Compare 5 Types of Web Hosting and How to Choose the Best

We run into a lot of confusion among clients about web hosting: what it is, what it isn’t, and why good hosting is important for accomplishing goals. The following article provides a very basic overview of hosting types, goes over the 5 main types, pros and cons for each, and who is best served each type.

What is web hosting?

Web hosting is a service that provides you with server space to host your website. If we were to use housing as an analogy, your website would be an apartment and your server would be the apartment building as a whole. Essentially, a server is a specialized computer where your website files are installed. When a web user types in your url their browser connects with your server and requests the files for the web page they are visiting. The server then sends – or “serves” – these files back to the browser so that they can view and interact with the web page.

This is an oversimplification of web hosting, but it fits the purposes of this article. In reality, hosting is a highly complex part of marketing your organization on the internet. If not handled properly, your website won’t perform optimally, and may even become a liability. In the following section, we’ll cover the 5 primary types of hosting.

Shared hosting

Shared hosting is the most common type of hosting. It is exactly what it sounds like: you share a server with many other websites. We generally recommend staying away from shared hosting if your budget allows. Costs generally run around $2 – $15/month, depending on the features of the plan and the commitment term. If you’re looking for a shared hosting plan, we recommend these plans from Hostinger.

Pros and cons of shared hosting

  • PRO: The cheapest approach to hosting
  • PRO: Generally the most user friendly
  • PRO: You can get by without being tech literate
  • CON: Has performance and storage limitations and can be unreliable
  • CON: Offers no control over server configuration
  • CON: Can be detrimental to SEO efforts due to sharing IP address with disreputable sites

Shared hosting is a good option for you if…

  • …you don’t rely on a website for their internet presence.
  • …you need a low cost hosting option, and can sacrifice performance, stability, and flexibility.

VPS hosting

VPS (Virtual Private Server) hosting gives you a designated portion of a physical server. It differs from the typical shared host in that you have your own dedicated resources, control over the configuration, security, etc. Costs generally run around $15 – $100/month, depending on the features of the plan and the commitment term. If you’re looking for a VPS hosting plan, we recommend these plans from Hostinger.

Pros and cons of VPS hosting

  • PRO: Generally very configurable
  • PRO: Reasonably affordable
  • PRO: Generally very scalable
  • CON: More expensive than shared hosting
  • CON: Potential resource appropriation pitfalls
  • CON: Requires more technical knowledge than shared hosting

VPS hosting is a good option for you if…

  • …you are currently on a shared hosting plan and you’re running up against performance and bandwidth limitations.
  • …you need more server configuration control than shared hosting allows.

What is dedicated hosting

Dedicated hosting provides you with a server to store your website files. Unlike shared or VPS hosting, you solely possess the physical server. All resources of that server are allocated for your purposes. Costs generally run around $75 – $500+/month, depending on the features of the plan and the commitment term. If you’re looking for a dedicated hosting plan, we recommend these plans from HostGator.

Pros and cons of dedicated hosting

  • PRO: High amount of control over server
  • PRO: High reliability & flexibility
  • PRO: Great performance
  • CON: Most expensive approach
  • CON: Generally speaking, this is the most complex approach to hosting
  • CON: Greatest risk if you don’t know what you’re doing

Dedicated hosting is a good option for you if…

  • …you are a business that needs to handle large amounts of traffic & incoming/outgoing data
  • …are a midsize to large company with an IT team & you need high performance and maximum control over security

What is cloud hosting

If you’re looking for a hosting solution that provides more flexibility & reliability, cloud hosting is a great option. With this type of service, your website won’t be stored on just one server; instead, it will be distributed across a network of servers. Costs generally run around $8 – $240/month, depending on the features of the plan and the commitment term. If you’re looking for a cloud hosting plan, we recommend these plans from Hostinger.

Pros and cons of cloud hosting

  • PRO: Highly scalable
  • PRO: Extremely reliable
  • PRO: Reasonably affordable relative to the upgrade in performance
  • CON: Often doesn’t offer the amount of control that you have with VPS and dedicated hosting, though this isn’t always the case
  • CON: Generally more expensive than shared hosting, though there are some entry level plans that are comparably priced.

Cloud hosting is a good option for you if…

Cloud hosting is perfect for small businesses that are growing but don’t need the specific power and control of a dedicated server. It’s also a great option for companies with high traffic websites because it offers easy scalability, so if your site experiences a sudden spike in popularity, you won’t have to worry about downtime when you need more resources on demand.

What is managed hosting

Managed hosting is the most difficult of the 5 types in this article to define. At its core, it is quite simple to define: managed hosting is configured for niche use and managed by the hosting provider. That said, it can be provided in any of the forms mentioned above, though a shared server is most common. Because managed hosting comes in many different forms, it has a wide price range. Costs generally run around $3 – $230/month, depending on the features of the plan and the commitment term. If you’re looking for a managed WordPress hosting plan, we recommend these plans from Hostinger.

Pros and cons of managed hosting

  • PRO: Gives you the benefit of a more tailored solution. 
  • PRO: Generally reasonably secure because the provider takes care of all security updates, patches, etc.
  • PRO: Generally very user friendly
  • CON: Typically set up on a shared server
  • CON: More expensive than shared hosting, and often cloud & VPS hosting
  • CON: Little to no control over server configuration

Managed hosting is a good option for you if…

…you have niche needs for your project. For example, managed WordPress hosting is really common. WordPress has configurations under which it performs best, so if you’re running a WordPress site, you’d want to find managed hosting that is suited for WordPress.

…you want to build your own website, but you don’t want to worry about configuring your hosting environment.

Still not sure which type of web hosting you need?

The best hosting solution for you depends on your project needs. If you’d like to discuss your hosting needs with us, we’d love to schedule a time to chat (or we can even just text or email). We also offer custom managed hosting solutions via cloud server & dedicated server.

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