What Type of Web Hosting Plan do You Need?
Last updated on Jan 12, 2017
If you have ever purchased web hosting, you might already be aware that there are various web hosting plans and types. You can pick from shared hosting packages and go right up to a powerful dedicated server for your website.
Amidst such different options, which one is ideal for you? Of course, we know that dedicated servers can power large websites with a lot of traffic whereas shared hosting plans are for smaller and less busy websites. But how do you figure out which plan your website actually needs?
If you fail to pick the correct hosting plan, you might end up wasting money on resources and features that your website does not need. In this article, we shall be taking a look at some of the common web hosting offerings and the intended or possible usage of each.
The most common web hosting option, shared hosting, basically means that your website shares the resources of a given server with other sites. You are allotted a share of the resources on the server, and if your websites consumes more resources, it is throttled or suspended.
Naturally, this web hosting is perfect when you know the level of resources and memory your website can possibly consume. So, you need to predict the future?
Not really. For disk space and bandwidth, the calculation is fairly easy and you can always assess before hand if or when you run out of disk space. Similarly, web hosts are lenient when it comes to bandwidth simply because it is fairly cheaper.
However, the main bottleneck happens to be memory and CPU resources. If your website consumes too many processes and memory, you probably have outgrown shared hosting. Mind you, traffic itself is not the culprit here — a poorly optimized website can struggle on a shared server even if it gets minimal traffic.
Shared hosting is ideal for:
- Websites with limited traffic
- Websites that do not require lots of memory and CPU resources
Virtual Private Servers
Virtual Private Servers, or VPS, is often projected as the next step when your website outgrows shared hosting. This image, however, is not entirely true as we shall see later in this article.
VPS means you are not given a full server but instead provided a layer of virtualization on a given server. As such, you have a fixed quota of server specs that you still do share with others, albeit to a lesser extent. You can run custom scripts, SSH access and do a lot more on a VPS.
A VPS tends to be divided into managed and unmanaged offerings. A managed VPS is a better choice for folks who do not wish to or are unable to handle server management. Obviously, a managed VPS is costlier than an unmanaged VPS because in the latter you pay only for the server and not for management.
Running your website on a VPS is not uncommon but it often gets more complicated than it ought to be. To begin with, if you are on an unmanaged VPS, you have to take care of server security and script updates (which is never an interesting task to do). On the other hand, if you are on a managed VPS, you might end up paying more money than necessary because you also have to pay the fees for stuff such as cPanel licenses, additional third-party scripts, and so on.
That said, a VPS is ideal if:
- You are not yet ready for a dedicated server
- Your website contains data that many hosts might not allow on shared servers (minecraft hosting, Xenforo forums as well as gray political activism are often not preferred by shared hosting providers)
A semi-dedicated hosting package should always be your next step up from a shared hosting environment. This tends to be way more powerful than a VPS in the longer run and way cheaper.
Semi-dedicated hosting, essentially, is shared hosting on steroids. You still are in a shared environment wherein you share resources with other users. However, the number of users and websites comes down. Thus, if you were given 20% of a server’s resources earlier, you may now get 50% or more, as the case may be.
Obviously, this means your website can run bigger scripts and entertain more traffic owing to extra resources that are now available to you. Since there is no additional licensing etc. involved, semi-dedicated hosting costs more than shared hosting but way lesser than an equivalent VPS.
Semi-dedicated web hosting is ideal for:
- Websites that require more server resources
- Folks who cannot afford a dedicated server and/or a VPS either due to financial or technical concerns
The name “dedicated server” is fairly obvious — your website gets a server that is dedicated entirely for it. No other user or site runs from that server.
This means all the resources of the given server are available at your disposal. This is generally meant for extremely busy and big websites that need all the resources that a server has to offer.
Dedicated servers are ideal if:
- Your website gets a lot of traffic and needs a specialized server
- You store sensitive data and you’d rather do such transactions from your own server than from a shared platform
The term “cloud” has long been misused and overused. In fact, cloud hosting in itself is a vague concept. Anything that does not operate by means of clusters is not pure cloud, and anything that operates via cloud clusters is never cheap.
As such, the $4 per month cloud plans are rarely true cloud platforms.
However, even if you do find a true cloud hosting solution, finding good use for it is another task at hand. More often than not, most users do not need a cloud hosting solution. In fact, non-enterprise cloud usage is still minimal.
That said, you might be better off investing in a proper Content Delivery Network for your website that will give you the power of cloud hosting while keeping your data on your shared server or otherwise. This way, you can save a good deal of money and still harness the speed and power of cloud hosting. CloudFlare and MaxCDN are good CDN options to begin with.
- Reseller hosting is when you have multiple websites and need a common plan that keeps all sites autonomous yet on the same place. See this post.
- WordPress hosting, as is obvious, is for WordPress users who need specialized solutions for their WP websites or blogs. See this post.
- Colocation hosting is when your provider does not offer you a hosting server but instead, rents out space to you in an actual datacenter. You can then setup your own web hosting server therein.
So there you have it, some of the top web hosting types and options. Which one do you think is a better fit for your website? Share your views in the comments below!
Sufyan is a contributor to a variety of websites and blogs about technology, Linux, open source, web design, content management systems and web development. Learn more about his works on sufyanism.com