Shared hosting is perhaps the most common type of web hosting service used by everyday web owners and developers. As the name suggests, shared hosting offers affordable web hosting services by hosting hundreds – even thousands – of websites on a single, shared server.
Shared hosting services can come in different forms. Some service plans offer unlimited disk space and monthly bandwidth, while others may have limited resources that customers can use. Both types have their own advantages and disadvantages.
Shared hosting is suitable for all kinds of websites. Personal blogs, static websites and even a corporate site or an online store can be hosted using a shared hosting plan without problems. Most shared hosting plans are also capable of handling large amounts of traffic as long as you stay within the allocated monthly bandwidth quota.
Although shared hosting plans are very appealing and affordable, they do come with limitations. The server is used by multiple accounts, so the performance of your site may be affected by other websites operating on it. If another site is experiencing a spike in traffic, for example, your site can also be affected.
VPS hosting bridges the gap between shared hosting and dedicated servers. You get a set of server resources virtually allocated to your account, but the server is still shared between multiple VPS accounts. A huge advantage offered by Virtual Private Servers is the compartmentalisation of server resources; VPS accounts will not be affecting each other, even when they are hosted on the same server.
VPS hosting is slightly more expensive than shared hosting, but you get a substantial boost in site performance in return. You can also host more websites on a single account without having to worry about running out of bandwidth or the sites becoming slow under heavy traffic.
Another added bonus offered by VPS hosting is root access. If you are an experienced server administrator and you want to have complete control over your server, root access is a huge plus. You will have the ability to run custom scripts, add extra features and even use your own brand of control panel.
You can choose between managed and unmanaged VPS hosting. The latter puts the task of managing the VPS server entirely in your hands. Managed VPS hosting, on the other hand, is suitable for those with less experience in managing a web hosting server. The web hosting company will do all the hard work of maintaining your server while you focus on developing and running your websites.
Dedicated servers are the crème de la crème of web hosting. You have an entire server to yourself and you are free to do anything about it. This type of hosting is indeed expensive and may not be suitable for everyone, but it is an option that will fulfil the needs of even the most resource-intensive websites and web applications.
Today’s best web hosting companies even allow you to set up your own server configuration. You can set the number of cores – and processors – you want, the amount of RAM and disk space you want the server to have as well as other details about the server.
You can also choose between operating systems and install your own software on the server. Similar to VPS hosting, there are now managed dedicated servers for those who want to worry less about managing the server and more about growing their websites. A team of experienced server administrators will set up and maintain the server; you use the dedicated server by accessing a visual control panel, similar to the one used by shared and VPS hosting.
The only real disadvantage of using a dedicated server is its service cost. Expect to pay more than £50 a month for a truly capable server.