Hosting, hosting, hosting. If you own a site or blog or are planning on starting either, you have probably heard hosting pretty often. In simple terms, your site cannot exist without it being hosted.
So now that you know that, you probably want to know what it is, what your options are, and which hosting plan works best for you. Below I have broken down the information in human terms so you are able to make an educated and confident decision on which hosting plan may be best for you and your business.
What is Hosting?
There are three main players in this explanation; your website/blog, the server and the hosting provider.
Your website is made of multiple coding languages that the browser translates into images, text, buttons, etc (all the things that make your website visually appealing to viewers). Now all these codings that make your website look awesome and work smoothly are allocated into files but these files need a home base.
The server is basically a computer that holds all these files for your website aka home base and also allows you to perform operations on those exact files (such as editing, deleting, adding, etc.)
The Hosting Provider
Your hosting provider basically “owns” a server. You, as the hostee, rent space off the server to hold your website.
Now that we got that covered – I will explain more in-depth below to how this all works and help you make a better decision on what hosting works best for you!
What different types of hosting are offered?
There are plenty of different types of hosting packages available out there but the three MOST common are Shared Hosting, VPS Hosting, and Dedicated Hosting.
To be able to better explain this, we are going to use the analogy of homes!
Shared Hosting – “My Neighbours are My Friends” AKA The Apartments
Want to save money? This is the way to go, but be warned, you get what you pay for – I’ll tell you why.
Shared hosting is a hosting environment in which you have MANY neighbours. In a shared hosting environment what happens is that there is a large amount of users on a single server and I’m not talking hundreds, I’m talking more in the thousand range. Think of it as an apartment building – you have a bunch of neighbours that all live in the same building and use the same resources. Now keep in mind that for every one user there is an average 1-3 sites per user (that means roughly 3000 websites on one server). Like normal apartment buildings, there may be restrictions on what colour to paint your walls or whether your allowed pets or music past a certain time of night. This occurs with shared hosting also; the flexibility on what you want to do is restricted. If you want to make certain changes to your site than you may have to contact your hosting provider and check to see if that is available to you.
Now, this is where a shared hosting environment can get a bit frustrating. Each website on that one server shares the same resources. If something as simple as one site has higher traffic then the rest it could use a large portion of the server’s memory which leaves all the other sites with whatever remaining percentage of memory is left over. This could effect your site more then you would expect – such as your website going down or loading slower for your viewers.
Back to our apartment example; you share one large hot water tank with all your neighbours in the apartment. The neighbour upstairs has the LONGEST showers and uses 80% of the hot water – leaving the remaining 20% to be shared between everyone else. Talk about cold and uncomfortable. See where I’m going with this?
I’m not saying Shared Hosting is the worst and that you should never consider it. Shared Hosting is an awesome option for those who want to use a small website to share between family members, create a personal diary or a small blog. That way, when the site goes down you probably wouldn’t be too worried about it and you get to save a little bit of money. But this is definitely not recommend if your hoping to increase your web traffic and/or are building your business and want to have the longest hot showers without bothering your neighbours (see what I did there?).
VPS Hosting – “WE NEED MORE POWER SCOTTY!” aka The Townhomes
Virtual Private Server – when flexibility meets budget meets power.
VPS is basically a hybrid of shared hosting and dedicated hosting (introducing the “virtual townhome”).
Remember the long shower and no hot water problem in Shared Hosting? Well with VPS, instead of one hot water tank shared between thousand of users – now it’s one large hot water tank that’s split between 10-20 neighbours maximum and when one neighbour uses all their hot water it only effects them and none of their neighbours. Nice right? Hot showers for everyone!! (Am I taking this too far?) But you get the jist.
Another beauty part about VPS is that it is configurable – highly configurable in comparison to Shared Hosting. This means you can modify your environment (make changes) without affecting your neighbours.
Now VPS isn’t as cheap as Shared Hosting – the lowest price is sitting at normally $20/month, the average price sitting at $50/month and if you really want to ramp up it up (meaning more RAM and bandwidth) you can go ahead and purchase VPS packages up to $100-$150/month.
VPS hosting is normally suggested to those smaller to mid-sized businesses who receive high traffic (and want to build more traffic), want more control over their virtual environment, and want all the good things that Dedicated Hosting offers except cut out all the fancy extra toys that you don’t need and cut the price tag down by a lot! Who loves a good deal? We do!
For more information about VPS check out this Web Hosting Guide.
This is also the type of managed hosting that Okanagan Creative Designs offer, click on the link to read more about our hosting services.
Dedicated Hosting – “Creme De La Creme” aka House
You have now reached the private island section of hosting. Say hello to a server that has only one occupant!
Dedicated Hosting offers quite a few pros aside from having no neighbours to share with. This also works really well for owners who have specialized software, or have plus 100k visits per month (yay reduced downtime!) and/or when the owner simply requires complete control over their data privacy.
“With great power, comes great responsibility” – Uncle Ben (Spider-Man Series)
But with all good things, you have to be aware of the small writing. For example, Dedicated Hosting requires a bit more knowledge of the server side of things and computers. If you plan on spending more time on your server then it wouldn’t be considered a bad thing but for those smaller to medium size businesses that want to focus on what they do best (which is offering their specific service to their customers) then this wouldn’t be the best way for them to utilize their time.
In saying that, this bring us to another difficulty about Dedicated Hosting that effects both experienced and non-experienced alike – when a crash occurs (which they do) fixing the problem and returning it to its previously running condition is more difficult. In most cases, it may seem more beneficial to hire a dedicated server administrator who can manage the server for you.
With Dedicated Hosting the last point to consider is budget. Dedicated Hosting does not come cheap but makes perfect sense since you have no neighbours and you now maintain a high degree of security for your site. The average price for Dedicated Hosting sits somewhere between $100 (for bare minimum) to $200/month. Be aware though that a high-quality VPS package can be better then a low-quality Dedicated Hosting, just be sure to read the services thoroughly so you know what your getting.
Which Hosting Package Works Best For You?
SO – what works for you?
What you have to think about is your traffic and your current and future business goals.
- Are you planning to expand, build, and increase your traffic?
- Do you want to stay small – appeal to some close friends and family and maybe some other customers?
- Have you decided you want to create the 10th largest company in Canada and need hosting that can sustain traffic of 50-100k/month?
Basically it all depends on your goals.
If you want to keep it small, don’t mind your website going down from time to time and want to save a bit of money and enjoy having your hosting managed then Shared Hosting seems like a great fit for you!
If your a small to medium sized business, you receive reasonable traffic and have plans to maintain or grow your traffic, have your hosting managed, and can afford to buy yourself better quality hosting (no lock-outs or websites going down inexplicably) then VPS is your solution!
Finally if your hitting the big leagues, and you have the budget to spend either educating yourself on the server side of things or on hiring a dedicated server administrator, and you need that extra flexibility and security then the Dedicated Hosting may be your way to go.
All in all – hosting varies and it’s up to you what best suits your needs. Think about your goals, both in the near and not-so-near future and make sure that your hosting plan offers you some flexibility that match those goals.
Choosing a plan isn’t necessarily easy but by breaking down the different hosting plans and understanding what each offers will definitely help you. I hope this blog will give you a better idea as to which hosting may be best for you and your business. Be sure to check out Okanagan Creative Designs hosting plans as we are local to the Okanagan Valley and available to answer any of your questions!