Most of us have heard of the words “web hosting” or “website hosting” but many of us are not familiar with different types of web hosting services that are available.
But then how do you determine the difference and how do you know which one of the web hosting options is best for you?
Lets first go into the basic understanding of what “hosting” means. Lets first understand your own computer.
There are three key components within your computer that makes the computer operation effective:
- Software, which is the graphical user interface including the programs that run in your computer.
- Hard disk drive or solid-state drive, its where your data and files are stored.
- RAM, also known as Random Access Memory, is automatically used when a software or program is launched to execute tasks. Part of the RAM is also consumed by Windows and Mac software, which we refer to as “operating system”.
These three key components also apply to web hosting primarily to host your website and web files. The only difference between your personal computer and a web host is that your personal computer is a stand-alone personal file host, while web host is part of a network of specially configured computers, which we refer to as servers. These servers are not only designed to host your website but also to interconnect and communicate with other servers across the world through robust networking resources. This is what makes internet the “world wide web”, and the largest database of information on earth.
Now lets become familiar with the most common types of web hosting services:
Shared Web Hosting
This is the most most inexpensive type of web hosting. Shared hosting generally means that one server may be hosting hundreds of websites. The traffic for all websites passes through one pipeline. These websites also share the same server resources, which include software to operate the server, RAM and disk storage space, but the files of each website reside in its own private folder on a hard disk drive storage space. To understand this from a different perspective, Its more like several people residing in one big room, sharing the same common resources but have their own private designated living area within that room. Since they are all in one big room, some may consume more resources than others.
VPS or Virtual Private Server Hosting
This is a step up from shared web hosting. Some technical knowledge is required because VPS hosting offers server configuration flexibility, which includes installing your own specialized software to perform specific networking, security tasks and more. However, some VPS hosting providers also offer fully managed VPS so that you don’t have to worry about maintaining and managing it. It’s called VPS or Virtual Private Server because web hosting service administrator virtually divides a hard drive or solid-state drive into several sections using special configuration techniques. These sections are then individually made available so you can host your own website(s) privately with its own resources including software, RAM and file storage space. To understand this from a different perspective, it’s like living in a condo unit that is part of one building. Each unit is sectioned out and it comes with its own private resources.
Dedicated Server Hosting
This simply means that your website is hosted on a dedicated server. This type of hosting is expensive. It’s for someone who understands network and server configuration. Dedicated server hosting basically means that server hosts only your website and files, and anything you do on that server is your responsibility including network configuration, security and more. You are the server administrator. To understand this from a different perspective, it’s like living a single family home and you are in charge of your own security, privacy and your own dedicated resources.
Cloud Web Hosting
This is a whole different hosting concept than what we have learned so far. Cloud hosting offers scalable interface. This means that you can select the software option, increase or decrease the amount of storage space and RAM as needed for your website. Based on the selection, everything gets automatically configured and you are billed only based on the usage of resources. No complex technical knowledge is required. Cloud File Server provides a centralized file repository for all collaborative efforts. Cloud based hosting offers multiple connecting channels to the website, which is referred to as “load balance computing”. The connection is faster and there is literally no down time.
Some web hosting service providers also offer VPS hosting with integrated cloud web hosting features. These packages are usually referred to as “Cloud VPS Hosting”.
If you are looking for a web hosting service provider then I recommend cloud web hosting. However, if the website potentially conducts robust operations or large scale ecommerce then it may require VPS Hosting or Cloud VPS Hosting, or Dedicated Server hosting options.