With all the different hosting solutions
available, some website owners may feel a bit lost – especially since
there are also differences within the main hosting options themselves.
The main four choices, shared hosting, VPS (Virtual Private
Server) hosting, dedicated server hosting and cloud hosting, are
designed to meet the different needs of potential clients. They all
differ in regards to resources available, customizability and the level
of control that a website owner has over it.
Shared hosting – where most website owners start
Shared hosting is the most basic service on which you can keep your
site. What you get is a place on one physical server, shared by many
users. Because both the software applications and physical resources are
shared, this makes it the cheapest option – often starting as low as few dollars
a month. Despite the low price, it’s generally secure and gives access
to the most standard software (usually a CPanel with most of its
hosting requires a bare minimum of control and maintenance, allowing you
to focus on your websites only (what for some can be a big drawback,
especially when it comes to resources and customizability of software
installed). Although most of the shared hosting options come with
“unlimited” bandwidth, if your site gets flooded with traffic and you
consume too much CPU or RAM, it may get taken down.
You can also be severely affected if a similar situation happens to one
of the people that you share the server with. Because it often comes
with great support (some companies even offer specific WordPress shared
hosting where you get additional WP support), anyone starting out, an
individual treating his website as a hobby or anyone on a budget will
appreciate this option – roughly 90% of websites are hosted on shared
VPS Hosting – first step towards independence
Virtual Private Server is a more powerful option than shared hosting.
Although you still share the physical machine with other users, you have
a guaranteed allocation of RAM, CPU, disk space and bandwidth. Unlike
on shared hosting, you don’t share the software as you have your own
virtual machine set up with root access to it. This allows you to decide
what software you want to install but at the same time can drive the
The price of
your VPS depends not only on the configuration that you choose but often
also on licenses of software that you choose (for example you often
need to pay extra for CPanel). That can double or triple the cost of
your VPS unless you install a free CPanel substitute (a typical low-end
VPS configuration starts at $10 - $15).
you get server root access, most of the Virtual Private Servers are
unmanaged, meaning you will have to install everything on your own as
you receive it naked with just a Linux system (most of the time Centos
or Ubuntu). For inexperienced users, this can even further drive the
costs up, but a well-configured VPS can give you a lot of power.
all makes VPS hosting perfect for more advanced users and those who
demand a bit more control, such as medium businesses, a bit more
sophisticated e-commerce sites or business owners, who own many websites
with small to medium amount of traffic. You clearly know all the
resources allocated to your websites, and you can choose the software
environment that you want to operate in. The beauty of VPS hosting is
also the fact that you don’t have to limit yourself to hosting a website
as there is a lot of software that can help you with your online
business which you can run on it too.
Dedicated server hosting – full control
a dedicated server, you rent (or own) the whole physical machine. You
don’t share CPU or RAM with anyone and, unless you create accounts for
other people and rent the space yourself, you are alone on it. You are
free to configure the entire machine the way you want, but you have to
maintain and secure it yourself. This, in turn, will require either a
lot of knowledge or even a separate employee to handle your server (or
even an entire team if you host a lot of websites and need extra
that this option is suitable for bigger businesses, those who store a
lot of data and have a lot of traffic to their sites and the content is
resources-demanding. The costs associated with software licenses, staff
and renting/owning a dedicated server are high, but the benefit of full
control and independence from others can be worth every cent. Especially
considering that, for big websites, even a little drop down in
accessibility or website speed can equal losses in thousands of dollars.
Cloud hosting – when it’s hard to predict anything
hosting is a little bit different from all the other options listed as
you only pay for the resources that you use. Be aware that there are
offers of “cloud hosting” which are just slightly enhanced versions of
shared hosting with limited resources on a shared machine. On a real
cloud, you get billed for what you use (usually per hour).
means that cloud is perfect for handling traffic spikes. If your sites
get activity peaks which are hard to handle for a typical server but
during quiet times, renting a typical server would be unviable, then the
cloud is the best option for you. Because of its flexibility, it’s very
cost effective as long as you configure it properly – if you fail to do
so, it will consume a lot more resources than it should, and you will
have to pay a lot more than it’s worth it. This makes the cloud perfect
for those who have the knowledge to configure it, and their sites
experience times of very high and low traffic.
beginners, shared hosting is more than enough, but as your online
venture grows, going up the hosting chain can give you massive benefits.
Although it requires some learning, a well-optimized VPS can give you a
lot of control and is a great first step towards increased reliability,
and with SSD disks, it can be extremely fast even at a low CPU/RAM
As your business grows, it’s good to get independent from other users
and slowly move to a dedicated server where you have the ultimate
control over everything. Don’t forget about the cloud, though –
especially if you predict spikes in popularity of your website, to
protect your sites from going down due to overload.