A web hosting service is like the virtual landlord for the internet. They provide the servers and resources (RAM, hard drive space, and bandwidth) to run websites and web content, much like a landlord providing office space for a business. The tenant pays rent and the landlord/web host keeps the building maintained. Like finding a space to operate a physical business, there are many different factors to consider when finding your online office space.
- What type of online office space do you need; a small workstation or an office with a business center?
- Are you planning for rapid growth?
- Would you rent a shared building or build your own space?
Shared hosting is like renting a workstation in a busy open-plan office. Everything is provided for you; a desk, electricity, and internet. But, you still have to share the bathrooms with everyone else and you can’t change the floorplan.
Shared hosting means your website is stored on the same server as many other sites. All the domains are sharing a common pool of server resources (RAM, CPU). Features tend to be basic, and usually have usage limits, but, in general, are cheaper than other types of hosting. Pretty much every major hosting service (Bluehost, GoDaddy, etc.) has Shared Hosting as a package. This can work if you’re looking to build a very basic site and don’t expect a lot of traffic.
Virtual Private Server (VPS) Hosting
A Virtual Private Server is a step up from Shared Hosting, it is more like renting an office in a business park. You have your own separate office, you still have neighbors and share a building, but you customize your office space to your liking.
On a technical level, what a Virtual Private Server (VPS) means is that it is a virtual server that exists on a real physical server. One real server can host multiple virtual servers but each VPS is completely segregated from the others. Users get great access to the server and even access the operating system without interfering with other VPS. Resources like CRU and RAM are still shared among virtual servers but cost less than a dedicated server. Also, a VPS is much easier to move between physical servers than a dedicated server.
For clarification, here at X(US) Hosting we use VPSs for our client’s websites. That means that we dedicate individual space to each website we host, and we manage the server for you. Check out our FAQ section for more info on our hosting services.
Other Types of Web Hosting
Cloud hosting is a newer type of hosting that is more scalable and may be more reliable than other types of hosting. Data is spread across a cluster of load-balanced servers. The advantage of this is that if a machine goes down, the other servers on the network can compensate for the loss. This means that power outages and natural disasters are less problematic. Cloud hosting only charges clients for resources it uses rather than a flat fee. The downside; the decentralization means you have less control over where your data is. This can create data security and privacy concerns.
A small three-person operation doesn’t need to purchase a full building office suite when a much more modest space would fill their needs just fine. And a large 100-person company wouldn’t want to share a one office building with seven other companies in the same office building with only one bathroom. This is what makes finding your online office space complex if you’re not a web developer. However, a little research and asking questions of some experts can go a long way.