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Your custom domain is ready to go, and your site is almost ready for launch. Your final task is selecting the hosting package for your new website.
Every website needs a hosting server. When purchasing web hosting, you have several options for service providers and subscription packages.
If you don’t know the difference between shared and dedicated hosting solutions, how do you know which option is best for your business?
In this post, we’ll explore most of the different hosting solutions on the market today and make recommendations on the right choice for your online business.
If you’re starting a blog or launching a webstore, shared hosting solutions are an ideal starting point.
Shared hosting gives you shared access to a server, with the hosting company allocating server resources to multiple websites.
There will be many other sites on the same server as you, however each one is sort of in it’s own container.
The resources such as memory and processors of the server are shared across everyone and therefore there is a limitation on the resources each tenant gets.
Shared hosting packages are pretty much standard across the board from host to host, and you can expect restrictions on your bandwidth and storage allocations.
Some hosts provide a tiered shared service offering, giving you more resources at a higher subscription cost.
However, the reason why shared hosting is a popular option is due to its affordable price tag.
Shared solutions are the cheapest paid option.
It offers server access for a fraction of a VPS or dedicated host’s cost, making it ideal as the starting point for your online journey.
Shared hosting gets you a cPanel with most Linux hosts, allowing for the easy management of your website.
The host also takes care of the maintenance costs on the server and includes them in your subscription.
Shared hosting is affordable, but it’s only suitable for sites that are not resource heavy and you may also notice higher loading times.
However, it’s affordable, and when you’re starting that’s one of the main things that counts.
Plus, the resources available through shared hosting will probably be plenty as a starting point and many website owners never even require more than shared hosting.
If you do get to that point though, most hosts with a shared offering will have a VPS or dedicated solution, and they’ll help migrate you when you’re ready.
VPS (Virtual Private Server) hosting is one of the more popular choices as a hosting solution and is a middle-ground between a shared and dedicated hosting service.
A VPS hosting solution provides each tenant on the server a dedicated set of resources from 1 single server, so in essence it’s ‘virtual’ but at the same time ‘private’.
With a set of resources allocated to you, you can expect consistency and stability with the server in terms of how fast it runs, something that you don’t get with a free or shared package.
A VPS hosting solution provides you with everything you need to run a small to medium eCommerce business, blog, or webstore.
With a VPS, you get better speed and storage than a shared solution. However, it doesn’t have the same resources as a dedicated or managed solution.
If you’re starting an eCommerce business, a VPS package is a great choice, and most hosts allow you to scale into a dedicated solution when you outgrow the VPS.
Most hosts provide a few different VPS plans, allowing you to choose the right package to suit your website requirements.
A cloud hosting solution describes a network using software to divide the server infrastructure into multiple virtual servers, known as VMs, or virtual machines.
Small businesses find a cloud solution provides the ideal platform for everyday operational requirements.
Cloud servers are suitable for app development, web hosting, and even remote-work access for desktops.
Cloud solutions come in various types, allowing you to customize the offering to your needs.
A public cloud is easy to create, scale, and it’s easy to delete once you no longer need it.
A private cloud offers “private virtualization,” with similar redundancies to a public cloud, but with additional encryption and security.
A hybrid cloud offers you the best of both worlds, and it’s suitable for handling sensitive client data and workloads.
A managed solution requires cloud technicians to configure it to your preferences, and they also include dedicated security features like firewalls.
A cloud solution gives your host flexibility, allowing them to re-size the server on demands, efficiently allocating resources in real-time.
A cloud solution also offers upgraded storage solutions, with most hosts running SSD drives over the traditional hard drive with plates setup.
Cloud solutions usually offer lower latency times, relying on an infrastructure network spanning multiple countries.
A cloud solution offers you competitive rates to standard VPS solutions, with plenty of room to scale your business.
If you have a website receiving heavy volumes of traffic or one that completes resource heavy tasks, you need a dedicated server hosting solution.
Shared, VPS, and cloud hosting options come with limitations on bandwidth, disk space, CPUs and memory. These limitations make it challenging to scale your business.
However, with a dedicated solution, you get an entire server and all its resources dedicated to your website.
The hosting company doesn’t house any other sites on your server, giving you all the resources you need to run your site optimally.
Having a dedicated server means you can also configure it exactly as you want – an important distinction for those who are really looking to optimize their set up.
Hosting companies offer dedicated solutions in two formats – managed and unmanaged.
With an unmanaged solution, you get total control over all server resources, but your company is responsible for maintaining, updating, and upgrading the server.
As a result, you need to have an in-house team to manage these challenges or you need to outsource this task to an IT firm. (We’ll get into managed solutions in a minute).
As expected, a dedicated server is the most expensive hosting option listed here, which is no surprise as you get a tremendous resource entirely to yourself.
Therefore, a dedicated solution is best suited for larger sites or companies that host multiple sites and want to host them on one server for easy maintenance and management.
The cost of a dedicated server will mainly depend on its specs – the CPU or Processor, RAM and hard drive size as well as the bandwidth required to and from the server.
You’ll also need to account for the software required to run the server and the licensing fees.
If you’re using Linux, you have access to some great open source (free) software to manage the server that won’t compromise the stability, however certain software, especially on Windows OS, will need to be purchased.
A managed hosting solution is when the provider manages all technical aspects of maintaining your web hosting server.
Managed hosting is not an actual hosting solution but rather a way to manage your VPS, dedicated or WordPress specific hosting solution.
The best part of a managed hosting solution is that you don’t have to deal with any of the technical issues related to the server.
The team handles all aspects of monitoring, managing, and maintaining your server and you therefore don’t need any technical experience in monitoring, maintaining, or fixing servers if there’s a problem.
The hosting provider includes the management costs in their monthly hosting fees.
Therefore, you can expect managed solutions to be the most expensive option on this list.
If you don’t have an IT team in your company, a managed solution takes the hassle out of running the server yourself.
You also get access to a web-based admin system, allowing for custom server configurations.
With a dedicated managed solution, you can house all your websites on one server and cut down on your hosting costs.
It’s also important to note that a managed dedicated solution gives you exclusive use of the server, but it remains the hosting company’s property.
The WordPress CMS (Content Management System) powers millions of websites on the internet.
WP is a popular platform, offering many customizations, with the flexibility to function as a simple blog or a fully functional eCommerce site.
WordPress is a free, open-source CMS that anyone can use. With hundreds of plugins, and thousands of templates, WordPress is the ideal CMS to create and customize a website for even those without programming knowledge.
Mind you, advanced customizations will require the support of a developer.
Some companies specifically offer a WordPress hosting package.
These solutions are usually where the provider has optimized the server to run WordPress and in a shared environment, optimized it to run many different clients’ WordPress instances at the same time.
The hosting provider usually has expertise specifically around WordPress so security patches, maintenance, version updates and more can all move forward without a hitch.
This hosting solution is the ideal choice for web developers or web design agencies looking to make money reselling hosting services to their clients.
Simply put, you sign up with reputable hosting provider as a reseller and can then extend hosting services to anyone you chose, charging a fair rate.
Reseller hosting is an excellent way to add another income stream to your business model. You can white-label your reseller hosting or add any branding you want.
Some design firms choose to offer their reseller hosting as an extra service included in their website design packages.
Reseller hosting is in essence purchasing hosting in wholesale and then retailing it single users, making a tidy profit along the way.
As a reseller, you’ll have functionality to allocate bandwidth and space on a per client basis as well as the ability to set up email accounts, manage traffic, and more.
You can therefore customize each package based on your clients’ needs.
Why would any company want to give away its product for free?
One reason may be to try to run the hosting model a little differently, and plaster ads everywhere in the hopes or bringing in revenue rather than charging a monthly fee.
Alternatively, a free hosting offer form a reputable provider can act as a marketing tool, letting new users try out the service for free to see if they like the hosting solution’s dashboard and other functions.
However, free hosting is a terrible choice for any website, even a blog.
Free services throttle bandwidth and limit your storage on the site. As a result, your site loads slow, creating a poor experience for your visitors.
Sure, the solution might be a free alternative for bootstrapping your business in the early days.
However, you’ll have to migrate to a better solution as soon as you can afford it.
Furthermore, free hosting is an unreliable solution.
In many cases, the company offering the free solution doesn’t dedicate many resources to monitoring and maintaining the server.
As a result, you’ll have to deal with more downtime than the other hosting solutions.
Overall, free hosting is a sub-optimal solution, and it’s not doing your business any favors.