Choosing a web host provider can be challenging at its best. With so many hosting companies vying for your business, it’s easy to become overwhelmed with features, prices, and technical terms like bandwidth, CDN, and cPanel.
Not to mention, you might have no idea what the different web hosting plans are.
If you are just starting out and want to start a self-hosted WordPress blog or open up an eCommerce shop, you are going to need more than just a domain name and a website. In fact, you are going to need a web host.
Web hosting is a service that stores your website’s data and delivers it to anyone that clicks on your website. Using powerful servers located in secure data centers, the right web hosting provider will not only ensure your website renders fast to site visitors, but stays secure from outside attacks, both in a physical and virtual sense.
With that said, let’s take a look at the most common types of web hosting plans that are available so that you can determine which one is going to best serve your hosting needs.
In fact, whether you are just starting out, or are ready to take your business to the next level, understanding the different types of hosting plans is a must.
Types of Web Hosting Services Explained
Typically, there are 4 different types of web hosting to choose from: Shared, Virtual Private Server (VPS), Dedicated, and Cloud Hosting. Each of these are going to vary in their feature set, storage capacity, level of control, technical knowledge requirements, reliability, and speed.
In addition, there are specialty hosting services available with some hosting companies that may better suit your needs that we will briefly discuss as well.
1. Shared Hosting
For those just starting out, or those that are on a tight budget, shared hosting is the way to go. In fact, if you are building your first website, shared hosting is going to be the number one recommended hosting solution.
With shared hosting, you share a server with other customers. This means that your website’s data, along with hundreds of other customer’s website data, is stored on the same physical hardware. Everyone shares resources, such as RAM (memory) and CPU (the place where instructions are received and executed), which helps reduce the cost of the hosting services.
This solution is great for those that don’t require a lot of resources, don’t experience a lot of web traffic, and want to minimize the costs of maintaining a website. It is also good for those with limited technical knowledge since there is not a lot of server control in shared hosting.
That said, there are some drawbacks to using a shared hosting plan:
- Since you share resources, anytime another customer requires more resources for their site, say in the case of a viral post, your site’s resources will reduce and things like speed and uptime may become compromised
- Resource use is limited, so scaling your business becomes more difficult as your website’s traffic increases
- If the server your site’s data is being stored on crashes, your site will crash and you will experience downtime
There is nothing inherently wrong with a shared hosting plan. In fact, many successful websites use shared hosting and never have any issues. However, if you are running a highly trafficked website, or plan to scale quickly in the near future, you might want to consider a different hosting plan.
2. Virtual Private Server (VPS) Hosting
When you choose a VPS hosting plan, your site’s data is still stored on a physical server, much like it is with shared hosting. However, the physical server is split into dedicated “virtual” sections. Each customer then has their own slice of the server pie. This means that if one customer on the server overuses their resources or crashes their section, your site and its uptime will remain unaffected.
In addition, since multiple customers are still using the physical server, the price of hosting your website remains low. You also have root access to your virtual server space, your site is more secure from malicious attack, and the speed and reliability of your website remain intact because no other websites draw from your allotted amount of resources. Lastly, your ability to scale is easier since your resources are reserved for your use only.
3. Dedicated Hosting
Dedicated hosting is the opposite of shared hosting. You rent an entire server for your website’s data and have exclusive rights to all of the resources available. You also have full control over the server, including root access, and can make changes to the servers as needed.
This type of hosting plan is for those that have well established and highly trafficked websites that need a lot of resources to host all of the information on their site. There are two major drawbacks to having a dedicated hosting plan:
- The cost to rent an entire server is high, though if you require a dedicated server your business should be generating enough revenue to cover the cost
- There is a certain level of technical knowledge needed to maintain your own server, though there are services available to help you manage your server if you need it
4. Cloud Hosting
Cloud hosting works in a cloud environment, which lends to unlimited scaling ability. That means if your website has an unusual amount of traffic, your resources and site uptime will not be affected.
With cloud hosting, multiple servers work together to house your site’s data and deliver site content to your site visitors. If one server crashes for any given reason, the other servers in your grid take over and your site continues to operate. As your business grows, since your hosting plan works with hundreds of servers, you can easily add additional resources to your plan.
You are usually only charged for the resources you use when using cloud hosting, which makes this type of hosting appealing to those that do not want to share an environment, need to be able to scale quickly, and yet want to keep costs down.
Alternative Hosting Solutions
As we mentioned earlier, there are other types of hosting plans available depending on your needs.
- Managed WordPress Hosting. Since WordPress powers 29% of the internet, it is no wonder there is specialized hosting just for WordPress sites. With this type of hosting, everything is handled for you including site backups, updates, security monitoring, and more. In addition, you don’t have to worry about anything technical and you receive expert WordPress support. Check out WP Engine, SiteGround, and Flywheel. And of course, don’t forget the fact that here at StackPress we specialize in nothing but managed WordPress hosting. Offering customers services such as automatic WordPress installs, extensive caching, daily cloud backups, free SSL certificates, and expert support, you can rest assured your WordPress site is in good hands.
- Reseller Hosting. Those that want to resell their own web hosting services to people will use reseller hosting to make things easier. Plans come with multiple shared hosting accounts that you then resell for a fee. They come white labeled so no one knows which hosting company the hosting services are coming from. With this hosting plan you have technical control, built-in billing software, and the support team of the hosting provider. For reseller hosting, look into SiteGround, InMotion Hosting, and HostGator.
- Colocation Hosting. With colocation hosting, you rent “racks space” in a data center to house your own server hardware. The host will provide the power, storage facility, and an uplink. However, you are responsible for everything else, including the hardware if it fails. This is for advanced webmasters who know exactly what they are doing. Two reliable hosting providers that have colocation hosting are Liquid Web and Rackspace.
In the end, there are several different types of web hosting solutions to choose from. It is important you evaluate your individual needs to help narrow down which type of plan you need. From there, research the top hosting companies and see which ones have the speed, reliability, features, and support you need.
It is good to know that most hosting providers have all of the hosting solutions available. That makes scaling up and down easy, especially if you start out with a simple shared hosting plan.
So, take a look at the size of your website, as well as your budget, and start looking for the best hosting solution for your website needs.
What type of hosting plan do you have on your website? Which hosting provider did you go with and why? I would love to hear all about it in the comments below!