already uses WordPress.
Managed WordPress hosting does come at a premium, usually starting at $20 per month.
The Different Types of Web Hosting Plans
The world of web hosting can be confusing for individuals new to creating a personal or business website.
Choosing the right web-hosting plan will affect your website’s performance in terms of speed, security, and reliability. In the end, it affects customer retention and satisfaction depending on how users perceive your website.
In addition, one of the main variables in choosing the right web-hosting plan is price. The cost of hosting a website can run from a few dollars to hundreds of dollars per month.
Companies that have their core business online (e.g., search engines, social networks) will have their hosting costs in the thousands to millions of dollars per month. Many of these companies will build their own data center to host their websites.
Now, let’s go over the common types of web hosting plans and structures.
What is Shared Hosting?
Shared hosting allows multiple users to host multiple websites on the same server. It’s the most common and cheapest way to host a website. All websites on the server share the same resources such as RAM and CPU.
Think of shared hosting like cars and trucks on a highway. Where the vehicles are the websites and the highway is the server. Some vehicles are optimized for speed where others are poorly built. The trucks all have heavy loads.
Now all the vehicles share the same highway going from point A to various different locations. The more cars and trucks on the highway, the more clogged up the highway becomes. In addition, the slow vehicles cause other vehicles to go slow just like a website.
In an attempt to attract more customers, gain market share, and increase revenue, web hosting providers offer shared hosting plans as an introductory service for the growing demand of new websites.
Pros of Shared Hosting
- no technical knowledge required
- great for bloggers, entrepreneurs, small businesses
- low maintenance
Cons of Shared Hosting
- limited resources
- limited control of server
- sometimes slow
- server resources shared with many websites
A common issue or phrase when it comes to shared hosting is a bad or noisy neighbour. A bad neighbour is a website on a shared hosting plan that hogs the server resources due to the size and traffic of the website. A poorly designed website can also produce a bad neighbour, which would lead to additional resource requirements.
Now that you know the meaning of shared hosting, you should understand that shared hosting isn’t a bad thing. In the end, it saves consumers money while allowing them to have a website.
There are many companies that provide inadequate shared hosting performance, but some hosting providers have excelled at providing optimal performance. Shared hosting has excelled so far that even managed WordPress hosting is optimized on shared servers.
What is VPS (Virtual Private Server) Hosting?
A VPS is a dedicated, but still shared, server with a guaranteed amount of resources allotted to your hosting account. For example, a server with 32 GB of RAM is partitioned into 4 equally servers allowing your account to have 8 GB of dedicated (guaranteed) RAM.
Pros of VPS Hosting
- guaranteed resources
- greater stability and performance
- more control of server
- runs own copy of operating system
Cons of VPS Hosting
- not scalable, cannot add more resources
What is Cloud Hosting?
Let’s get one ambiguity out of the way: the word cloud can have different definitions to different people in terms of the internet.
For example, uploading your documents from your laptop to Dropbox is referred to as cloud storage: Dropbox saves your files on their servers (or on the cloud).
But cloud hosting is another matter. Cloud hosting is similar to VPS hosting except it takes advantage of multiple servers. This means the resources required to host your website are spread across several servers. It has a divide-and-conquer approach to provide faster web hosting performance.
Pros of Cloud Hosting
- stability spread across servers
- guaranteed resources
Cons of Cloud Hosting
- limited control of infrastructure
- can be inconsistent if no guaranteed resources
- usually more expensive than shared and VPS hosting
What is a Dedicated Server?
This is the granddaddy-hosting plan that many hosting companies offer. As the name suggests, a dedicated server provides you with resources that you don’t share with other users. This means your website(s) uses up all of the available RAM, CPU, and storage.
It’s like having your own personal server. Then why don’t businesses just buy their own server? Well actually, many businesses do buy their own server(s) and operate them in a local data center.
The main advantage of having a dedicated server through a hosting company is they will provide some type of assistance and support for the server, especially if the server malfunctions. But a notable cost-impact variable is bandwidth: imagine paying for all your website traffic (upload and download data) through your internet service provider.
Pros of Dedicated Server
- Full control of server software
- Dedicated resources
Cons of Dedicated Server
- made to order (can take time to setup or make hardware changes)
- expensive for entrepreneurs and small businesses
- server management is usually your responsibility
The price and performance of a hosting plan can vary depending on the hosting provider and the different types of server setups and included features.
In my opinion, if you’re a small business or starting out as a blogger, it’s best to go with a shared hosting plan. You can always change plans or hosting providers later.