What Is Website Hosting? 5 Web Hosting Options Explained

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Web hosting is like the home of your website.  It is the place where all your website files, code, videos, photos, etc are stored so that your clients and website visitors can easily access them when they want to visit your website. 

When you buy website hosting it is like you are renting your own little spot on the internet in the same way as you would rent a shop if you wanted a brick-and-mortar store.

It’s important to note that if you would like to buy web hosting for your website, the web host will need you to either have your own domain, or you will need to buy one (don’t worry, many web hosting companies will give you a free domain if you sign up for one of their web hosting packages).

Related: How To Choose A Domain Name

Also, keep in mind that your domain name can be used with any type of hosting you would like. So, if you ever need to upgrade or downgrade your web hosting,  your domain name won’t be affected in any way.

Types of Website Hosting

There are 5 types of web hosting services available:

  • Shared Hosting
  • Dedicated Hosting
  • VPS Hosting
  • Managed Hosting
  • Cloud Hosting

Shared Hosting

Shared web hosting is the most popular choice for small businesses and personal websites because it is the most affordable website hosting option out there. 

In shared hosting, a few websites are all hosted on the same server and they all share the resources on that server. 

Shared hosting options are great because you can buy different hosting packages depending on how many domains you want to host, how big your website is or how much traffic you get.  And if you find that you need to upgrade to get more resources for your website it is easy to do so. 

One of the major benefits of shared hosting is that there are really affordable options available to you if you are on a tight budget – prices range from about $2 – $12 a month.

Shared website hosting is the most economical way to build your website so it is a very popular web hosting option for small businesses or home-based businesses that are just starting out.

Shared Hosting Pros & Cons

ProsCons
Easy to buy.Your website is stored on a server with many other websites.
Economical.All the server resources are shared between the other websites hosted on that server.
Easy to upgrade or downgrade.Less secure than other hosting options.
Your website is separate from other websites on the shared server.Other users on the server could affect the performance of your website.
Available from almost every hosting company.
Ongoing support.
Beginner-friendly.
Easy to manage and maintain.

Related: What To Look For In A Web Host – 15 Essentials You Need

Dedicated Hosting

If you buy dedicated web hosting then your website will be hosted on its own server. 

This is great if you have a very big website with a lot of traffic and visitors. Of course, because your website will be hosted on its own server, the price for this type of hosting is quite a lot compared to shared hosting. 

Dedicated website hosting is a good choice for big businesses that have tech-savvy people on board to help them manage their hosting and their server. 

Dedicated hosting can, however, also be bought as a managed hosting option, meaning that the web hosting company will provide all the tools and tech support you need to keep your website running smoothly if you don’t have your own tech people within your business (more details below).

Dedicated Hosting Pros & Cons

ProsCons
Your website will have its very own server.Technical know-how or a tech-savvy team is required to manage your hosting.
Cheaper than managed hosting.Can become expensive if you need to hire IT staff to maintain or manage your server.
You have full control of your server including things like backups and security.Minimal support.
A good option for tech-savvy business owners.You are responsible for your server maintenance and backups.
Flexibility with regards to the software and plugins you can install on your server.Can be less secure than managed hosting.

VPS hosting

A VPS or Virtual Private Server is a web hosting option for people who want guaranteed server resources that no one else has access to.  

A VPS—or virtual private server—is a virtual machine that provides virtualized server resources on a physical server that is shared with other users. With VPS hosting, you get dedicated server space with a reserved amount of resources, offering greater control and customization than shared hosting.

Google Cloud

VPS hosting is the ideal upgrade option for people whose websites and traffic have outgrown shared hosting options.  It is also more stable, reliable, and secure than shared hosting and is geared toward business owners who have bigger websites where they need more control over all their web hosting options.

VPS Hosting Pros & Cons

ProsCons
More stable, secure, and reliable than shared hosting. More expensive than shared hosting.
Cheaper than a dedicated server.There are limits to the hosting resources but it is easy to upgrade if you need to.
Other users will not affect the performance of your websites.You need more technical knowledge when compared to shared hosting.
Your website does not share resources with other users.
Easy to upgrade or downgrade as your needs change.
More secure than shared hosting.

Managed Hosting

Managed hosting is an all-in-one web hosting option where your web hosting company will handle the admin, setup, management, and maintenance of your server, whether you have a dedicated or VPS server.  

This means that the web host will take care of the setup and management of all the hardware and software that your server needs. They also offer ongoing, around-the-clock support if any problems arise.

Managed website hosting is a great option for your business if you need dedicated servers but you don’t have the technical know-how to manage and maintain a server yourself.  This is especially true if you have a very big website with lots of traffic.

ProsCons
Plug and play solution for businesses that don’t have the time, IT staff, or resources to manage and maintain their web server.More expensive than unmanaged hosting options.
Saves time because you don’t have to worry about the management of your server.Your website host has control of your server so, if you choose the wrong hosting company, it could negatively affect the performance of your website.
The hosting company provides the expertise and staff needed to manage your servers.
Easy to upgrade or downgrade as your needs change.
Good security.
Automated maintenance such as backups.

Cloud Hosting

Cloud hosting is where websites aren’t stored on a single server, but rather they are stored on a network of connected physical and virtual servers across the internet. This means that your website would have access to the resources of multiple servers rather than just one, giving you better and faster performance.

Cloud servers are an excellent choice for big websites with a lot of traffic such as social networks, eCommerce stores, search engines, or news websites.

Cloud Hosting Pros & Cons

ProsCons
Reliable and secure – if one server goes down the other servers will keep the website running. The servers are managed by the cloud hosting providers so there is limited control.
If there are spikes in traffic, the increased workload will be spread across the network of cloud servers.Cloud servers rely on the internet being up to work properly – if the internet goes down on your cloud provider’s side, you won’t be able to access your website.
Easy to buy and implement.
Flexible – It is easy to scale your hosting as your business grows.

An Example!

Think of web hosting like a restaurant. When you visit a restaurant and you get a table, this is just like shared hosting. You are sharing the restaurant space, amenities, and resources with all the other guests at the restaurant at that time.

VPS hosting is like renting out a private room in the restaurant. Here you will have the entire space to yourself and you can organize the room as you would like to without worrying about other guests in the restaurant. You will be able to arrange everything to your liking but you will still share the kitchen etc. with other guests in the restaurant.

Dedicated hosting on the other hand is like renting out the entire restaurant for an event or function. It will be more expensive but you will have complete control over everything, and all the amenities in the restaurant will be completely for your use. You will be able to choose who to hire for catering, entertainment, etc.

However, if you feel like you wouldn’t have the necessary skills to manage your entire event, you could hire the management and the staff of the restaurant to run the event for you at an extra cost. This is like managed hosting.

Conclusion

As you can see, there are quite a few different hosting options you can choose when you want to build a website. Cloud hosting and managed hosting can be combined with other types of hosting to offer better and more flexible hosting packages. For example, you could buy a shared hosting package that is hosted on cloud servers.

If you are just starting out and want to build your website from scratch, shared hosting is an excellent starting point!


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