If you’re at the stage of website development where you need to start thinking about how best to host your site, you may have a few questions. What exactly is website hosting? What is the difference between each type of hosting service? Why are the price points so drastically different? There are a few different options for hosting your site, and answering these questions for yourself will guide you to the right one.
Let’s start with the basics:
Before choosing which hosting service to use, it’s important to understand what exactly web hosting is. The first thing to know is that website hosting is different from purchasing a domain name. A domain is the part of a URL that uniquely signifies a specific website’s information. For example, the website URL for the New York Times is https://www.nytimes.com/ where the domain name is “nytimes.com.” This must be purchased separately unless a domain name registrar also bundles hosting services.
Website hosting, on the other hand, has to do with the actual location and storage of files that make up a specific website. When someone purchases website hosting, then they are purchasing physical server hardware (or renting a portion of hardware) that will store all of the data and information relating to that website.
So, what’s the difference between cloud servers, dedicated servers, and shared servers? Let’s first take a look at what a shared server is.
Shared servers are owned by companies that rent the use of a single server to multiple clients. When hosting is purchased in a shared-server format, then one server may host hundreds or thousands of other websites. Pooling resources in this way is what makes shared server hosting the least expensive option.
Consider the cost of ridesharing apps to better understand this concept. If a commuter orders an UberX by themselves, then they will spend more money than if they split the cost with a coworker or order an Uber Pool. The principle is that cost goes down whenever a limited resource (i.e. space) is shared.
Shared server hosting is best suited for a new website or a website that doesn’t generate a lot of web traffic. This is because the sites of other clients on the same server will compete for resources. For example, if a small business has a product that goes viral on Instagram, but they use a shared server hosting, then the sudden increase in web traffic may cause crashes for that site and/or the other sites that share the same server. However, the likelihood of a product going viral may not be an issue that concerns most small business owners.
Here are the key features of shared servers:
- Disk Space and Traffic: It’s important to have some disk space for code files, media, and databases. The smaller a website is, the less important the disk space is. Pay close attention to traffic speed and bandwidth when looking for a shared server.
Free SCP servers with extra hard drive security are highly recommended.
- Uptime: It refers to the time when a website works online. Uptime also refers to the ability of online users to access your website without any issues.
Shared servers are suitable for websites that don’t need to be a hundred percent online all the time.
- Support: Check different reviews about the support level that the shared server provider offers. Browse through forums where users discuss shared servers.
Another website hosting option is to use a cloud server. Cloud servers are more reliable than shared hosting and offer greater adaptability over time with increased website traffic.
IBM explains that “cloud servers are created using virtualization software to divide a physical (bare metal) server into multiple virtual servers.” This means, among other things, that server failures occur infrequently. All necessary information can quickly be moved from one cloud server to another in the event of a failure because they are connected to a large Redundant Array of Independent Disks (RAID).
The use of a RAID also gives cloud servers the advantage of adaptability in addition to failure safety. Their use of Storage Area Networks means that cloud servers are flexible enough to move information to a more capable server as website traffic and data increase. There is nearly no limit to how large your website can grow when using a cloud server.
Cloud servers are also an affordable option with an increase in price as necessary to keep up with the growth of a website. One of the only issues cloud servers have is that they aren’t as customizable and therefore offer a limited array of features. This is where dedicated servers come into play.
Here are the key features of cloud servers:
- Fully Scalable and Customized: A good cloud server is easy to upgrade, allowing you to use extra resources and features at affordable charges.
- Accessibility of the Server From Any Location: With a cloud server, you can access your website using mobile devices, laptops, and PC.
Cloud services providers usually offer mobile applications, so managing a cloud server is easy and convenient using any device.
- Easy to Upgrade or Downgrade: You can easily upgrade and downgrade a cloud-based environment. Thus, if ever you have a peak time in your business operations, you can easily upgrade or downgrade it.
- Top-Level Security: Cloud computing comes with a high level of security. Your information or data is kept secure even if you access it from other devices.
Dedicated servers include physical hardware that is only used by the customer themselves. Dedicated servers are completely customizable, including, but not limited to, hardware, software, RAM, and processors. Clients with dedicated servers have the highest level of security and never have to compete with other clients for resources since they do not share with any other customers. The hardware for these servers has improved significantly over the years so server failure with this option is almost a non-issue.
The downside of using a dedicated server comes with physical accessibility. If a client chooses to purchase their own hardware to place in a warehouse, then it can be difficult to deal with the hardware when problems arise. If something were to happen to the physical server, then the client would need to actually go to the location where the server is housed. A better option would be to customize existing hardware owned by that same company warehouse in order to circumvent personal hardware issues.
Cost is an important variable to consider while choosing which type of hosting makes the most sense for a particular customer. Let’s look at some of the prices that one might expect when purchasing a hosting plan.
Shared servers typically cost around $50 a year, but prices can quickly escalate as more web traffic is generated and a shared server will no longer work to support a website. For cloud servers, prices begin around $240 per year as a base rate. Oftentimes, upgrading a cloud server plan is necessary as traffic continues to increase, which can make prices as high as $950 a year or more.
All of the customization and exclusive use that comes with a dedicated server means that a large financial investment should be expected. Prices for this premium service cost around $1,440 per year depending on the specifications of the dedicated server and any upgrades that may need to take place to support website traffic. A great place to get web hosting is 101domain.com.
Here are the key features of dedicated servers:
- Operating System: Choose a dedicated server that’s compatible with your current system, needs, and preferences. Make sure that the dedicated server provider enables you to run the operating system you need.
- Server Configuration: Choose one that you can configure to meet your needs.
- Hardware Choices: Choose one that offers a lot of hardware options with great capacity and performance.
The best way to choose a website hosting service is to analyze the existing and projected web traffic for the website in question.
If your website is new or has minimal traffic, then a shared hosting server will be just fine. A cloud server would be perfect for a website that’s growing quickly or steadily in any way. Once a website has grown to a level of consistent high web traffic, that’s when a dedicated hosting server should be considered.
Choosing a hosting service is really a very simple process. Take this information into account and rest assured that you’re making the right choice for your site.