Knowing Which Type of Hosting You Need
The world of web hosting can be an intimidating place for novice web designers and small business owners looking to “go it alone” when building a new website. With so many options to choose from and so many companies affiliated with or promoting particular web hosts, how do you know which hosting package or even which web hosting product you need to get your new website off the ground?
Our guide to choosing the right web hosting will help you navigate the different types of web hosting, discuss what you should look for in a hosting provider and ultimately help you to make the right decision when it comes to hosting your website online.
If you have any specific questions about domain names or hosting your website, please feel to contact us and we’ll do our best to help.
Let’s look at some of the different types of web hosting and discuss the pros and cons of each!
Cloud, VPS, Co-Located and Dedicated Hosting
Choosing which type of hosting depends primarily on the size of your website (in terms of file size, usually measured in GB) and the amount of traffic you intend to serve via your web hosting server (typically described as bandwidth).
Smaller websites with low to medium traffic volumes that don’t include heavy traffic peaks and spikes in server requests are fully suited to shared hosting platforms, while larger e-commerce sites with huge product catalogues and highly visible promotional periods (think Black Friday sales!) will require dedicated and even scalable resources.
Read below for our brief descriptions outlining the different types of web hosting, together with some of the pros and cons of using each type.
Cloud Web Hosting
Cloud Web Hosting isn’t actually referring to servers that are based in the sky, but rather the term is used to describe a collection of servers across potentially multiple geographical locations – which are all accessed via the internet. Businesses are able to rent specific portion of the cloud hosting processing power needed to keep their company websites running smoothly.
Due to the highly scalable nature and robust fall-back techniques often in place, cloud servers are the ideal solution for almost any business, however they are particularly suitable to and popular with start-up businesses looking to establish an online presence without initial high costs.
Processing power and storage space can almost always be scaled up on cloud hosting platforms and most cloud hosting providers can guarantee 99.99% – 100% uptime because of the way these servers are configured.
Advantages of Cloud Web Hosting
- Providers often guarantee 100% uptime
- Fully scalable servers packed with features
- Very low start-up costs. Scalable with growth
Disadvantages of Cloud Web Hosting
Try for local cloud to avoid slow loading times
Internet connection required to manage server
Data storage and bandwidth limitations
Virtual Private Servers (VPS)
Virtual Private Servers (VPS) are servers which are configured and built for a specific end user. Essentially, the user rents a portion of a dedicated server – which helps keep down costs over truly dedicated hosting options – and other companies purchase the remaining server resources. The important distinction to make here is that users share the hardware (and it’s capabilities) and not the software installed on the VPS.
With a VPS, users get much greater flexibility and control over the software configurations running on their servers – e.g. Linux, Windows, Ubuntu etc. Any good web hosting company will allow bolt on extras such as additional storage, more processors and extra ram to be added to the hardware.
You will typically find that VPS clients share hardware with other VPS clients only, but this depends entirely on the infrastructure at your chosen web hosting company.
Advantages of Virtual Private Servers (VPS)
- Virtual Private Servers are incredibly flexible
- More ‘dedicated’ and configurable than cloud
- Great for clients with high security requirements
Disadvantages of Virtual Private Servers (VPS)
Web hosting support can be expensive for a VPS
Slight vulnerability from sharing hardware resources
Technical knowledge to install/config server software
Co-location hosting (sometimes referred to as Co-Lo) is similar to VPS and Dedicated Hosting, with one major exception – the server hardware itself (box) is owned by you and you send it to a data centre where you lease space on their racking – typically on monthly, yearly or custom arrangements. Essentially, you’re paying to utilise their datacentre facility; things like rack space and network end points are what you’re paying for – you own the hardware and typically configure your own software.
If dedicated hosting is akin to renting an apartment and VPS is like house-sharing, you could view Co-Located hosting a bit like visiting a campsite. You’re paying for the space and facilities, but you bring your own hardware!
Advantages of Co-Located Hosting
- You have full control over all critical features
- Many companies offer free rebooting
- Cost savings to be made in the long run
Disadvantages of Co-Located Hosting
Higher up front cost – buying the hardware
Technical knowledge to install/config server
Responsible for hardware failure and depreciation
Exactly what it says on the tin, dedicated hosting is for you and you only. No other companies will share any of the resources on a dedicated hosting platform. Here, you’re renting the physical hardware and the associated software running on it from the hosting company.
This is perfect for larger websites with greater traffic demands and it has a number of benefits over co-location web hosting, including much lower upfront costs, less technical knowledge required for setup and the responsibility of all hardware failures and depreciations lies with the host, not the owner of the server!
Advantages of Dedicated Hosting
- Covered in the event of hardware failure
- Hardware depreciation hit taken by host
- Great for large, traffic-heavy websites
Disadvantages of Dedicated Hosting
Costing more in the long run, but less up front
Safety and security responsibility with customer
Usability concerns for less tech-savvy users
Other Website Hosting Options
This is by no means an exhaustive list of hosting options. As the web becomes a more integral part in the way companies do business today, the capabilities of web hosting packages and options continues to diversify and expand at an exciting pace.
Companies like Amazon, Dell, Microsoft, Google and many more now all offer web hosting as part of their collection of digital products – and this increasing choice, both in terms of service providers and actual service types, can only be seen as a good thing for consumers.
With so many companies offering web hosting today, how do you know which one to choose?
Things to Look for in a Hosting Company
There are many considerations one should ponder when appointing a web hosting company. Here is a list of questions you should be asking yourself (or your potential web hosting partner) before entering into any contract or agreement.
General considerations about the company
- How long has the web hosting company been in business?
- Is web hosting something the company has only recently started offering
- Does the company simply re-sell the hosting services of another company
- Is the current ownership of the web hosting company the same as it always has been?
- Are your potential web hosting company profitable and cash-flow positive?
Technical considerations about the hosting company
- How often does the web hosting company stress test their setup?
- Does the web hosting company have redundant power to the servers in the event of power failure?
- Is the generator powering the data centres on site?
- What network security measures does the hosting company have in place?
- What physical security is in place and is there a suitable fire suppression system to protect data centres?
- How many lines does the hosting company have coming into the data centre?
- What’s the average utilisation of connections at the data centre? You need to know if the hosting company are running at or close to maximum capacity as this could slow down connections to your server considerably.
- How is the hosting company support network structured? Can you speak to a technical expert, or just a customer service/account representative?
Of course, these questions are just a guideline and are provided to be thought provoking while you’re considering options regarding a new hosting company.
Two other considerations which you should put high up your list of priorities when selecting a new web hosting provider are the flexibility of the host and what others are saying about them.
Web projects and requirements inevitably change from time to time and it’s important to find a web hosting partner who is prepared to grow with your business and not punish you (through unnecessary and unjustified charges) for needing to change the spec of your server or hosting package. Be sure to read up on cancellation policies and how your web hosting company would handle you needing to upgrade or downgrade your services before entering into any agreement.
One of the great things about the internet is the transparency afforded to customers researching potential suppliers. Don’t just read the reviews on your potential hosting company’s website – a quick google search of ‘[company name] reviews’ will yield many results for you to research before jumping into a web hosting arrangement with a company you’ve never done business with!
Let a Professional Handle Your Web Hosting!
Here at NECL, we build all our websites using WordPress and we resell cPanel hosting via a number of trusted UK hosting suppliers. The hosting we offer is suitable for small to medium websites which require a database as part of the configuration. This also means the hosting solutions we resell are suitable for small to medium e-commerce websites. We can utilise our hosting partners experience and infrastructure to offer more comprehensive solutions, however, including dedicated hosting, VPS and custom server configurations.
If you’re not technically minded when it comes to websites and servers, we’d highly recommend following the advice of your web design agency when it comes to the options you have regarding hosting your new website. If you’re building a website using a website builder (such as WIX or Squarespace) it is likely hosting is already included as part of your agreement with the service provider. If you’re having a bespoke website built, however, then you’ll need to research and choose a web hosting provider.
The advice given here should help to point you in the right direction and guide you to choosing a suitable web hosting provider.