What is Web Hosting? Explained by InMotion

Choosing the right type of hosting plan for your site can be a daunting task, especially if you are new to web hosting. There are many different hosts out there and many different types of hosting.

How do you know what is right for you? Below we give you descriptions of the different hosting types and some of the pros and cons for each. This should help you better understand which hosting style is right for your individual projects.

Shared

Shared hosting is like your immediate family, or even roommates living together. You all share the same physical building, each with your own room. All the resources are shared like electricity and water. Shared hosting involves a single server housing multiple accounts, all sharing the same processors and RAM. Normally, this does not present a problem as hosting companies try to divide average usage evenly across the servers. It can, however, present a potential issue if one or more of the accounts uses a large amount of resources, leaving the other accounts with a smaller share. Also, shared server accounts are restricted to the specific settings the server has given them. They are not able to adjust higher level settings or add additional back end software, modules, etc. Shared hosting also typically has a single administrative dashboard for all websites on a single account. While it is not shared with any other account holder, you are also not able to give each site its own individual access. Still, don’t let that dissuade you, as shared hosting is what the vast majority of sites on the web utilize. The benefits of shared hosting include the cost and normal features such as unlimited websites, data transfer, and disk space. Shared hosting is the cheapest hosting platform, allowing you to get up and running for just a few dollars a month. This is a great platform to start on for those with websites for businesses that do not run on the web (lawyers, dentists, plumbers, etc) as well as the beginning blogger.

VPS

Virtual Private Servers are much like an apartment building where there are several units housed within the same main building. Each tenant has their own living space along with access to their own resources. With a VPS platform, the accounts are still all housed on a single server, but each account has specific resources allotted to it. These often include disk space and memory. Each account also typically has access to its own server admin dashboard. This allows the VPS account holder to be able to configure and manage settings and software not possible on a shared environment. In this way, the VPS acts much like a Dedicated Server, thus the term ‘Virtual Server.’ Another advantage to a VPS is the ability to assign individual sub-account management panels so you can give additional privacy or even act as a reseller. At this level, root access is also a feature, unlocking even more configuration possibilities. Though some resources are allocated specifically to a VPS, such as disk space and RAM, there is still some sharing of resources such as the CPU. It is possible for one account to affect the others by sucking up too much CPU resources. This is still fairly rare, however, as there are much fewer accounts on a VPS server versus a shared server. The VPS platform is a very common entry level for those who will be running ecommerce websites. Pricing for VPS is usually more expensive than the shared or reseller, but less than the entry level dedicated servers. Check out the top CNET VPS providers here.

Dedicated

A dedicated server is much like having your own house. You are physically separate from everyone else so do not have to share disk space, RAM, or CPU usage. A dedicated server allows more space and memory than a VPS, so it is a great step up once you begin to outgrow your old server. Dedicated servers also have the same main features as a VPS in regards to a server management dashboard, individual sub-account management panels, and root access. With dedicated servers, you may also be able to get more customized software and hardware upgrades to allow further expansion. The benefits of a dedicated server are total resource control, larger amounts of space and RAM, root access, and a server admin panel. Possibly the only downside is that they tend to be the most expensive platforms and pricing can increase based on customization. This type of platform can be great for large ecommerce sites, very high traffic blogs, or sites with a large number of members.

As you can see, there is no ‘one size fits all’ platform when it comes to hosting your website. Different platforms meet different needs at different times in a website’s life. Many will never leave the shared hosting platform as they will never need to. Others will need the increased access and affordability of a VPS, while some will crave the privacy and control of a dedicated server. Regardless of which company you choose, evaluate your starting platform carefully and you will have a much easier time managing your website.

For a hosting provider option that offers all three of these platforms, you may want to check out InMotion Hosting, a web hosting provider that’s been around since 2001 and has a A+ rating with the Better Business Bureau and is CNET Certified.

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One Comment

  1. I love how these hosts keep lying to their customers and call it unlimited. There is NO such thing as unlimited and anyone that things they are getting unlimited anything did not read the terms. Make sure you read the terms and know what the real definition of unlimited means because trust me when I say it does not mean what they are passing it off to mean. Not that most people will ever run into the issue of being shut down but it does happen, so know what you are signing up for before you go with a host that quotes unlimited ANYTHING!

    Another key thing to know is what platform you are using and to make sure the hosted server meets your requirements. Like was said, the resources are shared and that means that the server configuration is also shared. One other important feature that you need to be aware of is many hosts don’t do squat to ensure their servers are properly hardened (Here’s looking at you BlueHost!) and in these cases you are left to your own devices when it comes to security. So dont risk hosting your site on some budget host that does not care enough to properly setup their servers!

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