Starting a Website – Types of Hosting

Last Updated on Sun Jun 20, 2021 by JR Rioux

If you are going to put up a website, you need to know where to get one and what type of webhosting you will need. This should help provide you with enough information so that you can make the best decision for what you need.

Web Hosting Types

If you have never created a website, you may not understand all the terms. What’s offered, what’s included – for a beginner, it’s hard to decide what you are going to need. So, here are some explanations.

Managed/Shared Hosting

This is the most common type of hosting for your website. There are 2 basic types. The first is a simple account with basic features on a specific piece of software (WordPress, Jooma!, Drupal, etc.). These do not always offer things like email accounts, support for external SSL’s, they still generally offer the ability to use a domain you might be given or purchased for an additional fee. Some come secure, which is helpful, but unless you are offering a membership area, you likely don’t need that.

Domain emails are handy and make you look more official, but they don’t always work on an email program like outlook. This means you may have to check your mail on your hosting account. Not all of the above mentioned type of managed hosting offer email, however, the next type of managed hosting always comes with the ability to have email with your domain.

The other type of managed hosting is usually called Shared Hosting or a variation of it. It offers a wider variety of features, such as email, installing your own SSL, multiple types of web creation tools, what is called 1-click installs. You can use the default site builder, or you can install whichever type of software you need for the type of site you want to build. You’ll have access to a more extensive set of tools that some might find a bit intimidating or confusing. For the most basic user, I tend to recommend something more simplistic like the first type of managed hosting. There are upgrades you can get when your site gets busier, so there is plenty of room to grow, in both size and your traffic.

Is it worth it?

There’s a reason why this is the most common type of hosting. Almost everyone starts here. That’s because it’s so flexible, and you could do anything from the most basic drag-n-drop, to a complicated series of software combined to create an extensive site, or even simply code it yourself (It works, dammit!😁), if you really need ultimate control. ✋🏽

Prices can vary wildly, so shop around. Offering free things like a domain name to go with is good, depending on the overall price. You can find hosts that only offer websites using something like WordPress, Joomla!, Drupal or others, with their servers hosting 1000’s of sites on some servers. They can be great because their machines are designed to run this and only this software. That helps prevent errors, though if a lot of sites get too busy unexpectedly, an update doesn’t work right, or server system updates take some resources up, your site might get slowed down.

Places like GoDaddy and NameCheap offer you a full backend with access to all sorts of fun things, some of which you should never touch if you don’t know what it is. You can make email accounts, perhaps work on more than one site, try different web software, and so on. There’s a fit for pretty well everyone’s needs – unless you’ve got some really busy or resource heavy. Then you have to upgrade…

Sites like Wix, Weebly, and Squarespace are managed hosting accounts, but they often only offer their own style of easy-to-use software. These also are very secure and require no special knowledge to use. For the technically challenged, they are one of the best ways to go.

VPS (Virtual Private Server)

What is it? Think of a school lunch tray. Remember the divided sections? A VPS is like that, but on a webserver. You get a ‘space’ dedicated to you. It may or may not have it’s own DNS (Dedicated Name Server), and you’ll get more bandwidth. This is great if you have sites with high traffic or a lot of big, resource heavy files. It is much more expensive, and is not practical for the average budget, it tends to be necessary for a medium sized business or a semi-popular site. While you have access to more resources, unless you’re getting more than 5000 hits a day or numerous heavy files/database being frequently accessed, you probably won’t need it.

Is it worth it?

It depends. Depending on the price between a VPS and a designated server, I tend to lean toward dedicated. But, VPS are less expensive and it essentially works like a dedicated server. If you get to the point you need it, then you have to decide what is going to be most cost-effective. You should compare plans on different hosts to find the best solution, but if you’re already well-established with a host, most will be happy to help you figure out what will best meet your needs.

Dedicated Hosting / Dedicated Server

This is essentially you running your very own server, thought it’s usually a hard drive on a server or a partitioned section of a hard drive. This is the do-it-yourself version of hosting. You basically can do anything your heart desires. But, you also get what you pay for and this option is always a pretty hefty sum, especially if you aren’t making money off your site or getting a LOT of traffic. If you have to go this route, you’ll either need to be technologically inclined, or pay for someone to manage it for you. Many places also offer a ‘managed’ version, where they handle all the updates and tweaks for you. I won’t lie to you, though, it’s not cheap.

Is it worth it?

Not unless you need it, to be honest. It’s VERY expensive if it isn’t going to be paying out in a relatively short period of time. Don’t start with, no matter how big you think your site will be, since you can upgrade your account and have it shifted in a matter of hours or less.

Reseller Hosting

This is basically like VPS or a dedicated server, except this is set up to allow you to set up users with their own account with access to all of the same tools you get in a shared account. It makes it easy to set you up with your own hosting business, which you can charge whatever you choose for various sized accounts that people will be able to purchase and may be able to automatically create for you, depending on the software and accessible services the main hosting company decides on.

Is it worth it?

If you know people that need hosting and you want to help them or if you know people who would buy hosting off of you, it’s a great idea. The issue you will run into is that it’s a tough market out there, and hosting companies are a dime a dozen. So, you’d have to make yours appeal in some way to draw in customers. It can take a while, to be honest, having done it when there weren’t nearly as many options, to start making a profit. But, if you need the features, then the best to you. I, myself, have considered doing it again, but the expense just cannot be justified at this point. Then again, I don’t know if I’d want to deal with all the hassle.

Operating Systems

Linux: This is the standard OS used for webhosting. It is easier to secure, requires fewer resources, and is by far the most used type of servers. Why? Open source is often free and with millions of people picking over the coding, you have a broader group of people to find issues and fix them. You can build almost anything you could dream of on a linux server.

Windows: Unless you know what you are doing and are willing to pay much more, this option is not recommended. Windows servers are more expensive to manage, more prone to security issues, and offer no advantages (IMHO) unless you are or have a developer building something specific.

I hope this little guide gives you a bit of an easier time to figure out what type of hosting is the best place to start for you, and understand the differences between all the options. Just remember – start at the lowest price, then work your way up as the need presents itself.

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