Selecting the right kind of hosting for your blog can be confusing – there are a number of options out there. For the purposes of this post, we’ll concentrate on the three main types of hosting:
- Shared servers
- Virtual Private Servers (VPS)
- Dedicated servers.
Before going any further, you may want to remind yourself of what exactly web hosting is and why you need it.
Hosting is the file storage, security, and bandwidth of your blog on a server that is maintained by a hosting service. The hosting service is the ‘home’ of your blog, the neighborhood it resides in, if you like.
In a nutshell, shared hosting allows multiple users and accounts to be hosted on a single web server. The simplest way to picture this is that it is like living in a block of flats.
Dedicated hosting is a single server devoted to one user. Using a similar picture description…. It’s more like a detached stand-alone house in the country!
Virtual Private Servers (VPS) is a good middle of the range option that partitions off a part of a shared server solely for you to use. Following on with the picture example, this is like having your own house in a neighborhood, rather than an apartment in a block of flats. You get the best of both worlds – cheaper rent, and all the privacy and security having your own house affords!
Analogies aside, each server has its benefits and you should take these into account depending on your own individual needs. In general, we recommend a VPS server, in terms of performance, management, security and cost.
Shared hosting allows many website to use a single server. Usually, you don’t know who (what other websites) you are sharing with. You share the resources of the server, and each user has a limit of the amount of server space or resources they can use. This is decided by what hosting package you take.
The main selling point of shared hosting is that it is cheaper than other hosting options. If you are going with shared hosting, you should choose a company that you trust, given that most offer the same amount of storage space. Prices usually range from $2.99-$9.99 per month.
You will usually also have a built in control panel to make managing your site easier, and the hosting service will do technical maintenance to the site for you.
On the downside, being part of a shared hosting service means your site shares a server with many other sites – this means the volume of traffic, or number of users, using the service can affect your speed. You may find your blog running slowly when there is a high volume of traffic on your site or find that it is loading slowly. This is bad, because it can seriously affect your sites ranking ability on Google, particularly now that Google has introduced the “Mobile First” algorithm update which has a huge focus on web page load times.
Furthermore, your site may not be as secure – if others using the server are engaging in non-secure activities, there’s a small risk to the security of your own site. And, you may lose access to the server whilst the maintenance cleans up the mess. Likewise, you can be asked to leave if you break rules relating to security and usage. Naturally, there is less room for customisation, meaning you can’t optimize your site to be the best it can be!
Essentially, shared hosting is inexpensive, so it’s an affordable way to start your own blog, although I wouldn’t recommend it.
Dedicated hosting means that your website has its own ‘dedicated’ server all to itself – it’s an option that offers immense power and flexibility but is expensive. Many websites start off with a shared hosting plan. They grow and consequently, exceed the shared hosting service’s limits. This is when they would need to upgrade to Dedicated or VPS hosting.
You should be looking for a Dedicated Hosting service if your website is growing and needs to be able to handle a lot of traffic. Be wary of misjudging this – sudden spikes in growth are a bad reason to change your hosting service. If your website growth is gradual and steady, consider upgrading as it will be worth the extra expense!
If security is a concern, you should also look for a Dedicated server. Security is of course important for all websites, but especially for those handling sensitive information like credit or debit card numbers, emails, or confidential customer information like addresses. It’s important to protect your customers’ information by keeping your website clear of viruses, hackers and other risks. With a Dedicated server, you’re in charge of your site’s security – that means you can ensure your customers and your site stay safe.
The only downsides are the cost and that you will surely need some technical knowledge to work these hosting servers. It’s best for established businesses or individuals with a well-established website, who want to implement their own security regulations, handle high volumes of traffic, a lot of data, and know how to customize their domain!
VPS Hosting (Virtual Private Server)
VPS Hosting is when part of a shared server is reserved for your own use. It’s a great middle ground of the 3 main types of hosting.
The negatives are that you don’t have access to the entire server’s resources. Also, other users activity may, rarely, affect you. The positives however, outweigh the negatives – it’s a low-cost, low-maintenance option that guarantees you most of the flexibility and quality of a Dedicated server.
In a sense, have a server all to yourself – you can do whatever you want with your site, the customization options are limitless! You also don’t have to worry about slow speeds and security risks, except from at your end.
Not all VPS hosting is the same however. There are three main factors to consider: -
- Performance & Features
The range and variables of these points across all providers vary so much. I have looked hard at this and have found very few that excel at all three points
The best VPS hosting that I have come across is DreamHost. Click the image below to check it out. Their cost is extremely reliable. The server performance and features are first class and their support is very good and efficient: -