Janet A Johnson's Business and Lifestyle Blog

4 Major Web Hosting Types Explained

Posted: October 9, 2018

Every site that is online is stored on a web host and disseminated via the internet. Knowing the major web hosting types available is important. Furthermore, choosing the right type of hosting for your needs will depend on a number of factors.  This includes affordability, website traffic, and privacy concerns.  Hosting providers typically offer tiered level web hosting plans that are suitable for a wide range of website needs. With all the choices available, it is, therefore, important that you understand the options and fundamental differences of these 4 web hosting types.

What is Web Hosting?

Before we delve further into the actual web hosting types understanding what it is, is vital. In simplistic terms, your web host provides a point of access and storage for your website.  Basically, it operates just like your computer.

When you use your computer you are able to store files and run applications. This is achieved with specialized hardware and software. The primary types of hardware are the hard drive and processor (CPU). Together these physical components provide the main functionality that enables your computer to work. Your hard drive and CPU are then directed by the operating system. A CPU is a complex piece of software that allows a user to perform various functions on his or her computer.

Your web host uses its own version of a computer. This is called a server. This server can be constructed in a number of ways but will provide, in all instances, the primary function of housing and distributing your website’s content. Like your computer, the server is also composed of a main storage unit and CPU. It also runs on an operating system (OS). The OS, more often than not, a Linux based system. Additionally, your web hosting may be modified to include important features like SSL, back-ups and malware scanning.

A web host is owned by a service provider who will offer various plans at different rates. There are 4 major web hosting types: shared hosting, cloud hosting, virtual private server, and dedicated web server. Each type may be worth considering depending on factors like website traffic, privacy and speed concerns.  All these different web hosting types should be carefully considered when planning your website launch.

Web Hosting Types

Shared Hosting

Shared hosting is considered the most affordable web hosting types. It involves the use of one large main server that is shared by multiple website owners. A shared hosting model is sometimes packaged with a free domain name and reduced rates for the first year of use. Additionally, the server is maintained by the service provider. It also comes pre-installed with an OS and an easy to use interface.

This type of hosting may not be ideal for a website that will have a high volume of traffic. Also, it will not be the best choice if you require a high level of security. Typically, a shared hosting model spreads the resources of a single server over hundreds of websites. This means that if a high traffic site exists on a shared server, the server will experience outages across all websites, not just the site that has expended the server’s resources. Additionally, website speeds will be slower.  There may be privacy concerns if the server is breached or hacked. While these issues may be a deal breaker for some website owners, shared hosting continues to be a viable option for many because of its affordability.

Cloud Hosting

Cloud hosting makes use of several interconnected computer servers to form a large reliable, secure server called the cloud. Read What Exactly is the Cloud. This cutting edge technology allows website owners the opportunity to purchase the exact amount of server space and CPU they need. This means that each owner is effectively compartmentalized into his or her own segment of the cloud. Therefore, they will not experience downtimes because of high traffic to other websites within the cloud.

The security that cloud hosting provides is one of its greatest selling points. As mentioned previously, the resources on the cloud are not provided by a single server. As a result, it is more secure because the information is not placed at one centralized point. Instead, it is distributed and configured in such a way that it is exceedingly difficult for the cloud to be compromised. Additionally, cloud hosting gives website owners the option to make some configurations to their server. However, these modifications should not be done without having prior knowledge of the requisite technology.

Some cloud hosting providers may offer plans that include additional features like SSL, site scans and automatic back-ups. The pricing for cloud hosting will vary and may be more affordable than shared hosting. This depends on space requirements, CPU and other additional features.

Cloud hosting has already become the go-to technology for many website owners. Amazon and Google are among the industry leaders who have long taken advantage of cloud-based architecture in delivering their respective services. This technology is ideal for both large and small websites that require reliable uptimes, better performance, scalability, and greater security.

Virtual Private Server (VPS)

A VPS makes use of a large single server that is split into many individual parts or virtual servers. Each virtual server is then sold by hard drive space and CPU.  This allows website owners to choose the amount of resources they need to run their website. Like shared hosting, a single server is shared among many, however, unlike shared hosting and more like cloud hosting the resources are effectively separated for each website owner. This type of hosting addresses the issue of possible downtime based on traffic from other websites. However, it is not as secure as a cloud hosting model.

A VPS is also configurable and allows each website owner the flexibility to make modifications based on their website’s needs. Typically a VPS will be more costly than a cloud hosting or shared hosting model.

Dedicated Web Server

A dedicated web server gives a website owner full control of an entire server. This type of web hosting allows the owner more freedom to fully configure and manage their server as they would like. This will, of course, require a high level of technical expertise. Some dedicated server providers may give the owner the option to install their preferred OS and complete the entire configuration of their server or they may offer a managed server model. The latter option will be more costly; however, it may be ideal for owners who do not wish to handle the more technical side of server management.

A dedicated server is typically used by website owners who prefer to have more control over their data privacy. However, the server itself would need to be adequately secured and properly configured. It is also ideal for website owners who expect a high volume of traffic. Dedicated servers tend to be more costly than all other hosting types.  This calls for more technical expertise to initially set up and maintain.

What Now?

How does one decide which of these 4 web hosting types is best? Choosing the right hosting plan for your website may come down to pricing, traffic concerns, security, and flexibility. If you are uncertain if you will have the support of a full time IT specialist or developer it is best to start off with a managed solution. Always consider whether or not your hosting provider offers easily upgradable packages and consider purchasing an SSL certificate to ensure your website securely processes your user’s information.


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Janet A Johnson

Hi, I am Janet A Johnson a Management Consultant and Life Coach with over 15 years strategic program/project management and business management experience. I am the owner of StrategyNook LLC, a consultancy agency specializing in strategic project management, business management, web development, branding, internet/social media marketing, life coaching and stress management. Schedule your free consultation today and let's talk strategy and customized solutions.

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