Introduction to Web Hosting
Once you decided to build a website for personal or business use, the next step is to decide on the best web hosting option for you. Website hosting is basically a service provided by a company to store a website (including all files such as HTML and images) on their servers and make it available to Internet users. Such companies are called web hosts or web hosting providers and often offer different hosting services.
Types of web hosting
There are different types of web hosting services available. Just like when you set out to open your shop, you can chose from small shopping space to large area of shopping with huge parking area, you can get spaces of various scales in the online world too.
1. Shared web hosting
This is the most common website hosting service as it’s typically cheaper than most other hosting options but still offers all the features needed by business websites. With shared hosting (sometimes called standard web hosting), many websites are hosted on one server at the web host and therefore share system resources such as bandwidth, disk space and memory. If you’re looking for an economical way of hosting your site, Shared Web Hosting may be the best option as users share all the costs, meaning lower expenses for you. The main limitation of this type of hosting is that the server performance can be significantly affected especially when there are several clients with huge traffic on the same server. Good professional hosting services, watch the server performance continuously to make sure all the websites on the same server performs well. The additional advantage of this setup is that your hosting service does regular periodical maintenance of the system like upgrading the software, installing patches, backups, security from attacks etc. The service is ‘managed’ so you don't have to worry about all server maintenance tasks.
2. Dedicated web hosting
With dedicated hosting, a server is fully dedicated to one client and not shared in any way. You enjoy complete control over information stored, accessed or shared on your site .This form of hosting is often the best option for a website with very high traffic volumes or business sites that demand highest levels of security, full control and increased server performance. You will be able to install the software you want on the server. For example, if you are custom developing an online application, you will need the flexibility of a dedicated server.
One key advantage of dedicated hosting is that the server will not be overwhelmed or slowed down by traffic from other sites as system resources like processor power and memory are not shared. Additionally, it allows users to access web pages more quickly. Compared to other hosting options, however, dedicated hosting is often very expensive to maintain. Moreover, you need to have deep networking expertise to run or manage the server and a website hosted on it. Alternatively, the hosting service may offer you ‘managed dedicated server’ where the hosting service will manage regular server maintenance tasks.
3. VPS Hosting
Another common hosting option is VPS (Virtual Private Server), which is basically a partitioned section of a server. Clients usually have their own small environment within one server and are allowed to reboot it, make any alterations they wish, and access only their little part of it. VPS hosting mimics the dedicated hosting in this way, but you’re not actually on a dedicated server. It can be ideal for a business that plans to use a dedicated server but is not ready yet.
VPS web hosting is typically less expensive than dedicated hosting and may offer the ability to spread out the cost of the server as it houses several users on one server. Despite this, it’s still more expensive than shared hosting since there is more upkeep on the back-end with those costs being passed down to you. It also requires regular security patches, system updates and other maintenance tasks though not as much as dedicated web hosting.
For most websites, shared hosting is good enough. It is good enough initially, when the traffic is less than a few hundred unique visitors per day. If you are with a good hosting service, even when you cross a few thousand visitors per day, the web site will keep performing well. [image credits Robert Scoble]