Web hosting is a term that you’ve almost certainly heard, but which you may not totally understand. Perhaps you’re aware that it’s something to do with looking after your website, but you’re not sure about all the different types of hosting that are available. This article will answer all of your questions, and help you to make the right choices if you’re about to leap into the world of running your own websites.
First of all, we need to be clear what web hosting actually means. As the name suggests, it’s simply a way of hosting your website on the internet. You buy or lease server space from a web host company, who host the technical code that makes up your web page on their computers. If your website is a circus act, the web host is the circus tent, and like circus tents, web hosts come in all shapes and sizes.
Different types of web hosting
Free Shared Hosting
There are companies who will allow you to host your website for free. If you’re just experimenting with websites, or if you just have a few personal projects that you want to get online for fun, this might be a good choice. Be aware, however, that free shared hosting tends to be very basic, and tends to look quite cheap and nasty, with pop-ups and banner ads and so on.
Paid Shared Hosting
The next step up, of course, is to pay for your shared hosting. Shared hosting simply means that your website sits on a server alongside hundreds, if not thousands, of other websites. This is the option that you’re most likely to come across. It’s within most individual’s price range, and is designed to be easy to access and use.
Dedicated Hosting/Dedicated Servers
Dedicated hosting means that you’re paying for exclusive use of your own server. That means greater security, speed, bandwidth and traffic capacity for your website, but it also means greater expense. It tends to be the option favored by larger businesses. Co-location is a type of dedicated hosting, which means that a server is built and designed for your specific needs. As you might expect, this is a very expensive option indeed, and only used by large corporations, government concerns, academic institutions and so on.
Virtual Dedicated Servers/Virtual Private Servers
This type of web hosting involves dividing up space on one actual server into several virtual servers. For all intents and purposes, you’re buying your own dedicated server, it just happens to physically exist on the same computer as several other users. You get all the benefits of a dedicated server, but for a fraction of the cost.
The type of web hosting you go for will ultimately depend on the type of website you want to create. Personal or small business users will want to go for shared hosting, larger businesses will need to look at the dedicated server options.