Whether you run your own business and need to set up a website for purely professional reasons, or whether you are just interested in creating a site for listing your own portfolio for prospective employers, or even just for running your own blog, there’s a good chance that you might feel overwhelmed and confused by all the different web hosting options out there.
With plenty of companies offering “free hosting plans,” and others offering paid hosting services with all sorts of technical jargon listed in the descriptions, it can be hard to know where to start, or how to pick the right web hosting service for your particular needs.
Here’s a quick look at the most common types of web hosting available today, so that you can make a quick and informed decision that is tailored to the specifics of your situation.
Shared hosting is the plan that will be right for the vast majority of people who don’t have any experience in hosting websites, and who are just getting into web hosting and don’t have expectations of a massive spike in visits, or a high overall amount of traffic, in the short to mid-term.
With a shared hosting plan, your website is stored on the same server as a variety of other websites, and shares the same physical server resources as all those other sites – including RAM, CPU, et cetera.
Shared hosting plans are not the fastest out there, and will be subject to space limitations among other things. But they will often be very easy to setup and use, and will work very well for beginner websites.
VPS (Virtual Private Server) hosting
VPS hosting is one step above standard shared hosting, and serves as a good middle ground between shared hosting and dedicated server hosting.
With a VPS hosting plan, your website is still hosted on a shared server, but has its own unique space on that server, with a certain number of resources allocated specifically to that site.
VPS hosting typically allows for more storage space, customisation, and tinkering with your site, although a VPS hosted site is still not likely to cope well with high volumes of traffic.
Dedicated server hosting
Dedicated server hosting is the “gold standard” when it comes to hosting a site that can handle high levels of traffic, while also giving you as much control as possible over what’s happening “behind the scenes.”
With dedicated server hosting, you are renting an entire physical server just for your own site (or else are running your own server, solo.)
Among other things, this means you have full root and admin access, and are able to customise things as much as possible. Your site will also be able to handle much higher amounts of traffic.
Of course, dedicated server hosting also costs the most out of all the commonly available plans – and if you are planning to host your own server, or engage with a dedicated hosting plan in a very “hands-on” way, it’s worth keeping in mind that a high level of technical expertise required for the installation, management, and security of a server.
Managed VPS hosting
A relatively new option but offers all of the benefits of a VPS without the server management costs as these are taken care of by the host. The performance of your website hosted on a managed VPS would be identical to a self-managed VPS but without the extra time and technical knowledge requirements.
The cost for hosting a website on a managed VPS is likely to be a lot more than shared hosting but not as expensive as dedicated hosting.