What Are You Getting From Your Web Hosting Provider?

Web hosting

What are you really getting when you hire a web hosting provider?

If you’ve ever tried a Google search for hosting, you would have found that you get inundated with results. Some sound cheap, some sound expensive and some you may not understand exactly what it is that they’re selling.

There are different types of web hosting and this can reflect in the price and what is included. It’s important to know what you’re looking at – which type of hosting will be the best fit for your needs?

Here is a breakdown of types of hosting and what they commonly include:

Free download: Get our checklist for finding a website host here

Types of web hosting

Website hosting can take many forms depending on your level of expertise, or the level of need that your website has. “Hosting” is simply the task of making a website available for visitors to use. This is done by storing the files of the associated website on a server.

Big companies with complex needs might use many of their own exclusive servers – think of a bank, for example. Small companies or hobby websites might pay for space on a “shared server”, where a hosting company manages it.

Shared hosting

Shared hosting is at the very basic end of website hosting options. It’s usually one of the cheapest (sometimes even free) and is widely available. It works by having many websites rent space on the same server – sometimes there may be into the thousands of small websites on a server.

This type of hosting tends to be best for entry-level websites, such as blogs or small hobby sites. The positives for using this type of hosting is that the technical side is taken care of and that the cost is reduced considerably. Many websites on one server means that the cost to run that server is shared among the customers.

There are some major limitations that go with shared hosting, meaning that this is not a great option for many businesses. For example, shared resources equate to sharing the RAM (Random Access Memory) and CPU (Central Processing Unit) of the server. If some users of the server experience a sudden surge in traffic, this can lead to major delays in processing speed for everyone, or sometimes even websites going offline. Picture a major sale event, such as Cyber Monday; clearly, an ecommerce store should steer clear of this type of hosting!

There’s a term known as the “bad neighbor effect” to describe hiccups with hosting your website as a result of what others on the same server are doing. Most hosts work to mitigate this, but if you’re only paying $5 per month, they’re probably not working that hard on it…

Some shared hosting can leave you vulnerable to the “bad neighbor effect” Click To Tweet

Another thing to be aware of is that not all shared hosting providers meet the same standards. Some might cram as many websites as possible onto one server, leading to frequent issues. Some might use older technology which can also lead to technical difficulties. This is a good reason to look much further than price when it is time to choose a hosting option – what exactly are you getting? The old saying “you get what you pay for” tends to be true for hosting.

Here are some tips for what to look for with shared hosting:

  • How many visitors per month are you allowed?
  • How much storage do you get? This is file storage for your website – the bigger and more involved the website, the more GB of storage you need.
  • How much bandwidth do you get? This is a reflection of the amount of data that can transfer between your site, website users and the internet. An average blog uses only around 10 GB per month, but you also need to factor in a buffer for any traffic surges.
  • Is the host suitable for your type of website? For example, if you are running a WordPress website, we offer WordPress packages at Hostirian. This means that we have the specific technology that runs WordPress smoothly.
  • What support options are offered by the host? If you are self-managing your website, you might need help sometimes and it’s important to know that it will be available when you need it.

VPS hosting

VPS stands for “Virtual Private Server.” This can be described as the next level up in shared hosting. It will cost you a bit more than the basic level, but you avoid some of the problems associated with shared hosting.

A VPS is a good step in-between shared hosting and getting your own dedicated server. While websites still share the hardware of the server, a VPS houses multiple separate virtual machines, which dedicate slices of computing technology. This means that you are much less at risk from the “bad neighbor” effect. If a website reaches its limit of allocated resources, the site might be throttled or go down, without impacting others on the server.

This makes VPS a good option for those who have the budget to pay the hosting charges and who get a decent amount of website traffic. If you get a lot of traffic and require a lot of storage space, VPS may not have enough for you.

The VPS environment also allows you to make changes to customize your environment. This isn’t possible on a shared server because all sites share the same environment. You also get the opportunity to scale if needed, simply by requesting an increase in the resources made available to you.

Tips for choosing VPS hosting are the same as our shared hosting tips, with a couple of additions:

  • Is management of the VPS fully-managed or self-managed? For example, most developers will opt to self-manage because this offers them greater flexibility. If self-managing is out of the question for you, make sure there is a fully-managed option.
  • Do you get root access? This allows you to implement things like scripts, automation and command controls.
Download our checklist for finding a website host here

Dedicated server

This is just as it sounds – a dedicated server (or servers) all to yourself. These are for businesses or organizations that require a lot of space, and who prefer to do the management of the server themselves (although there is managed dedicated server hosting as well for those who cannot take on the management aspect).

Key advantages include that you get a lot of space and computing power to yourself. There are no bad neighbor issues (you have no neighbors) and no security issues potentially introduced by other websites.

You also get the most flexibility with this option. You can customize many aspects, including the operating system and other hardware elements.

The cons of dedicated servers include that they are more expensive than shared or VPS. Your company needs to have the knowledge and resources to manage the server – you might need to hire server admin at an additional cost. Some will find it a con that they are entirely responsible for the server. If there are any failures, you have to make decisions about monitoring and making other arrangements, whereas with other types of hosting, other modules can take over in case of failure.

We have dedicated server options to suit every type of business – check them out here.

Besides space, data speed and management of the server, here are some other things to check out:

  • The server technology. For example, does it use the latest fast NVMe SSD?
  • Security. What are the security protocols and how secure is the data center?
  • What tier is the server rated at? Tier 4 is the best, providing the least amount of downtime per year (99.99% uptime).
  • How is your data backed-up? Servers should not go live without a backup, as there is a danger of losing data.

Final thoughts

The three types of hosting outlined are some of the most common and are all options that you can discuss with us. We also have Colocation as an option, which is where you rent the rack space in our data center, but bring in your own server hardware. This option is for those with the technical know-how to run their own hardware.

The type of hosting most suited to you very much depends on your budget and what you need performance-wise from your website. Some options also require you to have or have access to the technical knowledge to operate them.

There are pros and cons to each type of hosting, so it’s important to truly know what you are buying before you take the plunge. Feel free to contact us with any questions!