Web hosting might seem complex at first, but it is really quite simple once it is broken down.
For example, there are really only a handful of commonly used hosting plans: shared web hosting,VPS hosting, collocation hosting, dedicated hosting, and self-hosting.
These options are arranged from the least expensive to the most expensive, and price is also a good indicator of performance, options, and flexibility. For example, a shared web hosting account is when several websites from several customers exist on a single server. Affordable, but not necessarily providing you with the highest of performance, and there are some things customers cannot do such as run resource-intensive applications/scripts, or reset the server at their whim.
- VPS hosting options limit the number of users on a server and offer them a pre-determined minimum amount of access to hardware. In most cases, VPS servers can be virtually rebooted, meaning that any and all websites owned by a single customer can be reset remotely if necessary. While VPS hosting tends to be more expensive than shared web hosting, it is usually less expensive than colocation hosting.
- Colocation hosting is when a client sends their own server to a facility that specializes in hosting, and the server is managed both remotely by the client and often personally by the staff at the facility.
- Dedicated hosting is similar to colocation hosting in that customers get complete access to a single computer server, but that computer server belongs to the hosting company and not the customer.
- Finally, self-hosting requires the customer buy their own server, pay for an ISP to allow connections to that server, and a host/DNS routing account to ensure that traffic from the Internet is connected directly to that server.
When to use that?
Some web hosting customers use different kinds of web hosting options for different types of projects. For example, parked pages with simple affiliate links do not require a lot of space or resources, so they are often placed on shared web hosting accounts or low-end VPS hosting accounts to increase profitability.
More complex sites that manage databases for thousands of daily visitors require dedicated, colocation, or self-hosting options unless extremely robust VPS options are available. Most companies with serious web hosting needs prefer to use multiple companies to ensure that a single hardware failure does not take out mission critical websites or infrastructures. The downside to that is that using multiple web hosts is usually more expensive than upgrading a plan or stepping up to a more powerful type of hosting solution with a single web host.
Web designers and developers often offer hosting options for their clients, which helps them build residual incomes after their initial project is complete. This also helps ensure ongoing revenue in the form of future work as many clients may be unaware that they can change service providers without losing their relationship with their design and/or development team. The downside to developers and designers that offer such services is that they generally become the immediate go-to contact whenever something goes wrong with a host. Fortunately, changing hosts is generally fairly easy so long as customers have read through the process of changing domain names from one host to another. Generally speaking, clients signed up for anything but shared web hosting can receive substantial assistance in transferring their existing website from one host to another, often at no additional charge.
Things to consider
When determining web hosting needs, most people compare computing resources, storage, and bandwidth allocations. Most shared hosting plans offer unlimited storage and bandwidth, but very limited and typically unspecified access to computing resources.
VPS hosting plans and higher all generally offer finite or minimum specifications for computing resources, but generally have finite storage and bandwidth limits. Storage and bandwidth limitations can usually be increased for an additional fee. Most people plan their computational resource needs for worst case/peak usage scenarios and then add a little bit of overhead for the proverbial rainy days.
La crème de la crème
Host Gator offers an amazing array of shared web hosting plans as well as some great low to mid-range VPS hosting options, and it is no surprise the developers and customers alike appreciate the combination of performance and price that Host Gator’s plans typically offer.
VPS.net has some truly amazing VPS plans that are incredibly reliable. In fact, some customers claim that their VPS.net VPS accounts are more reliable than many low-end dedicated hosting plans, and many companies absolutely require stability when it comes to their hosting.
Media Temple may be one of the most popular dedicated hosting options today, and its reputation for rock-solid reliability is second to none. That type of reliability does not come cheap, but nothing worthwhile ever does. Designers and developers love Media Temple as clients that choose MT for hosting almost never have to call and complain about server downtime, and the same is true for VPS.net options that are only slightly less powerful.