If you are thinking of creating your own website, be it a blog, magazine, or business site, one of the first things you’ll need to understand is web hosting. Not only that, but you’ll want to know how to choose the right hosting for your requirements, to avoid spending unnecessary money.
Before we start comparing the different types of web hosting available, you’ll need some preliminary information about what web hosting actually is, and why it’s necessary.
What is Web Hosting?
You may think of Web Hosting as the space or location on the Internet where your website data or content is stored.
To have a clear idea, consider this example. Normally you store your data files like pictures, videos, documents, etc. on the hard drive of your computer. These files can be viewed only by you or anyone who has access to your computer. If you want to share this data with someone else then the normal way is to send it via email or another data sharing service such as Google Docs.
But what if you want to share your data with a lot of people say your whole city, country, or even the world?
Well, this is where web hosting comes in. It is basically a system by which you can share your data with anyone across the globe.
Your website domain acts as an address (e.g. https://wphostguide.org), that tells your web browser, such as Chrome or Firefox where to find your stored data files on internet.
When people type your web address into their browser, they get directed to your data. Hence, they get access to the content uploaded by you (which makes up your website).
Why you need Web Hosting
Web Hosting lets people across the world access your data files. It’s basically a hard drive that can be accessed by anyone with internet access.
You can upload any sort of content like images, videos, documents, softwares, games etc. and anyone around the globe can view your content, download it, etc. depending on your settings.
In the days before blogging and websites, if you wanted people to read your work, you would actually have to send them a physical copy of the document. This is both time consuming and inefficient.
Nowadays, we can host data online, and simply direct our audience to the website where the data is stored. We can also create a new audience of people we didn’t even have access to before, who have similar interests to us, who will then share your website with their friends, and so on.
Take a look at our Hosting Checklist to see what you should be looking out for in a host.
How much does web hosting cost?
The price for a month of hosting varies dramatically between different providers, and can be anywhere from $2 to over $1000.
It is possible to get free hosting, but they often have so many limitations that it’s not practical to use them for an extended period of time.
Different types of hosting.
Your requirements for a hosting plan will depend entirely on what you plan to do with your site, so before going off and buying the first hosting plan you see, let’s clear up the types of hosting available, and the purpose of each one.
What will be the purpose of your website? Will it be an education website to help learners, or a homepage for your business, or an entertainment blog, etc? You’ll also need to think about your budget.
As with most things in life, hosting tends to get better the more you spend, so I recommend getting the most expensive hosting you can afford (remember it’s a long term thing, so don’t just budget for the next month or two)
There are four main types of Web Hosting:
- Virtual Private Server
Let’s compare the different types of web hosting on the basis of budget, control, and performance.
1. Shared Web Hosting
Monthly cost ranges from $2 - $25
Shared Hosting is by far the most commonly used hosting setup among small businesses and bloggers. Its popularity is mainly down to the fact that it is cheap and easy to set up and maintain.
In Shared Hosting, as the name implies, different people share their resources such as CPU time, data, storage, memory etc. on specific servers (the ‘hard drives’ where your data is stored).
It will provide you a limited control over the server, as it will be set up the same for all users, but will be maintained correctly by the hosting provider. Additionally, since you’re sharing the server load with several other websites, it is possible that performance can take a hit. This usually isn’t a massive problem unless you have a major website with over 500k visitors per month, in which case it’s worth spending the extra money to get a more powerful hosting plan.
- Easy to use
- No special skills required
- No expert server knowledge needed
- Many websites on one server
- Less control over the server
- Reduced speed at greater traffic
- Data can be more susceptible to cyber attacks
Recommended Shared hosting:
2. VPS Web Hosting
Monthly cost ranges from $10 - $70
Virtual Private Server hosting is a midway between Shared and Dedicated Hosting.
In VPS, the sharing of the server resources between different websites is less susceptible to taking a performance hit because there are fewer people who are sharing only some of the server’s resources like storage and CPU time.
Other than those, each person is also granted some separate resources which are not Shared by anyone.
VPS Hosting provides a higher degree of control than shared hosting, especially within the resources which are allotted to each person. But still you are sharing some environment and are responsible for smooth working of the server.
You can think of it like a condo which is divided into several units owned by different people, surrounded by common areas which are jointly owned by everyone.
Or think of it like a residential building in which each flat is owned by a specific party along with some areas jointly owned by everyone like entrance, roof etc.
- Only some resources are Shared
- Provides more control as compared to Shared plan
- Better performance of the website
- Increased speed
- Higher cost than shared hosting
- more difficult to use
- Technical knowledge required for setup
- Still less secure than dedicated hosting
Recommended VPS Hosting:
3. Dedicated Web Hosting
Monthly cost ranges from $60 - $800
Dedicated Hosting provides you complete control over the server. All resources like CPU time, memory, data etc. belong only to you. You don’t have to share your resources with anyone.
You can think of it like owning a detached house in which you do not share your garden, utilities, garage, etc. with your neighbours
Dedicated hosting is the most expensive web hosting plan because it provides you a highly controlled and secure environment, with high performance. Dedicated hosting tends to start at around $50/ month.
Due to not sharing server space, data is highly secure and less susceptible to cyber-attacks. That is why dedicated hosting is preferred by large organizations or sensitive institutions.
- Full control over the server
- Best performance
- High speed
- Secure data, insusceptible to cyber-attacks
- Most expensive
- Expert skills and technical knowledge required
- Error fixing is quite difficult and responsibility lies on you
Recommended dedicated hosting:
4. Cloud Web Hosting
Monthly cost ranges from $2 - $170
Cloud hosting is very different from the other web hosting packages.
With cloud hosting you work in a virtual environment using virtual hardware. You don’t need to have a real system for providing resources like CPU time or memory.
That may sound confusing but think of it like living in a rented house where you don’t own anything but pay for using the resources.
The best thing is that you only have to pay for those resources which you have used. Whereas in other plans you have to pay a specific amount for a certain amount of resources whether you use them or not.
Think of it like a phone service where you just have to pay for the minutes that you used actually as compared to a monthly call bundle which not only costs more but is also not utilized completely.
Another advantage is that you can increase the amount of resources like bandwidth, storage etc. as per your needs, as opposed to other plans where you are given specific amount of resources.
This package is more advanced than all other web hosting plans and is most likely to prevail over other hosting solutions in the future.
However, this Hosting is the most difficult to use and requires advanced technological knowledge. You are most likely to mess up unless you have a sound knowledge of all the processes involved.
Another major disadvantage is that this hosting is least secure. Due to the virtual environment, data is most susceptible to cyber intrusions or attacks.
- Pay for used resources only
- Extremely flexible
- Good performance
- Advanced technical knowledge required
- Very difficult to use and control
- Highly susceptible to cyber-attacks
Recommended Cloud Hosting:
Choosing the best hosting package for you
Using this as a basis of information, your own selection of which host to go with will come down to your technical knowledge, budget, and requirements. Be sure to check out our hosting reviews to see which is the best host for your needs.
If you are creating a huge database or a website where you are expecting a lot of traffic, then you should consider dedicated or cloud hosting.
If you will be storing sensitive information then go for dedicated hosting since it is the most secure solution. If you are a startup, small business, or simply want to start a blog and have little or no experience than go for VPS or shared hosting. Why waste money on something you cannot even utilize completely?
If you found this guide useful, let us know in the comments section below.