If you’ve got a website—whether it’s a blog, an e-commerce store, or a business site—web hosting is one of the most important decisions you can make! Getting this wrong upfront can cause some tricky issues, but getting it right can make a huge difference to your growth.
If you’re trying to choose the right kind of web hosting for your business, it might seem like a daunting task. With 10 different types of hosting out there, how do you know what will work best for your business?
The good news is that you don’t need to sift through every type to find the one that’s best for you. In most cases, you only need to decide between four: shared hosting, dedicated hosting, VPS hosting, and cloud hosting.
Shared hosting is popular, mostly because it’s the most affordable type of hosting you can find. The caveat is that your website is hosted on a server along with many other websites—in some cases, you may be sharing space with hundreds or even thousands of other sites.
This means that the resources the server holds are shared between all the websites on it. Shared resources mean your website is likely to load up more slowly, have limits on what sort of plugins and third-party apps you can install, and security may be poor.
If your website suddenly gets a lot more traffic than usual—like if a social media post goes viral—it steals away resources from other sites on the server. Your host may then throttle your site, which will slow it way down and kick off a lot of your traffic.
Who Should Use Shared Hosting?
If you’re on a budget, shared hosting is the most likely option. It could work well for websites that are very light on resources, one-page websites, and those who aren’t expecting a whole lot of traffic.
Dedicated hosting gives your website its very own server. That means it doesn’t have to share resources or space with anyone else, which has a positive effect on your website loading time, your uptime, and your website’s security.
You have complete control over the server, so there are no limitations on what you can download, add to, or change on your site. Whether you want to install more security measures or dictate how your users interact with your site, you can do it with dedicated hosting.
The downside is that dedicated hosting costs a fair bit more than shared hosting. But when you consider the effects this has on your website in terms of speed and usability, it’s quite worth the extra cost.
Who Should Use Dedicated Hosting?
We recommend dedicated hosting for websites that have many pages, a high level of traffic (or are expecting lots of traffic), or for sites whose owners want full control of the resources on their servers. It’s also a much better option for those who are security-conscious!
Cloud hosting may be the newest type of web hosting, but it has certain benefits that the other hosting types don’t. Instead of a cloud web host placing your website on just one server, it stores it across multiple servers… Throughout the world.
It might sound complicated, but it’s actually quite a handy way of doing things. Whether your website visitors come from your own country or somewhere across the globe, your website will load quickly, be more reliable, and stay safer with layered security features. These servers also come with automatic backup and disaster recovery features as a bonus.
Another popular feature of cloud hosting is how scalable it is. You can always upgrade your RAM and CPU if your website grows significantly, which is super handy.
If you’re conscious of the environment, cloud servers are also a little more eco-friendly than others. Because there are no physical servers to run, cloud servers actually end up saving energy.
The biggest downside to cloud hosting is its cost. It’s not cheap, which means it won’t be affordable for everyone. However, the price you pay for it is worth the high performance and security levels it offers.
Who Should Use Cloud Hosting?
Cloud hosting is a great choice for website owners who have the budget to spend and are looking for the best uptime, security, and backup. It’s also highly recommended for businesses that plan to scale significantly in the future.
VPS hosting—also known as virtual private server hosting—falls somewhere between shared hosting and dedicated hosting. Your website is hosted on a server that holds multiple sites, but each site is situated on its own virtual server.
Each of these virtual servers contains its own resources, so even though your website is technically sharing space on a physical server, it’s not sharing resources with any other sites.
VPS servers are far more reliable than shared servers for this reason. You can expect decent uptime, fast loading speeds, better customer support, and a good amount of control over your own server.
These kinds of servers can also handle a good bit of traffic, so they’re suitable for larger, more traffic-heavy websites. Plus, they’re an excellent option if you want to scale your business, as they can be configured to grow with your site as it increases. Oh, and it’s quite a lot cheaper than dedicated hosting while offering many of the same benefits.
Who Should Use VPS Hosting?
If your website has medium to heavy traffic but you just don’t have the budget for dedicated hosting, VPS hosting is the best choice.
These are the only options you need to know to choose the right kind of web hosting for your business. You may have your eye on one in particular, but if you still aren’t sure, it’s a good idea to take some time and figure out exactly what you need from a web host for your business to run smoothly (now and in the future!).
If you’ve got the budget, we highly recommend cloud hosting. It’s the most reliable and scalable. On the other hand, if you’re pinching pennies, VPS hosting is our best bet. We advise against shared hosting unless you have a one-page site that isn’t expecting a lot of traffic over time.
It’s also worth knowing that it doesn’t matter if you have a WordPress site, a Squarespace site, or anything else. The pros and cons of web hosting types remain the same, and it’s in your best interest to choose a worthwhile plan at a reliable web hosting company from the start.
About the Author
Paul Wheeler is a web design specialist who runs an agency dedicated to helping small business owners optimize their most important asset—their website. He shares information, comparisons, and detailed reviews over at Reviews for Website Hosting.