To the layperson who is trying to start a blog or website, all of the talk surrounding web hosting can be confusing and overwhelming. This is compounded further when you visit a web hosting company’s site and find that there are different types of hosting and different types of servers.
Which one should you choose?
That is what this post is all about: the different types of hosting servers and how it applies to your website needs.
There are four different types of host servers:
- Shared Hosting Servers
- Virtual Private Servers
- Cloud Hosting Servers
- Dedicated Servers
We will delve into the definition of each and how they apply to you.
What is a Hosting Server?
A server is just like your computer at home. It has a central processing unit (CPU), an operating system (most servers are Linux-based) and it has a memory to store website files.
A website is essentially a bunch of files that are stored on a server. The servers take those files and convert them into the visual elements we see on a website – graphics, buttons, formatted graphics, videos, etc.
Shared Hosting Server
When you buy shared hosting from a web hosting company they take your website files and store them on a computer where you get to share computer memory/space with a number of other websites.
This is why shared hosting is always the cheapest option. When you have just started a blog or website, and you don’t already have a huge source of traffic (below 1,000-2,000 visits per day), hosting your site files on a shared server is not a bad idea at all.
On the other hand, on the occasion that one website on the shared server suffers an attack by hackers or for some reason is taking up a bunch of space (bandwidth) on the server because of the size of their files, other sites on the same server will suffer as well. This could cause your website to go down. However, if you have a good shared hosting company, they will figure out the source of the problem and restore the servers so that all sites on that server are back up and working within minutes.
Example: You could think of shared hosting as riding the city bus during rush hour. You are going to get where you need to get, but the other people on the bus might cause you some discomfort.
Virtual Private Server (VPS)
In the web hosting world, VPS hosting is the next step to move to when your website or blog grows to a point where you are receiving more than 2,000 visits per day.
(NOTE: This number is just a guide. It’s always best to discuss with your hosting company, based on your website’s speed and performance analytics, when the best time to move from shared hosting to VPS is.)
With VPS hosting, you will still share the server with other website owners, but there are significantly fewer websites per server. You are assigned a partitioned portion of the server which means you will have more space allocated to you. Your website is less likely to have downtime due to what may be happening with someone else’s website.
With VPS, you can customize the server the way you want. The customization option is perfect if you are familiar with server management. If you’re not, then the hosting company can handle this on your behalf, for a fee, of course.
Example: If shared hosting is like riding a crowded bus, think of VPS hosting as getting an Uber. You certainly will feel more comfortable and will have the freedom to maneuver as you wish, but the car ultimately belongs to someone else.
Cloud Hosting Server
A cloud hosting server is similar to a VPS server. However, in this case, your server is not just on one machine but is spread over several different servers hosted over the internet.
In many ways, it is just like VPS hosting in that you have more control of your website and will be able to provide your website visitors with a better experience.
A dedicated server is just like the name suggests – your website is being hosted on its own server that you share with no one else. You have access to all the resources on the machine.
Hackers getting onto someone’s site or a surge of traffic to another site causing it to use up memory on a shared server are not your problem anymore.
Example: A dedicated server is similar is driving your own car. It certainly comes with more financial commitment and responsibility, but it is yours to do with as you wish.
With a dedicated server, you are running the show now. So while you will be purchasing this from a hosting company, it is important that you, or someone on your team, knows how to manage all the technicalities that come with a dedicated server so that your website stays up and running.
Start out with a shared hosting server when your traffic is low. Move up to a VPS, and then park your website with cloud hosting or a dedicated server.
Which type of web hosting server do you use and why?