In order to launch a website, you need at least 3 things:
- Domain Name
- Web Hosting
Assuming that you have already registered a domain name and have a website ready to go, the next thing you will need to get is web hosting.
What is Web Hosting?
Generally speaking, web hosting is a website storage service. When you access a website via the internet, that website must be stored on a web server connected to the internet. Web hosting companies or providers, own and “rent” out storage space on their servers.
What is a Web Server
A web server is basically a computer (i.e. it has a CPU, RAM and a hard drive, among other things) not unlike your home or office computer. However, web servers are computers that are connected to the internet and specifically configured to serve web pages to viewers upon request.
Linux vs. Windows
Linux is an open source operating system for web servers. Windows is Microsoft’s proprietary series of operating systems for web servers. Since Linux is open source, it is free…i.e. there are no licensing fees to pay, so many hosting companies feature Linux because the lower cost enables them to offer lower pricing.
Different Types of Web Hosting Plans
There are essentially four types of hosting plans (packages) that most large hosting companies (providers) offer:
Shared hosting is the least expensive option. Why? That is because as the name implies, you are “sharing” your server resources (CPU speed, RAM and hard drive space) with a large number of other customers from your hosting provider. As a result, there are some drawbacks. For instance, if any one of the websites have malicious code (website is hacked) or simply gets a lot of traffic, this will negatively impact the performance of all other websites on that same shared server. Generally speaking, shared hosting is still a very popular and adequate choice for most smaller, low traffic websites.
VPS (Virtual Private Server) still uses a shared environment, but it is implemented in much better ways. For example, unlike a shared hosting server which can have well over 1,000 websites, a VPS server typically may have fewer than 15-20 websites. And with VPS, you are allocated your own share of the total RAM and HD space. So, if one of the websites uses all of its RAM, unlike in a shared environment, all other websites on VPS should be unaffected.
VPS is also more expensive than shared hosting.
As the name implies, Dedicated hosting, means that you get the entire server “dedicated” to your use. Thus, there are no others with whom to share any resources, and it also offers much more flexibility in customization. For example, you can select the amount and type of RAM, the OS to install and other hardware. You can also run many more applications.
However, in order to “run” a dedicated server, generally you’ll need some server tech skills, even with a managed dedicated hosting plan. As you might guess, Dedicated hosting is even more expensive than VPS.
Cloud hosting allows a much greater degree of scalability through the use of resources across multiple servers in a network. Not only is this beneficial in terms of performance, but in terms of security as well.
So, What type of Hosting is Best for Your Website?
It all depends on your needs. You should speak with your web developer/web designer to help you decide which is best for you.