Different Types of Web Hosting

Here is the thing, in today’s Internet-centric economy you need some form of web hosting to sell your products, your ideas, your thoughts and your company to your prospective audience. Whereas the main economic driving force of the early 1900’s was Main Street, the main economic and democratic engine of the 21st century is the Internet. Like the 1900’s, in today’s world, you need a store to move your products – you need a website. However unlike the stores of old which were powered by brick and mortar foundations, your online store – your website – is powered by a web hosting firm providing varying forms of web hosting – shared, reseller, VPS and dedicated hosting.

The question now becomes, as a business looking to operate a thriving ecommerce website, what type of web hosting is best for you? Don’t fret, don’t panic, our web hosting solutions guide will help you out.

Shared Web Hosting

For the vast majority of consumers in need of web hosting solutions, shared web hosting will be the first option. Shared web hosting, as its name implies, is shared web hosting i.e. the solution allows for a single server owned by a hosting firm to provide services and resource allocations for multiple users. In short, think of shared web hosting as a pie and your website as a slice of that pie. You have your own borders (separation from other slices/shared hosting accounts) and you have shared filling (delicious apples/resource allocations like RAM, Bandwidth, Memory and CPU Cores) – essentially your shared hosting account is a single slice of the overall pie. The main distinguishing features of a shared hosting account are:

  • Ground level file system and process compartments
  • Shared hosting accounts utilize the same groupings of resources for the entire pie – thus shared hosting. To ensure all shared hosting accounts are allotted the amount of resources they need, hosting companies deploy monitoring software. It should be noted, large providers like HostGator and GoDaddy are well known to over sell the capacity of a server causing the individual account to feel pain (slow down, fail under increased load etc.)
  • Regardless of the amount of resources you purchase (RAM: 8GB, Disk Space: 40GB, Bandwidth: 4TB for example) your resources will 99.9% of the time operate on the same hardware as other accounts – again, shared hosting.
  • With shared web hosting, the operating system the consumer has to work in is determined by the hosting company. The same goes for the installed solutions.
  • Security is a large concern. With every user operating on the same set of resources and the same OS (operating system), security is a major concern for shared hosting accounts.

With all this said, the main reason consumers use shared web hosting is due to pricing. Shared web hosting, above VPS or dedicated web hosting, is cheap. Real cheap. While the price might seem nice, just remember, you get what you pay for.

VPS (Virtual Private Server) Web Hosting

VPS (Virtual Private Server) web hosting is, in a way, like shared web hosting (you still are a slice of the pie) however it also has significant advantages over shared web hosting. By its very nature, VPS hosting is a virtualized form of web hosting (providers use Xen, Open VZ, KVM, VMWare etc. to virtualize) which allows the provider to supply the consumer with almost endless scalability. The distinguishing features of a VPS are:

  • Virtualization. VPS web hosting is virtual web hosting. As noted above, different providers will virtualization with different virtualization technologies.
  • VPS’s are stocked with disk space, RAM, bandwidth and CPU cores, however RAM and disk space operate independently of CPU cores and bandwidth. This limits the ability of other users to affect your VPS.
  • Scalability. The main benefit of VPS web hosting is scalability. You need more resources? Your provider provisions them and you pay for those resources. The same works when you need less resources. VPS scalability allows you to only pay for what you use – to pay for what you need.
  • Depending in the provider, hosts offer a wide variety of OS’s. You love Ubuntu? Sure thing. You love Windows Server 2012? That works also.
  • VPS’s have greater security than shared hosting accounts. With more defined borders, greater software and firewall capabilities and independent file systems, VPS’s allow for greater security.

With all this said, VPS web hosting is a bit more expensive than shared web hosting. Whereas you might be able to purchase a shared web hosting account for as little as $9 per month with a company like DreamHost, a VPS account with DreamHost will cost you $15 per month. Again, you get what you pay for.

Dedicated Web Hosting

For the consumer in need of their own server, their own resources, their own hardware and their own nodes, dedicated web hosting is the choice. Although an older and more expensive solution than VPS web hosting, dedicated web hosting is for the consumer in need of heavy resource allotment, hardened security measures and who does not mind spending a bit more money. The distinguishing features of dedicated web hosting are:

  • Unlike a shared or VPS web hosting account, a dedicated server is fully under the control of the consumer. The consumer can fully customize it, install whatever software he or she wants, shut it down/reboot it whenever etc.
  • Dedicated web hosting clients have their own hardware. Unlike shared or VPS web hosting which share hardware, dedicated web hosting clients have their own hardware, nodes etc.
  • Dedicated web hosting has its own resources. Whereas VPS hosting is scalable, dedicated web hosting makes consumers buy an allotment of resources which the user, regardless if they are using the full potential, pays for at all times. It’s guaranteed resource allocation.
  • Security. You have your own hardware, can install your own software and have your own resources. As you might imagine, dedicated web hosting by its singular nature, is more secure than shared or VPS web hosting.

It has to be said, dedicated web hosting is expensive, much more expensive than shared hosting and VPS web hosting. Due to its construct of dedicated resources, dedicated web hosting is the most expensive web hosting solution. Read this article to learn more.

Reseller Hosting

We saved reseller hosting for last because it requires the shortest amount of space to explain. Reseller hosting, as the name implies, allows the consumer to use the allotted resources he/she purchases from their provider to host other shared, VPS or dedicated web hosting clients. Being a reseller means you purchase a large allotment of resources and use them to host other web hosting clients. The same points of designation hold true regardless of shared, VPS or dedicated reseller hosting.

With all that said and explained, you need to know how you figure out which web hosting solution is right for your business. For that, check out our second article on this topic, “Which Web Hosting Solutions Is Right For Me?”