by Barry Zee
A Beginner’s Guide to Professional Web Hosting
Whether you own a business or have a great idea you want to put online, you’re going to need a safe and reliable place to put your website. If you’re like most individuals or businesses, you don’t have the cash lying around to build or operate a data center, which is typically a multimillion-dollar venture. There are, however, professional web hosting companies out there that can reliably host your website for you, and usually at a reasonable price.
Once you’ve decided to go with a professional web hosting service, there are a few things you need to know. When shopping for a host, you’ll notice a wide range of plan options with an even bigger range in price, from a few dollars a year to hundreds or more per month. When deciding on a plan, you need to determine three things. First, what is your budget? Second, how big and complex is your website? And third, how much traffic are you anticipating?
Before you answer those questions, let’s review the most common plan types professional web hosting companies typically offer. The most common and affordable plan type is called Shared Hosting. Like the name implies, resources on a server are shared with other websites. It is not uncommon for a single web server to host several hundred websites at a time. With so many websites and customers sharing the cost of the server, these plans can be extremely affordable. Another big benefit of shared plans is that you don’t need to worry about the management of the server. Because you’re sharing it with other customers, the responsibility of all maintenance and software management falls on the provider.
If your website requires an environment that is a bit more robust and resource-intensive, a shared plan may not be ideal. While shared hosting is affordable and typically a reliable option (which would depend somewhat on the quality of the hosting company), if your website is highly resource-intensive and receives a lot of traffic, you could begin impacting the performance of other sites on the server. In those extreme cases, you may not be allowed to remain on a shared hosting plan.
So if your requirements are demanding, the next two plan types might be more appropriate options. VPS, which is short for virtual private server, is essentially a cross between a shared plan and your own dedicated server. Like a shared plan, VPS plans share resources with other customers on the physical server hardware. There are major differences however. With VPS, there are fewer customers per server and you get operating system access to your virtual server. With operating system access, as far as you can tell as a user you have your very own server. This often means, however, that you’re also responsible for installing and configuring software and managing the server to a much larger extent compared to standard shared hosting. This option can also be significantly less expensive than a dedicated server, which is the next plan option you’ll want to know about.
A dedicated server is your own server. There are no other customers sharing resources like processors or memory or disk space with you. As such, this platform is ideal for resource-intensive websites and for websites that receive a large amount of traffic. Of course, because you’re not sharing the cost of the server with any other customers, dedicated plans are typically more expensive.
Now that you’re familiar with the common plan types, you’ll be better equipped to determine the best option for you. The key is to balance your need, your budget, and what you expect out of your site, including the amount of traffic. When in doubt be sure to check the website of your chosen professional web hosting provider or shoot them an email.
Sandy Winslow is a writer on many topics, including online business. It’s important to be knowledgeable about professional web hosting before you buy.
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