If you’re reading this, chances are that you are interested in finding out more about Web Hosting or looking to buy some Web Hosting. There’s lots of information of the internet about Web Hosting, however, the trouble is, when you do a search in Google and sift through the many results you are often none the wiser. When it comes to Web Hosting, there’s a ton of techy jargon that takes a PhD to understand. Should you go with Free, Shared, VPS or Dedicated Hosting? Hopefully, this article will explain Web Hosting in terms that you’ll understand.
What is Web Hosting?
A Web Host is simply a company that provides you with server space for your website. This includes all of your web pages, graphics, scripts and files. When your web address is typed into a web browser, your web host is being contacted to locate and display the requested page (your website).
To further understand what a web host is, think of the internet as a huge city, with buildings (houses, apartments or rooms) available to rent or buy. You would need to literally rent or purchase one of these buildings for your website to stay in. Think of web hosting services as those landlords or estate agents who you contact to find a house, apartment or room for you in the Internet ‘city’.
What is Free Hosting?
Free web hosting is the most basic Web Hosting service that you can obtain – there are many free hosting companies that are available on the internet. Free hosting services are usually financed by advertisements and have certain restrictions. The type of web domain that you receive when you get a free Web Hosting is usually a sub-domain with the name that you pick (yourname.webhost.com). For example, if the name of your free host is freewebsites.com, then your web domain would be yourbusiness.freewebsites.com.
Using the analogy that I mentioned previously, you could say that free hosting is like staying at your parents’ house; it’s convenient, cheap, but comes with many restrictions and rules and you don’t have your independence. If you were running a business from your parents’ house, and your potential customers found out, they may not take you seriously.
Free hosting is the same as living at your parents’ house as it makes it hard for your potential customers to take you seriously when you’re not even willing to invest $5 a month or less to build your business. I’m referring here to services like Wix, WordPress.com (not WordPress.org), Weebly and Moonfruit. If you’re building a business, please don’t use these services as you’ll regret it later and in the long run will cost you a lot more money.
What Is Shared Hosting?
Using the ‘Building’ analogy again, Shared Hosting is like you’ve moved out of your parents’ house and are now sharing a building with other tenants. This is great as you now have your independence and can do whatever you want. Nevertheless, so can the other tenants living in the same building with you. This means that your comfort level depends on the other tenants, and the way they live – their behaviour etc. affects everyone in the building. If other tenants decide to stay up all night and have a party while you want to sleep, your attitude would change and everyone else in the building would be affected too.
It’s a good thing that you’ve finally moved out of your parents’ house and are finally building your online business, but if the other tenants (websites) start making noise (messing up) it can make you lose sleep (make your website slow) and eventually could have a detrimental effect on your health (your website crashes or goes offline).
This is just like Shared Hosting. In shared hosting you get a bunch of websites (tenants) hosted (living) in the one server (building).
Shared hosting is a perfect solution for bloggers or hobbyist who want a website to get them started and you can get some Web Hosting plans for as little as $5 a month – and sometimes less. Before I started my own business, all my websites were on Shared hosting.
I strongly recommend Bluehost as a good, reliable Shared Hosting provider – even for small Business Startups:
What is a VPS (Virtual Private Server)?
A VPS is similar to that of moving out or your shared house (Shared Hosting) and getting your own place in a small complex of apartments (VPS). You can buy your own furniture and arrange it how you would like (configure your server and settings) and you can come and go as you please. There is the potential to be disrupted by the neighbours, but since there are only a few of them and perhaps the level of entry is higher (yearly lease, higher prices, utilities etc.) you are more likely to get a good night’s rest.
This is just like a VPS, as you are on a server with a few other websites (apartments). You have more control over the server and can make specialised changes. Because there are fewer websites (apartments) and a higher barrier to entry, the chances of your website going down because of someone else’s bad behaviour are significantly lower.
What is Dedicated Hosting?
There may come a time when you need just that little bit more. Maybe you’ve gotten married and have a few children now and need a place to call your own. No neighbours attached, a nice big back garden for the children to play in that’s secluded to stop them from running on to the road. When you reach this level, it’s you that makes the decisions about everything. What colours to use for paint, the furniture you have, and you can even knock a few walls down here and there if you wanted!
You are in full control, your neighbours could do whatever they wanted and their behaviour would unlikely affect you in any way. However, the bad news is that you’re in full control now! You pay the mortgage, so if anything goes wrong you’re are responsible for fixing it!
This is like Dedicated Hosting. You have your own server, and can customise it however you want and it doesn’t’ matter what any other website owner does (neighbour).
Which one is right for you?
Running a Website as a hobbyist / Blogger
If you no plans of building a business, it’s OK to go with Free Hosting. However, taking the above points into consideration, I would still recommend Shared Hosting.
Getting Started in Business
I would recommend Shared Hosting to start with as it’s affordable and works in most situations – you can always upgrade later.
Your Business is Growing
If your business is starting to grow and are getting more website traffic and noticing that your website is becoming slower over time, then you might want to consider upgrading to a VPS.
If you are running a serious business and receive a lot of web traffic and need to have full control over your server then go with Dedicated Hosting.
What are you using right now?
I’m interested and curious in what kind of web hosting that you are using and if you are using it for your business or not. Let me know in the comments below.