Your website plays a pivotal role in your business. Whether it’s an e-commerce store or a company website that features your products and services, a website serves as the gateway to the digital world. This is where you interact with your potential clients, consumers, and partners. Done properly, your website can help expand your business and generate profit exponentially.
Creating a standout webpage or e-commerce site requires careful planning and implementation of various aspects. Considerations such as design, content, platforms, themes, plugins, coding, and integration are just a few of the matters that you have to think about. Another important factor that should not be overlooked is your choice of a web hosting provider and hosting service type.
Ultimately, your choice of web hosting provider, as well as the appropriate hosting solution or package will determine your site’s connectivity, security, bandwidth, and speed. This is why you must evaluate your options carefully.
Web Hosting Service vs. Web Hosting Provider
A lot of references on the internet use these terms loosely and interchangeably. However, it is important to get the definitions right to avoid confusion. Understanding the concepts will help guide you in your selection process.
Simply put, a web hosting service allows a website to have a “place” or presence in the online world. Without it, your business is virtually non-existent and inaccessible online. There are several types of hosting services, which include shared, dedicated, virtual private server (VPS), reseller, and cloud.
On the other hand, web hosting providers refer to the companies that offer server space and internet connectivity to clients and subscribers who wish to publish their webpages online but do not have their own web servers. They are also called “web hosts.” Some of the most popular web hosting companies include HostGator, BlueHost, SiteGround, and InMotion Hosting.
These companies often provide several of the mentioned hosting service types. These are also known as “hosting packages” or “hosting solutions.”
Types of Web Hosting Packages
There are hundreds of web hosts to choose from and each of these companies offers a variety of hosting packages or plans. It is important to select the right service for your website’s needs. Here are some of the most common web hosting packages:
Shared or Basic Web Hosting
Under this service type, several websites are placed on the same server. In this scenario, websites share the server resources such as RAM and CPU. Hosting companies often have a posted set rules that to make sure that each website gets a reasonable share or allocation of resources. Web hosts will impose limits on disk space allotment and web traffic volume.
This package only offers basic features. For instance, it doesn’t provide regular updates and has limited software support. It is lacking in flexibility and it can only support simple websites with smaller needs. It is an entry-level service and is best recommended for blogs or e-stores that don’t expect or require large volumes of traffic.
Shared hosting is the cheapest and most economical option among the hosting packages.
This is the opposite of the shared type. Under this service, the user is entitled to full usage of a “dedicated server” as he doesn’t share any of the resources with other websites. This also entitles the user to full administrative and root access to the server which means he is accountable for the server’s security and maintenance.
This service has more features than the shared type and it can accommodate the needs of medium to large businesses whose websites receive a large number of visitors. It is also best for complex websites that run business applications or develop customized software.
Dedicated hosting is the most powerful service but is not recommended for everyone as using it requires a lot of technical knowledge. It is also the most expensive package.
Virtual Private Server (VPS) Hosting
VPS is an interesting fusion of the first two service types. Like shared hosting, a website is also placed on a common server. However, the common server is split into multiple “virtual private servers” so that a fewer number of websites share a particular space, as compared to shared hosting. Each private server operates independently. There is no interference among the virtual servers.
While it allows control over certain aspects such as over operating system installations, it does not give the user complete administrative and root access.
VPS allows more flexibility in terms of software installations, email, and stream media. This is an excellent choice for more advanced users who want to develop their own websites or need to install specific software applications. It is also a good choice for businesses or publishing websites who have outgrown the features of shared hosting.
In terms of costs, VPS can be said to be mid-range. It is less expensive than dedicated hosting but more costly than the shared service type.
Under managed hosting, the user does not own the server but only leases it from the company. While a user is allocated his own server, he is not allowed full access and control. Unlike in shared and VPS hosting, he is not given any root or administrator access. The server restrictions are imposed to avoid configuration problems.
In this hosting service, the web host manages the software, settings, updates and maintenance for the client.
This is recommended for users whose websites require the features of dedicated hosting service but who are not equipped with the technical skills to manage the server themselves.
This is the newest type of hosting platform that has gained popularity in recent years, particularly among users who run cloud computing services.
Cloud hosting is unique in the sense that it combines several servers on one hosting platform that is called a “grid.” What this means for your website is that you’re not limited to a certain resource allotment. As your needs expand — such as when you run more complex applications or generate more traffic — the service simply draws more power from the grid to meet your requirements.
This technique is called ‘needs scaling.” It means you don’t have to worry about upgrading your package, installing new hardware, or buying more server space because the service automatically adjusts the scales according to your consumption needs.
The strongest feature of cloud hosting is its cost flexibility. Rather than paying for fixed monthly fees, users pay only for the resources actually consumed in a given month.
Another key characteristic is reliability. A website hosted by cloud service isn’t likely to go down even when there are power interruptions or natural disasters because the service is decentralized.
This service is for those who have multiple websites or who want to resell their hosting services for profit. It allows users to manage several websites under one web host manager (WHM) control panel. Resources such as disk space and bandwidth are allocated or restricted on the control panel.
In effect, a reseller account lets clients be web hosts themselves.
These are the common service solutions offered by most web hosting providers. There are other types of services such as free web hosting, colocation hosting, and clustered web hosting.
Basic Tips for Choosing A Web Hosting Service
In choosing the right web hosting service or package, it is necessary to consider a number of factors. The type of service has to be appropriate for you website’s needs. Getting the right match is critical for your website’s overall performance and search engine rankings.
Here are some basic tips for choosing the right hosting package for your website:
1. Understand your needs
The first step is to understand what your website needs. If it’s a simple blog or a novice online store that doesn’t require specific software or complex business applications, you may opt for a shared hosting service. Not only is this a cheaper option, but it has the basic features that are sufficient to support your website. Should your site expand and later require integration of more intricate systems, you could always upgrade your account to VPS or dedicated hosting.
On the other hand, if you need to run business applications, specific software or complicated databases on your site, then you are best off with other service types such as dedicated hosting or VPS. A shared server will definitely be insufficient to meet these requirements.
Relevant to the first point, you should choose a host or a service type that is flexible enough to allow upgrading to another account. For instance, your website may initially be on a shared server but over time, your traffic volume may exceed the limitations imposed by the web host. In such case, you will have to either buy more server space or upgrade to a VPS account. To cover probabilities like these, it is important to choose a service type that can be upgraded at a later time.
Level of Technical Expertise
Different service types require different levels of technical know-how. A powerful solution such as dedicated hosting grants full administration access and control over the server to the user. This means the user must have the technical skills required to manage, maintain and control the server. If you don’t have this expertise but want to choose a dedicated service, you can opt to hire a programmer or IT expert to handle it for you.
You may also choose a managed hosting service to get some of the features of a dedicated service with less of the responsibilities. Under managed hosting, the provider does the management and maintenance for you.
If you are totally new to website administration, then consider shared service. This is the best option for newbies as it easy to maintain and doesn’t require technical expertise.
Server Reliability and Uptime
Your website’s availability on the internet depends on the stability of your web host’s network connections. This means the system itself must be online 24/7. While no web host can guarantee a 100% uptime score, it must at least have a 99% rating. In choosing your hosting package, make sure to check for the uptime it guarantees.
Select a plan that integrates the costs of the standard features you need for your site. Avoid cheap packages that provide options for “add-ons” at additional costs. This can be more expensive for you in the long run. Although a full-service package may come at a higher rate, it may also the one-stop solution that’s right for you.
You also need to choose a service package that includes technical support services. You need to have the assurance that there’s someone to call when your site goes down or when you need advice on technical matters that you can’t handle on your own. Make sure to check that the package offers several options for customer support – phone, email, chat, forums or FAQs.
This is an important consideration. With hackers getting more ingenious, you need a safety net just in case your site is attacked. You can’t restore your website and its information unless it was adequately and recently backed up. Select a service package that includes regular backup as one of its features.
In choosing a hosting service package, there is no one-size-fits-all approach. It really depends on your needs, technical know-how, and budget. You have to understand your requirements and visualize a direction for your site. As this is an important decision that will affect your blog’s presence or your business’ accessibility, you have to do your homework and consider the relevant factors to make the choice that’s suited for you.