Web hosting is a fundamental expense that you’ll incur when operating a website. Unless you own your server — a high-end computer configured with Apache, MySQL and PHP — you must rent one from a web hosting company, which will allow you to upload and host your website’s files on their server for as long as you remain subscribed to their plan.
It’s crucial that you choose the right type of web hosting service. Most fall under one of three categories: shared, virtual private server (VPS) or dedicated. While they all involve renting a server, web hosting comparison comes down to the varying features and pricing depending on the specific type.
So, which kind of web hosting service should you choose?
What Is Shared Hosting?
Shared hosting is a service in which multiple customers rent and use the same server without fixed allocation of the server’s resources, including its memory, process time (CPU), disk space and bandwidth. Most shared hosting plans restrict customers to a specific amount of the server’s resources. Without fixed allocation of these resources, however, performance issues may arise when customers begin consuming a significant amount of resources. For example, if other websites hosted on the same shared server as your site start to receive a lot of traffic, your website’s load times may slow to a crawl.
Shared hosting is comparable to a hotel, in which all guests pay for a room but share communal facilities like the gym, swimming pool, lounge and parking lot. When the hotel’s guests have filled these communal facilities, you’ll have to wait your turn to use them. This same principle applies to shared hosting: Customers collectively share all the server’s resources, and once they are in full use, no other customers can use them.
Advantages of Shared Hosting
The low price of shared hosting — some plans cost as little as $3 or $4 per month — makes it an attractive choice for webmasters on a budget. Shared hosting is also easy for beginners to navigate. They almost always have a web-based graphical interface, such as cPanel or Plesk, from which you can view traffic logs, manage domains, upload new files, read email and more.
Disadvantages of Shared Hosting
Using shared hosting increases the risk of both slow speeds as well as cyber attacks. Some shared servers host thousands of websites. Sites that don’t generate much traffic shouldn’t consume too much of the server’s resources, but if they suddenly become popular and receive thousands of visits per day, the performance of all websites hosted on the server can get bogged down. That includes your site.
Protecting against cyber attacks can be more difficult with shared hosting because multiple customers share access to the same pool of server resources. If a web hosting company overlooks a security vulnerability, a ill-meaning customer could gain access to other customers’ websites and data. Thankfully, most reputable web hosting companies emphasise cybersecurity, even for shared hosting plans. If you’re going to host your website on a shared server, make sure the company offering it is reputable.
Web Hosting Comparison
What Is VPS Hosting?
A Virtual Private Server (VPS) gives customers access to a fixed amount of its resources. While both VPS and shared hosting place multiple customers on a single server, the former allocates a specific amount of the server’s resources to each customer, whereas the latter provides a shared pool of resources. Unlike shared hosting, VPS hosting guarantees customers access to a predetermined amount of the server’s resources.
Advantages of VPS Hosting
Because it provides customers with a fixed amount of the server’s resources, VPS hosting is faster and more reliable than shared hosting. Even if another customer’s website on the same server picks up traffic, it won’t affect the speed or performance of your site. Instead, the high-traffic customer will eventually reach his or her resource cap, at which point their website will begin to slow down. As long as you stay within your resource cap, your site shouldn’t experience speed or performance issues.
VPS hosting is also scalable, which means you can increase or decrease the number of server resources allocated to your hosting account. If your website begins to attract a large audience, for example, you can upgrade your VPS hosting to a higher-tier plan that provides you with more resources. In the unfortunate case where your website loses its audience and attracts less traffic, you can downgrade your VPS hosting to a lower-tier plan with fewer resources.
Disadvantages of VPS Hosting
VPS hosting is more expensive than shared hosting. While prices vary depending on the provider and the number of allocated resources, most hosting companies sell VPS plans ranging from $30 to $150 month.
Setting up your website on VPS hosting can also be more difficult than with shared hosting. Unless it’s a managed VPS hosting service, you’ll be required to set up, configure and update the server. Not only is this time consuming, but it’s also technical and requires knowledge of Linux coding.
Neither the price nor difficulty of setup, however, should discourage you from choosing VPS hosting. A VPS plan is still cheaper than a dedicated hosting plan, and its added performance benefits make it well worth the investment. Furthermore, you can avoid the headache of setting up, configuring and updating your server by choosing a fully managed VPS hosting plan. With a fully managed VPS plan, the hosting provider will handle all the technical legwork so that you can focus on building your website and turning it into a success.
What Is Dedicated Hosting?
With dedicated hosting, you get exclusive access to all the server’s resources. It’s called dedicated hosting because each server has a single, dedicated customer. When you sign up for a plan, the service gives you the login details necessary to use the server, which no other customers can access.
Advantages of Dedicated Hosting
Dedicated hosting offers even faster speeds than VPS hosting. You don’t have to worry about other customers’ websites slowing down your website because no one will have access to it. This eliminates the problem of performance bottlenecks caused by other customers’ websites.
With a dedicated server, you’ll get a unique Internet Protocol (IP) address, which anyone who performs a reverse IP check on your website will see. If you use shared hosting, on the other hand, your site will have the same IP address as many others. If one of those other websites is malicious, search engines could flag yours as being malicious as well.
You’ll also have greater freedom to set up and configure a dedicated server than with other types of web hosting. Dedicated hosting offers root access to the server, allowing you to install your own software and customise the server’s architecture.
Disadvantages of Dedicated Hosting
It shouldn’t surprise you to learn that dedicated hosting is the most expensive type of hosting service. Most dedicated hosting plans begin at $100 per month, with some costing $300 or more per month.
Similar to VPS hosting, you’re typically responsible for configuring and maintaining your dedicated server. The only exception is when you choose a managed dedicated hosting plan, in which case the hosting company will handle this.
The right web hosting service will help you build a more successful website and web hosting comparison is the crucial first step to take when setting up your site. Whether you choose shared, VPS or dedicated hosting, though, make sure you get it from a reliable, trusted web-hosting company.
Do you need more help with your web hosting? Get in touch with us to discuss your options.