There are three major types of hosting: Shared hosting, dedicated servers, and actually owning and managing your own server. Within these hosting types there are also various nuances. For instance, “shared hosting” can technically mean just two clients are using a server or it could be scores. A reputable web hosting company is transparent about how many clients are sharing each server and offers a variety of options. The vast majority of businesses go with shared hosting, but it’s not the best choice for all.
Not sure which type of hosting is for you? Consider the basic facts, pros, cons and potential of each. It’s likely that you’ll start with shared hosting (or even free shared hosting) and eventually transition from there. There are major price differences between each level, and your budget will largely dictate what you get.
Shared hosting is just what it sounds like: You and other clients share a server that’s managed by your web host. You should aim for the fewest amount of sharers as possible while staying within your budget. You’ve probably seen ads for free web hosting and while most are legitimate, they can come with a lot of down time and/or slow load times. The more hands in the pot (or in the server), the worst the end result will be.
That might not sound like a huge deal, but your customers are going to blame issues on you, not your web host. You need to know what the guaranteed maximum down time is, how many clients you might be sharing with, and be honest when assessing page load speed. If the web host can’t offer fast page loads, then it’s worth it to spring for a more expensive shared package.
If you have a managed dedicated server, just one server is “dedicated” just to you. You won’t be sharing it with anyone else, and you’re paying a premium for that. However, you don’t need to be a techie in order to have your own server. A managed dedicated server is the most common, and you’ll have a team of professionals taking care of the maintenance for you. Technically you may own the server but it’s kept in a center where the professionals have access to it.
Only major companies with at least 3,000 unique visitors per day will benefit from a dedicated server. If you’re not sure where you stand, a simple Google Analytics report will tell you. It can take a long time to reach this kind of traffic, and it may never happen. If and when it does, make sure your web host offers around the clock support.
Servers that are 100 percent yours
There are also unmanaged dedicated servers, which basically means you’re buying the server, applicable equipment and then set loose. You need to know a lot about hosting and technology in general for this approach. Only the biggest techies use it (such as Rackspace) and you need to be okay with having zero outside support. This is a risky move, but for some it’s the right fit.
No matter what type of server you choose, research is key. Don’t choose a web host based on price alone. Check reviews, check for transparency and trust your gut when making a decision.