When most people start online, they don’t even bother to host their websites themselves. Using a free hosted option is nice, but it also puts your website at the mercy of another company. While unlikely, this is not a wise choice for those seeking a long term presence online.
Eventually, nearly everyone chooses to move their website to a self hosted option, giving them greater security and control. For those unsure which hosting to get, or whether they have the right hosting plan, the following is an in-depth explanation of web hosting.
Hosting Is Like A Home
Each of the three hosting types (shared, virtual private servers (VPS) and dedicated servers) is like a different type of living space. While one space may be nice for a while, as a lifestyle changes and a family grows, more space is eventually needed.
The same goes for hosting. New websites may be fine with a lower capacity plan for quite some time, but eventually, a mature and successful website will need something with more power and space.
To choose the best home, it is important to understand which suits your current needs.
A shared host is like a crowded apartment building. It is cheap, there are a lot of other people on each floor, and you are susceptible to the activities of the other tenants.
In internet speak, this means that while the price is right, the conditions are less than optimal for a website growing in popularity. Each shared hosting account is put on a server that may be hosting hundreds of other sites. For sites that get a couple hundred visitors per day, this is fine.
Sites that are getting larger spikes in traffic may be shut down, and eventually evicted from the building, or rather, pushed to a hosting plan with more power and capacity to handle traffic spikes.
Virtual Private Servers
A VPS is similar to a townhouse. In a townhouse, there are fewer neighbors, more space and more flexibility on how things look and work. A VPS is very similar.
On a VPS, it is much like having a dedicated server, but at a fraction of the cost. The downside, is that while you can upgrade the CPU, put different software options on it, and handle quite a bit of traffic, they are still easy to outgrow.
While the ability to expand and customize the server is greater than a dedicated server, the ceiling in its capabilities is much lower. Since the machine is still shared, but with a smaller number of people, a large traffic spike from one site can still knock everyone’s websites offline.
A dedicated server can be anything like owning your own home, to building a mansion. It is all to yourself, but it is expensive, and any desired customization can be very difficult to plan and implement.
The upside is fairly obvious: nobody else can knock your site offline. While some may struggle with the cost, for sites that get large traffic volumes and are struggling with slow load times and regular downtime, this is the only option.
Not all shared, VPS or dedicated servers are equal from provider to provider. Take the time to look at the capacity each offering has, the price, and what your expected traffic volumes are so you can make the best possible decision.