Whether you’re just starting to create your first website or you’ve been managing your site for a long time, one of the most crucial decisions you’ll make is deciding where to host your website. There are a lot of hosting providers out there, and today I’m going to help you walk through some of the pros and cons of the various types of hosting available.
First, let’s look at the different types of hosting—for the most part there are four different levels of hosting. As expected, their features and price increase as you step up in tiers:
Shared hosting is your most common, basic hosting. The biggest benefit of this type is price. Shared hosting is incredibly cheap, so if you’re starting out, this can usually be a decent place to start if you’re not sure how much traffic you will have. One of the reasons it’s so cheap is that typically hosting providers do not put the most cutting-edge hardware and software into these platforms, which result in slower performance and page load times. Depending on the complexity of your website this could be considered a con and have a big impact on your website.
Another con of shared hosting is that, by nature, you’re ‘sharing’ the web server that your website is hosted on with literally hundreds of other websites. Shared hosting usually has very limited resources (processing power, memory, etc). If any number of these sites suddenly see a spike in visitor traffic, requiring more server resources, it can consume more of those server resources and have the potential to cause outages, server timeouts and other issues for all the other websites trying to compete for those same resources.
Tech support quality can vary, and is definitely something you should research to make sure you’re comfortable with the methods used for providing tech support—phone, email, trouble tickets or chat—as well as the geographic location of their support. You can typically find solid reviews from existing or past customers online that share their experiences with a particular hosting provider.
VPS Hosting is a great step up from shared hosting—VPS stands for Virtual Private Server, and is just that—the hosting provider sets up multiple VPS environments on one server, each with their own dedicated server resources: processing power, memory, etc. ONLY your website(s) that are hosted on the VPS have access to these server resources. Because the VPS environments are isolated from each other, if one has a failure, it will not affect your VPS environment. It’s like having your own dedicated server, without the high cost of an actual dedicated server.
Hardware and software features are more cutting edge in a VPS environment as well, all providing a faster, more secure website service. Things like SSD drives, up-to-date support for coding languages and enhanced server features which all help create a more enjoyable user experience.
Dedicated servers are a top-tier hosting service. Much like a VPS, you have your own dedicated server resources, but instead of having multiple VPS environments on one server, you own the server, and only your applications run on it. Since only your applications are on the server, you have the ability to customize it to best suit your needs. If you have a very complex website or experience a lot of visitor traffic to your site, this could be an option for you.
In recent years, cloud hosting has become a well-received hybrid option for website and application owners. The flexibility of Cloud hosting (such as Google Cloud, Amazon AWS and Azure), allows you to scale your server resources up or down as needed, so you’re only paying for services/resources that you need. Compare this to a dedicated server where you invest in a full hosting solution from the start, and have capabilities that you may not fully utilize until you grow and scale up.
Insight recently spent a great deal of time researching hosting providers to find the best-in-class option for ourselves and our clients. If you simply search for “best hosting providers 2018” you will find dozens of articles telling you who’s the best—BUT—I personally don’t put a lot of weight in articles like this. I found the best place to go for REAL reviews is reddit.com. Due to Reddit’s strict policies and user base, they sniff out salesy posts and down-vote them quickly. What you’re left with are real experiences for just about every host provider out there.
In our research we narrowed it down to two hosting providers that we found to be very close to equal in performance, services, features and customer support. If you’re interested in knowing who they are, just ask, we can help answer any questions you have about your website project. After migrating client sites to our new provider, we have seen page load times cut in half—some even by a third—when compared to our old provider.
One last tidbit I will share … In an effort to guide you toward a quality host provider, I recommend you research “EIG hosting companies,” and learn a little bit about who those companies are, and why you should avoid them. To get you started, here’s a great article on researchasahobby.com. Part of the reason I don’t rely on the ‘best of’ articles above, is because these same companies are listed in just about all of those articles.
I hope this helps you in your hosting decisions. If you find yourself in need of migrating to a better hosting provider, give us a call. We’ve helped many clients improve their hosting service and ultimately their website’s user experience.