So many servers to choose from and so little time… If you’ve ever had this feeling, then check out this simple guide to what’s what in the website hosting world. As you go down the list, you’ll see that the hosting options provide more capability, but also become more expensive. When you find a level of hosting service that seems compatible with what you want or need, you can dig into the detail by investigating different offers. Remember that while price is a factor for hosting, it isn’t the only one. Technical specifications, bandwidth policies and provider track record are also items to consider.
Think of this as being a roommate. You’re allowed to personalize your bedroom, but you have to share the bathroom and you can’t leave your junk in the living room or cook smelly food in the kitchen. It’s the same when you’re sharing a server in the most basic mode. You can decorate your website, but you have to share the server processor and memory, and you can’t use certain scripting languages or applications. If the hosting provider allows, you may however be able to add functionality like basic e-commerce (online shopping carts and payment checkout). Use this solution for simple, non-business critical websites, personal pages, blogs or small forums.
Virtual Private Server (VPS)
Tired of your other roommates hogging the bathroom? Fed up with the dirty dishes in the kitchen sink? Maybe it’s time to move into your own apartment. Sure, you’ll still have neighbors left, right, up and down. But at least, now you get the kitchen and the bathroom all for you. This is the principle of the virtual private server – lots of self-contained virtual server spaces in one overall physical box. You typically get your own IP address and your own administrative access. Options for running different applications and scripts are more varied. Just make sure you know if you need a Windows or a Linux server to run your particular software programs. You should get more resources than with the shared hosting solution above – although of course you’ll be paying more rent as well.
Perhaps your ambitions extend beyond the shared elevator, lobby and parking spaces, and that one bedroom, kitchen and living room. The next step up is a house of your own with more rooms, garden, carport, you name it (but you pay for it too). Dedicated hosting is like not having to put up with neighbor’s hi-fi in the apartment above any more. You don’t have to worry about being squeezed for resources like processing power, RAM or network bandwidth – you own them all! Or at least, you are the only person renting them from the provider. And if you use a colocation hosting service, you truly do own the server. You might choose to do this if you have very specific hardware and software requirements that fall outside the range of the types of server the provider offers. But it may also simply be cheaper to pay for a colocation service for your server than trying to host it on your own premises.
A big house means big cleaning and upkeep effort! Do you want to stay home and do the housework, or would you rather free up that time and effort to go and make more money than it costs you to hire domestic staff? That’s one of the basic questions about whether or not to use managed services from your provider for your dedicated server. If you’re prepared to pay the extra charges, advantages can include server maintenance, update, monitoring and security, all handled for you by the provider.
Other Forms of Web Hosting
Concerned that your house, sorry, hosting server, is using energy inefficiently or otherwise harming the planet? Green hosting is now also an option with providers constructing their facilities to be eco-friendly, or to use green power supplies. Cloud service providers (some of whom provide pay as you go web hosting) are increasingly emphasizing their efforts in this domain. Other options for web hosting include clustered hosting where a number of physical servers share your web hosting requirement. If your needs are very big, clustered hosting also offers the advantage that your web site will always be available: one server having to reboot will not mean an interruption in your website services. That way you’ll be able to keep all the lights on and always have somebody home!