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This is the English version of the article drafted by the Cityhost hosting provider experts.
Web hosting provides many business opportunities. For example, it enables you to:
- Present your products and services using business card websites
- Trade around the world through online stores
- Organize business processes with the help of special programs
- Manage the work of remote employees through virtual offices
- And much more
Business owners have the option to either rent out a small portion of a server or an entire machine for their work. Considering that each user has their own tasks and plans, and all projects require differing amounts of resources, web hosting providers offer a whole scope of hosting services.
In this article, we’ll figure out what website hosting is and how to choose a web host most suitable for their business purposes.
What is web hosting?
Web hosting is a service that provides server capacities for hosting digital data. Most often, hosting is used to publish websites on the Internet, but there may be other purposes: installing highly specialized programs, storing large amounts of data, or automating enterprise management.
The main feature of website hosting is an uninterrupted Internet connection, thanks to which, remote access to materials and functions is possible at any time.
Under current conditions, web hosting is indispensable to any entrepreneur. Thus, it is extremely important to understand how to pick a web host service that perfectly fits your case.
Types of web hosting
There are different web hosting types available on the market, depending on how they are implemented. They differ in terms of power, disk space, and cost.
Virtual (shared) hosting
Virtual hosting is a web hosting environment that allows placing many client accounts on a single server. In other words, each user receives a small piece of disk space where one or more websites can be loaded.
So, what does it mean to host a website through shared hosting? In this case, each provider sets the rules of use and creates a set of options for the client, depending on the hosting plan. For example, when using the basic plan, you can usually place only one website on a server. To store several or an unlimited number of websites, you will need to take into account more extended plans (but there may be a limit on the number of files).
Shared hosting is the easiest and most affordable way of hosting a website, which is why it runs the bulk of web resources.
Pros of virtual hosting
- Low price that allows you to launch a startup
- Easy to operate as even beginners can use the control panel
- All technical issues and problems are solved by the provider
- Set of necessary tools that allows you to automate every process to the fullest extent
Cons of virtual hosting
- Small amount of disk space and limited processing power. Shared web hosting can be enough for a small website, but even an extended hosting plan won’t be able to cover the needs of a resource-intensive project.
- The inability to install your own software, if necessary. The provider offers a ready-made standard set of functions that can be extended with several additional tools, but nothing more.
- Low level of information protection. The server is shared by many clients (it can be hundreds of accounts with a variety of websites). There’s no way to expect a high level of information security with so many “neighbors.”
- The computing power of shared hosting is divided between clients using special software that helps keep each website within the resources allocated to it. But once a website faces a sharp increase in traffic, it leads to an increase in the load on the entire server. As a result, it can slow down the sites operated by other clients. Providers try to address this problem by sending an email to the account owner informing them about exceeding the allowable load and proposing to switch to an extended plan. If the client does not take any action within the specified time, their website may be temporarily blocked.
Virtual server (VPS/VDS)
The abbreviations VPS/VDS are used interchangeably and mean essentially the same thing: a virtual dedicated/private server. It is a part of a physical server separated by virtualization. In fact, a virtual server simulates the operation of an entire machine, while occupying only a part of it. One physical machine hosts several virtual ones (there can be up to a hundred of them, depending on the capacity of the root server).
Why is this being done? For some customers, the power of regular hosting is not enough, but renting an entire physical server is too expensive. As of VDS, it plays the role of an intermediate and is popular due to its advanced features and affordable cost.
Clients can use the machine not only for hosting, but also for mail services, video surveillance, file hosting, accounting programs, CRM, and so on.
Pros of a virtual server
- It is a powerful machine that has a lot of disk space and is capable of serving resource-intensive projects at a budget price.
- The flexibility of management. The client can independently administer the server, install their own software, and use flexible settings.
- High level of autonomy and separation from other clients hosted on a physical server. Each VPS uses only the resources allocated to it and does not affect its “neighbors.” This also has a positive effect on data security.
Cons of a virtual server
- Difficulty in administration. The server is more difficult to manage than web hosting, so users will have to learn the basics of virtual server management. You can assign this task to a hired specialist or order a paid service from a provider.
- Freedom in management is high, but not absolute. There are different ways to virtualize, but they can impose limitations.
This is the most powerful and expensive hosting option, which is represented by a separate machine. It is fully leased by a single client. Of course, users do not take the server to their office—the equipment remains in the data center, where it is provided with all the necessary conditions for work and uninterrupted access to the Internet. In turn, the client can administer the server from anywhere, as management and access to files are implemented remotely.
This type of web hosting is distinguished by the greatest freedom in management and the opportunity to host any project. A dedicated server can be used for various purposes, including creating a development environment, deploying virtual offices, storing large amounts of data, dividing into virtual servers, and using each server for a separate task.
Pros of a dedicated server
- Huge storage and lots of resources. A physical server can handle almost any project.
- High level of data security. The server is used by a single client, and no one else can access the information.
- The opportunity to install unique programs and enjoy complete freedom in management.
Cons of a dedicated server
- High price. This is the most expensive type of web hosting among those mentioned above.
- A dedicated server is the most difficult to manage, so you will most likely need to ask a professional administrator for help.
Web hosting selection criteria
Web hosting services can differ on a number of parameters. By becoming acquainted with them, you will be able to determine which option suits you the best.
Performance and processing power
- RAM. The amount of virtual hosting’s random access memory (RAM) allocated to 1 PHP process (PHP memory_limit) ranges from 256 to 1536 MB. The average amount of RAM for a virtual server varies between 2 and 16 GB. For a dedicated server, this metric can reach 128 GB.
- CPU (central processing unit). There is no such indicator for shared hosting, as the provider allocates a certain percentage of the entire server capacity to each client (for example, it can be 3% or 5%). For a virtual server, the standard processor frequency is 3200 MHz, and you can choose the number of cores from two to eight. A physical server provides more options for choosing a manufacturer and frequency (which is already measured in gigahertz). In this instance, the average number of cores is also from two to eight.
Possibility of individual settings and installation of your own software
- Virtual hosting. The client is provided with a standard toolset that includes a file manager, antivirus, CMS auto-installers, a website builder, and caching services. On top of that, virtual web hosting provides the opportunity to make backups, create mailboxes, and enjoy a variety of other options.
Usually, these tools are quite enough to administer regular websites. But when it comes to non-standard software or individual settings, it is better to take the following options into account.
- Virtual server. VDS differs from other options not only in the disk space but also in management freedom. With this solution, you have the opportunity to install your software and choose an operating system.
Despite the greater freedom of action, VPS still has its limitations. For instance, some virtualization methods imply that the client’s OS matches the system of the physical server itself, which is why clients do not have much choice in this case.
- A dedicated (physical) server offers the greatest freedom in managing and implementing individual settings. This option should be chosen for work with specific or unique software, if this is required for your project. In addition, it is good for large and resource-intensive programs, such as video editing.
The disk space offered by virtual hosting companies typically ranges from 5 to 50 GB, depending on the selected hosting plan. For a virtual server, these indicators can vary between 35 and over 400 GB. As for a physical server, you can install disks offering a storage space from 250 GB to 4 TB on average. But, in fact, you can install disks of any space if they are commercially available.
Web hosting prices
Shared hosting is the cheapest way to host a website. It can be obtained for $18-150 per year.
The annual cost of a virtual server ranges between $70 and $370, although the exact price depends on the disk space and computing power.
The price of a physical server is calculated for each machine individually since they are collected individually for each client. The price can start from $400 per year and reach several thousand dollars.
Opportunity to administer web hosting
The virtual hosting control panel is very simple and convenient to use. If some features are difficult to manage, you can always use instructions describing how to operate the hosting account. Shared hosting, at the same time, is configured and administered by the provider itself, and the client can only use the proposed set of built-in tools. Therefore, this type of hosting is suitable for novice webmasters, or entrepreneurs, who do not want to administer websites on their own.
To manage a virtual server, you need to have more knowledge and experience. In terms of basic settings, the server is administered with the help of text commands. But thanks to the opportunity to install a control panel, this process is greatly simplified. Even amateurs can administer their server on their own if appropriate paid panels are installed. However, they still have to spend time figuring out how it works.
If the owner does not have the time or desire to get acquainted with the hosting process, they can always contact a professional administrator or order a service from the provider itself.
Freedom in managing a physical server also has a downside, as it is the most difficult hosting in terms of setting it up. This type of web hosting is represented as simple hardware where you need to install all the necessary components, including OS, control panel, web server, or other programs, depending on the tasks. To administer it properly, you need to have an appropriate specialist in charge. You can also delegate this task to other third parties for an additional fee.
How to choose a web hosting service for small and medium business tasks
So, let’s figure out what type of web hosting you need to choose for a particular project, depending on the scale of the business.
Representatives of small businesses most often use business card websites and landing pages in their work, as well as create small online stores. Shared hosting is well suited for these purposes.
The list of medium business tools usually includes corporate websites, online stores, CRM, 1C, virtual offices, business automation tools, or specific software. To use them effectively, it is better to rent a virtual or dedicated server. These web hosting options not only offer more resources but also guarantee better data security than regular hosting or a working computer.
If you’ve decided to rent a VPS, make sure to clarify all details regarding the operating system related to it. Is there an opportunity to install any operating system? By getting the answer to this question, you can understand if you’ll be able to install the necessary software. For example, Linux is most often installed on servers, but some programs, such as 1C, work only on Windows.
When choosing a certain hosting provider, it is also important to consider how many resources your project will require. You always need to have a small margin, because, with proper development, the website begins to grow rapidly. But at the same time, don’t use an excessively big web hosting provider. Otherwise, you will have to overpay for features that you don’t actually use.
Providers usually give customers the opportunity to test out their web hosting services and servers for a short period. If you are not sure about the best solution for your business, test one of the options. In a few days, it will become clear whether or not it suits your needs.