Need a New Web Host? Understand the Offerings
When one decides to create a website, they will have to come up with a site name, URL, content and purpose. Another important factor of a website is the type of plan that it is hosted on. There are numerous hosting services that one can choose from, the most common being free hosting, shared hosting, dedicated hosting, virtual private hosting, and cloud hosting. We will take a look at these different kinds of hosting to discover which options will best satisfy your needs.
The word “free” likely caught your attention, and just as the name implies, free web hosting is absolutely free. Although you will not have to pay any money for free hosting, it comes at a price. First, most free hosting plans severely limit bandwidth and storage space, and might not allow certain file formats or files with large sizes to be uploaded to their server.
Secondly, sites hosted using free hosting plans are also subject to poor performance. One can expect more downtime, and loading times also suffer. Finally, sites on free hosting plans are often relegated to using subdomains (such as subdomain.hostdomain.com). All of this makes free hosting a poor choice for important business sites, but a good choice for smaller personal blogs or experimental websites.
Shared hosting is likely the most popular hosting option when it comes to creating one’s own website. It allows webmasters to have their own domain name (registered separately or often with the hosting provider), which is a major advantage over free hosting. Shared plans are inexpensive compared to other options, while still providing the functionality that most webmasters will require.
Under a shared hosting plan, sites share a server along with other users’ sites. This means that performance might not always be ideal, but it is still light-years ahead of free hosting plans. The upside to sharing a server is that server upkeep is not your responsibility, so the learning curve for setting up a site is quite manageable.
Dedicated hosting is a huge step up from shared hosting. Under such a plan, sites have an entire server to themselves, offering maximum performance. The downsides to this are price and the fact that you will be responsible for server upkeep. Dedicated hosting is often overkill for smaller sites, but it is perfect for larger businesses that require security and high levels of performance (and have the resources to maintain dedicated servers).
Virtual Private Server Hosting
Virtual private server hosting (or VPS hosting) takes some of the best aspects of shared hosting and combines them with those of dedicated hosting. VPS hosting utilizes virtual machines on servers, giving webmasters complete control over the virtual machine. This means that software can be installed on the server, much like a dedicated server, but costs are kept down since an entire physical machine is not dedicated to a single site.
The downside to VPS hosting is that physical machines running multiple virtual machines may still face performance issues. This is mitigated by the fact that web hosting providers typically limit the number of virtual machines that will run on any given physical machine, so performance tends to be steady.
VPS hosting is a good choice for mid-tier businesses that need more security than shared hosting provides, but do not require the power of or have the resources for dedicated hosting.
A relatively new hosting option is cloud hosting. Cloud hosting utilizes the power of multiple physical machines (“the cloud”) to host websites on virtual servers. This option is perfect for smaller businesses that plan to scale upwards, since cloud hosting is flexible and scalable, with the amount of space and power allocated to each site rising and falling as needed. Prices also rise and fall with the amount of computing power that is used, making it ideal for burgeoning online businesses.
As you can see, each type of web hosting has its own strengths and weaknesses. For this reason, there is no perfect plan that fits the needs of all webmasters. Keep in mind that different hosting providers also have their own reputations, so a shared hosting plan with one provider, for instance, might not be the same as one with a different provider. Therefore, one must do their due research in order to choose which plan best suits their needs.