Choosing the Right Type of Server To Host Your Website
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There’s several choices when it comes to choosing a type of server to host your website. You’ll need to do a bit of research to find out what your needs are and how to best meet them.
How to find a host for your website series – #2
Not only is there many different web hosts competing for your business, many of those hosts will offer different types of hosting packages and server types.
Not All Web Hosting is Created Equally
Just like there’s different types of websites with different resource needs, there’s also different types of hosting. Many web hosts will have many different types and levels of hosting available.
The most common type of hosting is referred to as “shared”. This means that many websites are all hosted on the same server, sharing the server’s resources. Shared hosting can be great if your website doesn’t have a lot of traffic and is pretty basic. If your website uses a lot of resources (RAM, CPU, etc), then even if you try to use a host’s shared service, you will either be politely asked to upgrade or have your site shut down.
Shared hosting can typically be easier to set up for a novice, since it’s usually geared towards first timers. For best results though, do not set up your big resource hungry website on shared hosting because you’ll likely be moving it to more appropriate hosting in a short time.
Dedicated Server Hosting
If you have a big site that needs a lot of resources to operate, you might need a dedicated server. This means that you have a whole server to yourself, with no other websites created by other people running on that server.
You will need to choose a server that has all of the resources that you will need to run your site, including momentary spikes in CPU and RAM usage. The benefit is that you have access to all of the resources that the dedicated server has. One of the biggest disadvantages of using a dedicated server is that you’re going to have to pay for all of those resources whether you’re using them or not.
A dedicated server gives you the most control over the server hosting your website. This is also the most expensive method of hosting a website, so jumping straight to dedicated hosting when you don’t need it isn’t recommended.
Virtual Private Server Hosting
Commonly referred to as VPS hosting, this type of hosting sits somewhere between shared and having a dedicated server. Your website will be on a server with other websites, but each site will a portion of the overall resources dedicated to it. You will have full access to all of the resources of your VPS hosting, but you don’t have to foot the bill for an entire server.
Cloud Server Hosting
Cloud hosting is relatively new and a fantastic buzzword that has even permeated the lives of regular every day people. Even though there’s a pretty straight forward definition for cloud hosting, sometimes the implementation isn’t what you expect. You should always ensure that whatever host you choose for your cloud hosting is delivering what you think you’re getting.
Cloud hosting utilizes an array of computers, spreading the load and allows for more flexibility to the services that can be offered. Instead of websites using shared resources on a single server, or dedicated resources on a single or portion of a single server, the available resources are made available from an array of servers, then made available to your website.
There’s other server types that you’ll stumble across, but those are the four main types. Unless you have some weird special needs for your website(s), you’ll usually end up with one of the above types.
What Server Type Should You Choose?
Unlike restaurants where you don’t get to choose your server (see photo above), you are in charge when it comes to choosing how you want to host your website. The short answer for which you should choose is “the cheapest you can get away with”. If money wasn’t a factor in life, then all websites would be hosted on a dedicated server with the specs maxed out. Not only is that not feasible but it’s also wasteful.
On the flip side, you should not under-buy and put every site on low performance shared hosting. You need to do some research and find out what your needs are and what you can get away with. If the performance of your site suffering just to save money, then you’re doing it wrong.
After you’ve done some research to see what your needs are, find similar websites and determined what they’re using. In your market research, you’ve probably compiled a list of similar websites. See what they’re doing, how they do it, and use that as a starting point.
Hosting is Forever
Hosting is not forever, why would someone write such a misleading heading? If you choose a host and it’s not working out for any reason, you can move. You can just pick up and move your entire website to another host or a different type of hosting provided by the same host. Many website hosts will have free software to make the move for you. If you’re moving to a different hosting/server type provided by the same host, they should offer to move your site for you.
I’ve had a website running for about 20 years and I’ve moved it roughly every two years on average. Sometimes it was because the website grew past what could be done on the current hosting, or sometimes the host and/or support degraded. No matter what the reason, the point is that you can move, you can do it yourself, and it’s not really that big of a deal.
I’m Locked In For Three Years!
No you’re not. You can move any time. Don’t make a bad decision worse by staying with bad hosting. Ask the host if they’ll give you a pro-rated refund, it can’t hurt. Even if you can’t get a refund, if you have to move, then you have to move.
Please stop falling for the three year deals.
Where to Start
- Do your due diligence
- Ask your pals
- Ask in a group
- Determine what you need
- Find a host that you think will do the job.
Jump in with a bit of knowledge and you’re going to be fine. Don’t get into any super long hosting contracts that could bite you in the butt down the road. Move your site if/when you need to.