The most important decision you’ll ever make regarding your website could very well be the one you will never think about. I am of course referring to your choice of web hosting.
In a world where hosting is considered a commodity, we often see hosting providers offering services starting as low as $1 per month. While this offer may seem too good to be true, I can assure you it’s real.
Before we go any further let’s define some of the basic hosting options available and what type of websites they are best suited for.
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Free web hosting can be a good choice when you just want to build a non-critical website for fun. Very often in a free hosting environment, connection speed is slow, website can be down frequently, and advertising banners is automatically added to your website. Some companies require you to purchase your domain name to receive free hosting services from them, while others offer you a free subdomain under them, such as [yourname.webhost.com]. Be careful as you will not be able to transfer these free subdomains.
Shared Hosting AKA Virtual Hosting
In a shared hosting environment, your website shares one server with other websites. This includes sharing the physical server and the software applications within the server. Shared hosting services are affordable because the cost to operate the server is shared between you and these other owners. There are, however, a number of down sides, such as being slower, slower bandwidth and possible outages due to issues with another owners website. Probably the biggest downside is the inability to control the software environment. For example, local backup applications require specific tools and setting in order to function correctly, if yours does not work, it’s unlikely the hosting provider will accommodate any platform changes.
Virtual Private Server – Editors Choice!
A virtual server is built using a platform like VMware and has all the advantages of Dedicated Hosting and Collocated Hosting but usually comes at a much reduced cost because several virtual servers can run in one physical piece of hardware. Another benefit of virtual servers is that adding resources like memory and CPU is a simple software config and unlike Collocated Hosting, you’ll not be required to maintain the platform.
In a dedicated hosting environment, you have the entire web server to yourself. This allows for faster performance, as you have all the server’s resources entirely, without sharing with other website owners. However, this also means that you will be responsible for the cost of server operation entirely. This is a good choice for websites that requires a lot of system resources, or need a higher level of security.
In this type of hosting, you will purchase your own server and have it housed at a web host’s facilities. You will be responsible for the server itself. An advantage of this type of hosting service is you have full control of the web server. You can install any scripts or applications you need.
Free is good but you get what you pay. Choosing the wrong platform will cost you a lot of trouble in the long run. A good all-round choice is Virtual Server Hosting because you get almost all the benefits of Dedicated hosting without the high cost. Be prepared to pay for quality hosting, your customers will thank you for it.