Understanding Hosting Technology: What are the 3 Main Types of Hosting?

Photography By mohamed_hassan

Selecting a hosting provider and the hosting technology for a site can be really challenging and confusing, especially if you are not exactly a techie yourself. However, once you break each of the three main hosting environments down and take the necessary time to understand what they are, the choice will inevitably become a lot easier. Primarily, there are three types of hosting environments that a site can opt for. They are shared hosting, VPS Hosting, and Dedicated Hosting. As we take a closer look at each of these hosting environments, it should become clearer as to which one would be a better fit for your business.

Shared Hosting

A shared hosting environment is what most small websites use and it is not necessarily a bad choice when you are just starting out. Every site on a shared hosting environment will share the resources of a single server and depending on the particular situation, the number of sites sharing the server could be anything from hundreds to even thousands.

What makes shared hosting a viable option for smaller websites is that the costs are minimal. Just like the resources, the expenses are also being shared by hundreds, if not thousands of websites, therefore, the final cost for each site is the lowest that it can be. Additionally, server maintenance is also completely unnecessary in a shared hosting environment.

However, shared hosting is only suitable for very small business sites and non-profit websites like brochure sites and test sites. It’s the least secure hosting environment and has the highest downtime. When a site begins to experience heavy traffic, it will draw on the finite sources of the server, leaving the rest of the sites very little to work with. Frequent downtime, crashes, slowdowns, and even susceptibility to hacking attacks is more frequent for sites using a shared server.

VPS Hosting

A VPS server from a reputed hosting provider like HostGator delivers the perfect middle-ground for emerging businesses to build their sites in. Now, a VPS or virtual private server is still a shared hosting environment, but it’s more secure, reliable, and scalable than the traditional shared hosting environment ever can be. In a VPS hosting environment, a single physical server is digitally divided into several virtual servers and each one of those virtual machines cater to just one website. Since the resources of each virtual machine are independent of each other and cannot be hogged, VPS automatically provides a more stable and faster hosting environment to the website it is catering to, even during heavy traffic. Generally, such physical servers are only divided into a handful of virtual private servers (10 - 20), which ensures that the resources are never too thinly spread.

VPS solutions are, of course, more expensive than shared hosting services, but the cost is never too much to afford and, therefore, provides the perfect scalable solution for small to medium-sized businesses. Perhaps the only thing to keep in mind is that you will have to manage your VPS a bit, so it will help if you get to know the basics of that first.

Dedicated Hosting

This is what you need to choose if you have a website that is huge enough to warrant the extra cost necessary for dedicating a whole physical server to the requirements of your business. All big websites have dedicated hosting and the biggest sites in the world have multiple physical servers attending to them at all times.

As the site will now have the resources of an entire physical server attending to its needs, it will be able to handle huge amounts of traffic without slowing down, crashing or experiencing too much downtime. A dedicated hosting service is also more secure than all the other options we discussed so far.

The problem with choosing a dedicated hosting environment is that it requires intricate management and unless you really know what you are doing, that can be a problem. Managed and semi-managed dedicated hosting services take care of a lot, but you still will need to manage quite a bit on your own. However, if the consequent potential profits are worth the upgrade, a dedicated server, customized to your specific needs is definitely the most premium solution.

Now that you have a basic idea of what to expect from each type of hosting environment, making the right choice should be a lot easier. Scalability is also an important factor to consider because the needs of a website will grow with time. Ideally, your hosting provider should be able to upgrade you from shared hosting if and when you need it.