Web Hosting Types – The 5 Types Of Website Hosting Services

Posted on 6 October, 2018 by Paul in

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We’ve previously written an article describing the basics of web hosting. Today we’re going to look in more detail at the different types of web hosting services available. It can be a tricky subject to get your head around, so we want you to think of the analogy of a website as a home. We’re going to use different types of home as a comparison for different types of website hosting.

Why Are Their So Many Options?

It can be hard enough to make a decision about which hosting company to choose without having to worry about the right type of hosting. It can sometimes feel like hosting companies are deliberately trying to confuse you. So, why are there so many types of web hosting options? The answer to this question can be answered by looking the analogy of a home.

There are different housing options, right? Houses, flats, apartments, retirement homes, and so on. Each of these types of home meets different needs. If you’re a single professional, you might prefer to live in a flat or serviced apartment. If you have a family, you’d be better off in a house with a garden, and so on. The same is true of web hosting types. Different websites require different types of online homes. Each of the web hosting types will suit different types of websites and businesses.

Now we’ve cleared that up, let’s look at 5 different types of web hosting services.

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1) Shared Web Hosting

With shared web hosting as your preferred server, this compares to a home in an apartment block. In an apartment block, you’d have lots of neighbours, and you’d probably be sharing hallways and outside spaces. That’s exactly what shared web hosting is like.

Your website has its own space, but it shares the same server with many other websites, just like flats in an apartment block. There are pros and cons with shared web hosting. Let’s take a look at them.

Benefits

Firstly, shared hosting is usually the least expensive option. The cost is shared by lots of other website, so hosting companies are able to offer lower prices. Often, shared hosting prices range between £5 and £15 per month. Secondly, for small to medium sized businesses and individuals, shared web hosting probably has all the services you need.

Drawbacks

There are drawbacks to shared hosting, though. Imagine in an apartment block if all your neighbours wanted to use the stairs at the same time. There would be congestion, and it would take longer than if you weren’t competing for the stairs. The same is true with shared web servers. There can be hundreds of websites on one server, so when other websites are experiencing a lot of visitors your site might be slower than usual. With shared servers, there are less options when it comes to customisation and security, too.

2) Virtual Private Servers (VPS)

Virtual private servers offer far greater capability and performance. In our home analogy, a VPS is more like a townhouse. You have neighbours, but you’re not competing for the same amount of space as you are with an apartment block. VPS is still a type of sharing, but with less competition for resources. As with any type of hosting, there are pros and cons that you need to consider carefully.

Benefits

The most obvious benefit of a VPS is that you have more room on the internet for your website. That gives you more flexibility. There are less demands on the server than with shared web hosting. Plus, you have more control and the services on offer can be adjusted to suit your needs.

Drawbacks

You have more space with a VPS, but you’re still sharing. The space you have isn’t unlimited – there are going to be restrictions. Speed issues are less of a problem with a VPS. They’re designed to handle more traffic than shared web servers, but your site’s performance isn’t guaranteed.

If all the sites on the VPS have a sudden spike in visitors, the speed and responsiveness of all the sites can suffer. Costs are higher than with shared servers, ranging between £25 and £50 per month. You would have to decide whether this additional cost is worth paying for your website.

3) Dedicated Servers

As the name suggests, a dedicated server is one that is dedicated to a sole website. In our home analogy, it’s the same as having a detached house on a corner plot with huge gardens on all four sides. Space is not limited or shared, and you’re not competing with others.

The server is yours, and yours alone. Big businesses often rely on dedicated servers for this reason. Of course, there are pros and cons when looking at the option of a dedicated server for your site.

Benefits

First of all, you don’t have to worry about your site being affected by the amount of traffic on other sites. No one else is competing for your bandwidth – it’s all yours. What’s more, with a dedicated server, you have way more control. You can use whatever services you need without having to consider the impact they might have on other businesses. Dedicated servers offer peace of mind and confidence in the performance of your website.

Drawbacks

The biggest drawback with a dedicated server is the cost. Like a detached house on a corner plot with big gardens, dedicated servers are the most expensive option. Dedicated servers can cost between £100 and £500 per month, which is up to 100 times more expensive than basic shared hosting!

When costs are an issue, you need to carefully weigh up whether you really need a dedicated server. Most websites who receive a moderate amount of traffic don’t use dedicated servers. It’s simply not cost-effective for them to do so.

It’s also worth noting that even dedicated servers have limits in terms of bandwidth and CPU resources. You’re not going to be affected by other websites, but you can’t use more resources than the server has.

4) Cloud Servers

As a relatively new option when it comes to web hosting, cloud servers offer an alternative to the more traditional options for businesses. In many ways, cloud servers are like dedicated servers, but rather than being a physical dedicated server, cloud servers are virtual, existing in a cloud environment managed by specialised cloud hosting providers.

There’s not really a good home analogy for this one, unless you think of it in a futuristic manner. A second home on the International Space Station, perhaps? Let’s check out the pros and cons of cloud servers anyway.

Benefits

The configuration options with cloud servers mean that they offer performance, security and control much like dedicated servers. However, the costs are lower than with a physical dedicated server, because you’re sharing cloud space. Packages start at around £12, and there are often options for flexible packages that you can increase or decrease according to your business needs. This means you don’t have to pay for infrastructure that you’re not using or don’t need.

Drawbacks

One of the biggest drawbacks when it comes to cloud servers is accessibility. As your site and data are stored in the cloud, you need internet access to get to them. If the internet goes down with your cloud provider, you have no access to your data. This is an important consideration that makes backups much more important.

Security can also be an issue, especially if your business deals with sensitive customer information. It’s not a deal breaker, since most cloud servers have pretty good security, but there are always risks with anything stored in the cloud.

5) Managed Hosting

Managed hosting is a type of hosting that is particularly suited to businesses using content management systems (CMS) such as WordPress. This type of hosting is, as its name suggests, a package whereby the hosting provider manages updates, backups and maintenance of your website. In our home analogy, this type of hosting is like living in a serviced apartment. It’s more expensive, but you get a cleaner and a doorman, and know that everything is under control. There are pros and cons to this kind of hosting service.

Benefits

Having the hosting company take care of updates, backups and maintenance means that you can spend more time on getting the content of your site right. You don’t have to worry about remembering to do site backups, checking for updates and all those time-consuming things.

Security is better with managed hosting, too. Often managed hosting packages will include basic SSL and protection against malware and other attacks against your site.

Drawbacks

Managed hosting doesn’t come cheap. Essentially, you’re paying a premium to the hosting provider to do routine updates, backups and maintenance. Some managed hosting packages limit the amount of control you have over the backend of your website, too. For some people, this is a benefit, since it means you’re less likely to mess things up.

For others it’s a drawback that leaves you dependent on your hosting provider’s support services. You need to consider whether this is a benefit or a drawback for you and your site when considering managed hosting packages.

So, What Hosting Solution Suits Your Needs

Breaking down the confusing array of web hosting options, and comparing hosting to housing, should help you to decide which option is best for your website. Look at the pros and cons of each option.

Which type of hosting does your website really need, and how much can you afford to pay? These two aspects will be the guiding principles for your decision-making process.

The right web hosting option for you will depend on what you need from your hosting provider. It can be helpful to draw up a list of the aspects that you absolutely 100% cannot do without, which features you’d like but aren’t necessary, and which features you simply don’t need. This helps to get a clear idea of your business needs, and prevents you spending unnecessary money on features you don’t need.

The variety of options for web hosting can be mind boggling, but once you have a clearer understanding of what they are and what your website needs, it becomes easier to make the decision. For small businesses or individuals, shared or managed hosting are often the cheapest and easiest options. Bigger businesses will need to consider their business needs both now and in the future, and take budgeting into consideration.

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