If you want to get your website up and running on the world wide web, the first thing you are going to need is hosting. But, there are a lot of different choices out there for what type of hosting you want. I’m not necessarily talking about which web hosting company you choose, that’s a story for a different time. What I’m talking about is the difference between shared hosting, VPS and dedicated hosting for your website. It all depends on your needs because each of these has distinct advantages and disadvantages. In this post, we are going to go over the differences between these three different options and hopefully at the end, you’ll have a very good idea of what it is that you need to make your site work.
There’s a lot to get to, so let’s get cracking.
What is web hosting anyway?
Well, web hosting is basically a container that holds all of the information on your site. Everything from the images to the text, your database and all of the other critical tools that make it possible for people to access your website on their browser.
Basically, if you have a WordPress theme or website that you have built on a localhost, that’s all well and good. You can access it from your own computer, but it doesn’t exist anywhere where somebody else can view it. By selecting a web hosting service, anyone can see your website because the site files get stored in a way that browsers can access them. It’s pretty simple.
This allows people to access your domain and read your posts, make comments and contact you via a contact form, if you should happen to have one on your site. It makes your website accessible to the masses, and that’s kind of part of the point, isn’t it?
Do I Absolutely Need Web Hosting?
Well, to a certain extent, we’ve briefly touched on this. I mean, if you want people to see your work, yes, you do need web hosting. Unless you invite everybody over to your house to look at your localhost version of your website. How practical is that? Anyway, let’s get a little deeper into the nuts and bolts of why you need web hosting.
If you’re spending the time and effort to create a website, you’re obviously going to want to allow people to see what you’re doing, right?
So, no matter how many blog posts you create, how many amazing articles you post, how many cool photographs you have in your portfolio, if nobody can see it, it’s not doing you any good. There’s really no point in that, as far as I can see. So, web hosting is what allows people to visit your site and see what you’ve made.
Having a hosting account gives your website a place to live. Users from anywhere can come to your site, read your posts, look at your images and more, all while you do basically nothing. Web hosting is what makes your site accessable. That’s pretty much the bottom line.
How Much Does Web Hosting Cost?
As with a lot of questions, the answer is, it depends.
Each of the different options gives you a different price point and a different level of service and features.
There are also services like WordPress.com or Wix or Squarespace. However, there are a lot of different limitations to sites like that that a lot of people don’t want to have to deal with. I’ll write more about this elsewhere, but let’s stick to actual hosting for now and not free or freemium site hosting services.
So, we’ve established that there are some free options, but nn the other end of the spectrum, you could spend hundreds, perhaps even $1,000 per month for a high-end hosting service. For many people, let’s face it for most people, that’s a little too steep.
Of course, if you have a very high traffic site and you want the absolute best, it can be worth it. Fortunately, there are quite a number of web hosting companies that offer cheaper, reliable service for as little as a few dollars per month. One really cool thing, a lot of times you’ll even get a free domain name and even the cheapest web hosting services generally have very close to 100% of time.
So, for just a few dollars, plus the price of a WordPress theme, if that is something you’re interested in, you can get your website online quickly and easily. If you’re on a budget, some of these very cheap hosting companies are a great choice. But, let’s go back to free hosting.
Free Hosting, That Sounds Best, Right?
Well free is a very good price, and you sometimes get what you pay for. The problem with free web hosting services is that there is always a catch. In this case, there are quite a number of drawbacks to consider.
- Advertisements – Most of the time, free web hosting will force your visitors to see advertisements that you’re not interested in showing them. Not necessarily what you want. When they give you something for free, somebody’s got to pay for all those pixels and that’s how these companies work. They show ads that get clicked on a few times a day and they make a few cents per click. If you want the flexibility to show your own ads, or no advertisements at all, a free host isn’t a great fit.
- Limited Traffic – A lot of times, the free web hosting services will limit the amount of traffic that you can get per day. For very small sites, this is not a big deal, you probably won’t bump into that limit. However, everyone’s goal is to drive as much traffic as they can to their site. With a lot of hard work, you can very easily surpassed those limits that are placed on your site and that can be a real detriment to growing your business.
- Poor Performance – What’s more, many of the free hosting companies will actually limit the speed that your page loads at. You will oftentimes got a very poorly performing site that loads up slow and that can deliver a user experience that people or not into. Having a faster living site keeps people more engaged and keeps them from hitting the back button right when they appear on your site.
- Limited Features – While a lot of free hosting companies offer eCommerce, it’s not a guarantee. If you are trying to sell products or services, these free sites are not a great option. Also, sort of going along with that, they just aren’t all that professional. If you’re building a business, you want to earn trust and that can be a whole lot easier with even a cheap web host. That way, you can offer all the features that you need.
- You’re Locked In – If you want to move your website, it can be pretty difficult to export your content to another hosting company, which can be a pain. If you only have a few posts, you can always just copy and paste, but if you’ve created hundreds or even thousands of posts and pages, that can get old in a hurry.
Considering all of these disadvantages, a cheap web hosting account can really pay for itself quickly, just a few dollars a month and you’ll have a great-looking site, more flexibility and you’ll be able to display only what you want to display to your visitors.
What different types of web hosting options are there?
Okay, now we are getting somewhere. This is the important stuff, so pay attention. All there are quite a few different options that I’m not going to cover, the three basic hosting options are:
- Shared Hosting
- VPS or Virtual Private Server
- Dedicated Hosting
Which of these three you choose, it sort of depends on what type of site you were trying to build. If you just want a very simple blog or an informational business page, you might want to use a shared account. If you’re looking to start an e-commerce site oh, you might want something different. If your site is going to be sizable, another option might be best. It’s all about what you need and what your website needs.
One thing to bear in mind when selecting the type of what I was thinking you were going to have, think about the features that they offer. Security and performance, ease-of-use and the power to grow your business, not to mention how much work you will need to put in to make the most of your new hosting account. All these factors are important and certainly something that you’ll need to consider. Hopefully by the end of this post, you will have a really great idea of what to look for.
As with anything, money can be a bit of a factor as well. It’s very easy to overspend and purchase web hosting that you simply don’t need. Wall more expensive hosts generally have a lot of features and flexibility, if you’re only getting a few hits per day, he simply don’t need to spend $30 or $40 a month on hosting. So, let’s dive a little deeper into each of the three main options to see which one is best for your website.
Shared hosting is a little bit like an apartment building for your website. You share a lot of common space with your neighbors. This can be very beneficial for a lot of ways, although there are quite a few drawbacks. It’s like living in an apartment, you’ll be sharing a lot of common space.
You will have neighbors that share even the same IP address, sharing server resources like CPU performance, disk space, memory and data limits. For a lot of sites, shared to server resources is a perfectly acceptable solution.
One of the problems is, if you have a neighbor who is particularly successful, driving a lot of traffic to their site, it can sort of clogged up the parking lot if you know. Let’s look at the advantages and disadvantages of shared hosting.
- Cheap – Shared hosting is generally going to be the cheapest solution for web hosting. Considering how much resources you are sharing with others, the cost is spread out. If your site, and your neighboring sites, don’t get too much traffic, this can be a perfectly acceptable thing to have. How cheap? You should be able to find a reasonable shared host for under $5 a month.
- Easy to Set Up -Oftentimes, hosting companies will just take care of everything for you and you can get right to the process of creating content for your site. Most web hosts should also offer a free domain name with your hosting account.
- Shared Resources -One of the downsides of shared hosting, you have to share everything. That means that if one of your neighbors is taking up a lot of memory, generating a lot of traffic, your site might actually slow down. That can be unacceptable once you are driving a little bit more traffic to your website.
- Bad Neighbors – What do I mean by bad neighbors? Well, not everybody is trying to do things the right way. Sometimes, you will find websites that are generating spammy links, have porn on them or they’re gambling websites. Being associated with sites like this can be detrimental, making your side look a little bit less professional and possibly even resulting in penalties from Google. This is something that should be avoided.
So, that’s the rundown on shared hosting. Of course, shared hosting is a great solution for a lot of people. If you don’t mind some of the drawbacks, the price is so reasonable that anyone to get started quickly and on the budget. If your site does begin to grow and generate more traffic, you can always upgrade your posting plan to one of the other two options. The first of which is…
Virtual Private Server Hosting
This is a big step up from shared hosting, virtual private server or VPS is more like living in your own town house. There are a few things that you share with your neighbors, but for the most part, what’s inside is completely yours.
With VPS hosting, you still end up sharing the server with other websites, but you’re going to be sharing them with a lot fewer websites. You don’t share all of the resources, resources are evenly split up. That means that, since you will have your own IP address for your site, you won’t have any bad neighbors annoying you by playing loud music late at night or whatever it is that other websites do that is annoying.
Anyway, you will have your limits and they will have theirs. That means that your neighbors can’t affect the performance of your website and that can be beneficial to build in traffic and creating a really professional place for your site to live.
- Flexibility – VPS hosting is, by nature, a lot more flexible than shared hosting. You can customize a lot of different things and make changes that don’t affect anyone else. This can be important if you need to add certain functionality to your hosting service.
- No Shared Resources – Since you don’t have to share any resources with other websites, all of the performance advantages of your hosting account will benefit your side, not somebody else’s. This means that you won’t get slowed down by how’s your neighbors website performing poorly or drawing resources away from your site.
- Powerful! – In general, VPS hosting accounts deliver better performance. Faster load times, more memory, more storage, more files, more of everything. VPS is also more scalable and for high traffic websites, it is a must-have.
- Cost – There’s no getting around it, you get what you pay for. VPS hosting is quite a bit more expensive than shared hosting. You can typically find VPS services for around 20 to $50 per month, as opposed to the under $5 price tag of shared hosting.
- Not Beginner Friendly -Self managed VPS hosting accounts can be a little bit tricky to set up and maintain, it’s not nearly as beginner-friendly as a shared account can be.
So, VPS hosting is a little bit more expensive but you get a lot more performance. It can be a bit tricky to set up, but it’s ultimately a lot more flexible than a shared Hosting account. That’s the basic rundown.
Finally, we have dedicated hosting. Dedicated hosting is like living in your very own house. Everything is yours, but fortunately, you don’t have to do literally everything yourself. This type of hosting it has a lot of really distinct advantages that will get into.
- No Neighbors – Not only will you not have any bad neighbors, you don’t have any Neighbors at all. The entire server is yours so performance is based on what you are willing to spend. You will have your own IP address so that nobody else can sully your good name.
- Flexibility and Control – Your server customization is completely under your control. You can choose how much memory, what types of hard drives your information is stored on, everything. This is the most control that you can get with a web host.
- Really Expensive -Dedicated hosting is certainly the most expensive option, it can cost you upwards of $100 per month for a managed or semi managed dedicated server. If you’re just starting out, that can be cost-prohibitive.
- Can Be More Technical -While dedicated hosting can be a bit more technical, it doesn’t have to be. You can choose a fully managed hosting service, something like WP Engine, and that means that you won’t have to dive into all of the technical stuff. They’ll even help you out if your site gets hacked, which can be a really great benefit.
- Can Be More Responsibility -Setting up and installing your content management system, setting up and installing a theme, handling security, that is all up to you with an unmanaged dedicated service. I mentioned WP Engine before, they offer managed hosting, so depending on what you want to spend, this disadvantage can be avoided.
So, dedicated hosting is quite a bit more expensive, but it does offer the best performance. For websites that are dealing with massive amounts of traffic, this can be a real benefit, helping your site to rank better, perform better and look better.
Dedicated vs Managed and Unmanaged VPS vs Shared Hosting? Which is Best?
Well, we are kind of back to where we began. But, hopefully with a lot more information under our belt. Which of these hosting types is going to be best for your website? That all depends on your needs and your resources.
Shared hosting is probably the best option for beginners and very small websites that don’t drive a lot of traffic. At first, when you’re just getting started out, there can be a lot thrown at you. Trying to figure out how to install WordPress, how to install a theme, how to create a database, that can be a bit daunting just by itself. I’m not going to lie, it took me quite a while to learn how to do all of that, since I had absolutely no knowledge at the beginning. For me, the first hosting that I ever had was shared hosting and it worked out great for a few months. Once my website began to generate a bit more traffic, I stepped up to better hosting. If you’re just learning or you have a static business site or even a small personal blog, shared hosting is really the place to start.
If you have a bit of a higher budget and you’re expecting that your website will generate quite a bit of traffic, VPS hosting can give you access to the resources your site will need to grow. VPS still isn’t particularly technical gamma I found that it was not much different than shared hosting, it is simply offered more performance and a little bit more flexibility. Of course, you will probably find yourself looking at plenty of tutorials to find out how to do certain things at that was done automatically in shared hosting. So, that can be a bit of a learning curve, but flexibility and better performance is worth it in my opinion.
Dedicated hosting, while the most powerful and highest performance, is a bit much for most users. If you are looking for a site with the most security possible, the fastest page load times and for handling very high volumes of traffic, dedicated hosting is probably what you should be looking at. It has all the features you need to create a very professional site.
This is where I am at these days, I have moved from shared hosting to a simple VPS that was managed to now completely unmanaged, dedicated host. It’s taking me awhile to learn all of this stuff, but I think the performance is quite beneficial and I don’t think I would change a thing.
If you’re a beginner, just grab a decent chair hosting plan. It’s going to be cheap, easy to use and it’s got everything that you need to get started.
While I have used several different web hosting Services, Bluehost is one that I particularly like. That was the first Hosting account that I ever had and I found it to be really easy to use and the support was always fast and very helpful. So, maybe that’s a good place to start for you?
Hopefully you have enjoyed your read through, I hope that this guide full gives you all the information that you need to make an educated choice about what hosting you need and what your requirements are. We will be back soon with more awesome WordPress information, check back to see what is new.