I have often been consulted about the differences between the many types of web hosting services available that I thought it would greatly benefit my readers (especially the beginners) if I were to post an article on this. Today, I will do exactly that. To help you understand the topic better, I have done up an infographic to illustrate the 4 types of commonly available web hosting services.
Different web hosting types
If you are planning to build a presence online, then you would need to create a website and find a web server to host it. Generally, these web hosting providers offer a range of hosting options. For the purpose of this article, I will concentrate on 4 most widely used web hosting types, namely Shared Web Hosting, Virtual Private Server, Dedicated Server and Cloud Web Hosting.
Each type has its pros and cons. Your decision would depend on the type of website you are creating, your business needs and your budget. Here is the web hosting types comparison infographic, using housing types as a metaphor.
Shared Web Hosting
This is the most popular and most cost effective hosting type. Shared web hosting means many websites or domains are being hosted in one server. As such, resources like disk space and bandwidth are shared between these websites, and are thus usually limited.
However, since the cost of hosting is shared between the many domains, the cost per domain is significantly reduced. Web hosts will also offer lots of additional features such as free domain names. Thus, it’s a great plan for newly set up websites, personal websites as well as small businesses.
Similar to apartments, there are many people living (domains residing) under the same roof (server). You share the same apartment facilities such as the swimming pool and activity hall (server disk space and bandwidth) with your neighbors.
- You only pay for what you require and when your website outgrew this plan, you can upgrade later.
- This plan is cheaper compared to other types of hosting as cost is shared among the domains.
- The web hosting providers will pre-install server software like webmail, website building tools, database software as well as updates on the operating system.
- Web hosts provides technical support.
- There’s the risk of getting bad neighbors, just like living in an apartment. A bad site can affect other sites on the same server.
- Because you are sharing the server, your usage of disk space and bandwidth is limited, despite what many hosting providers tell you that they are unlimited!
- For security reasons, domain owners on shared servers are not given administrator/root access.
Virtual Private Server
Virtual Private Server or VPS is recommended for web owners who are more IT inclined and whose websites had grown beyond the resources of a Shared Hosting environment. It is a cross between Shared Hosting and Dedicated Server.
VPS offers more flexibility and functionality than Shared Hosting and yet does not demand the same level of investment as a Dedicated Server does. Unlike Shared Hosting, VPS’ servers are divided and allocated to each account. Kind of like having multiple virtual servers on one physical server.
VPS is usually compared to living in a terraced house. Each house has its own building (isolated account) and it’s entirely up to you how you want to renovate (design your website and install your software) it as long as it’s within your compound (allocated resources).
- You are given administrative or root access to your allocated portion of the server, thus more control.
- More dedicated resources as there are usually less websites on a VPS server. And you don’t have to worry about sharing these resources with your neighbors as each account is isolated from others even though they are on the same server.
- While the virtualization gives each account more configuration freedom, hardware and network infrastructures are still maintained by the hosting provider.
- Less expensive than Dedicated Servers plans.
- You are responsible for server-side administration eg application updates and maintenance.
- More expensive than Shared Hosting since you get to enjoy more resources and freedom.
- Some things are still being shared like hardware resources eg CPU, RAM and Disk I/O.
For those who wants absolute control over their servers and have the expertise to maintain the servers, dedicated server hosting is the answer. As its name suggests, you have the whole server to yourself. It’s your call on how many websites to be hosted on the server. This type of hosting is good for websites which requires a lot of resources or a highly secure environment.
Dedicated Server is like a detached house. You decide how you want to build it and how big you want it to be.
- No sharing of resources and hence, your websites are comparatively more secure, reliable, faster and have more rooms to grow!
- Depending on your package, the server is generally maintained by the hosting provider. So, do read up the terms of service.
- Definitely more expensive than Shared Hosting and VPS. Not only do you need to fork out extra for an entire server but you may also incur extra expenses eg in engaging experts help, if you aren’t that technical savvy enough to manage the server yourself.
Cloud Web Hosting
Cloud web hosting is the latest type of hosting option. How it works is that it leverages on the resources of several clustered servers, instead of the traditional single server. It is powerful, reliable and highly scalable. Hosting is load-balanced and alternate servers will immediately kick in should a server went down.
To a certain extent, it lets you enjoy the privileges similar to a Dedicated Server plan and yet, do not cost as much.
Cloud web hosting is like having a mega mansion. You don’t have to worry about rooms for them to stay (server resources) when you have lots of guests (visitors and readers) over for the holidays (traffic spike).
- Uptime is the best since you do not depend on just one server but a lot of servers.
- Easily up and down-scaled since it is virtual servers that you are hosted upon.
- No worries about temporary and sudden traffic surges.
- No hardware and software installation needed as you can just plug into the cloud that provides the necessary resources.
- You only pay for what you use.
- A major concern is the lack of control as there are no centralized servers. This may lead to security and privacy issues.
- Relatively new and not all hosting providers offer this service.
There are, of course, other web hosting plans like free hosting, reseller hosting, and co-location. But the above 4 are the more commonly used hosting types and I do hope you find this article useful. What are your thoughts about these web hosting types? Do you like my web hosting types comparison infographic?
Free hosting, while doesn’t require any investments from you, is generally not advisable. More often than not, connection is slow and downtime is frequent. On top of that, you usually do not get your own domain name but rather a subdomain of the web host. There are quite a number of reliable web hosting providers which I highly recommend, namely Bluehost and HostGator.
It took me weeks of hard work to create this infographic and thus, would appreciate if you can share it with your friends and colleagues. It would be even better if you can blog about this on your blog.