When you have a website, the files and images that makeup your website are stored on a computer somewhere. The details and specs of that computer are your website hosting plan. Web servers are computers designed specifically for serving up websites. Because of this, many of the same rules that apply toyour home computer apply to web servers as well. This is a simplification as there are some big differences, but it will do for our discussion here.
When it comes to website hosting, there are basically three types: Shared, VPS and Dedicated.
Shared Hosting Account
The hosting company sets up one, big web server and puts several, sometimes hundreds, of accounts on the same machine. Privileges and permissions keep you from seeing the other accounts. The benefit of Shared Hosting is the cost, it’s cheap. For many people, the low price is irresistible. As is often the case, you get what you pay for. The downside is you have little to no control over what software or software settings on the server. The server has to suit the needs of everyone, not just you. The other big downside is the shared resources. The disk space, computer memory, bandwidth, etc are all shared by everyone on the server.
The hosting companies do their best to prevent problems, but not everything is preventable or foreseeable. If one of the accounts on the server is mentioned in the media, they could get a lot of traffic very quickly. Some sites become victims of DNS attacks. These types of things can slow down and sometimes cripple the entire server and all the accounts on it. If one of the accounts on the server gets hacked into, that can compromise all of the accounts on the server. These sorts of things don’t happen often, but they are a risk to consider with Shared hosting plans.
Cheap ($2-15 per month)
Lowest security profile
Limited resources (slow website)
VPS (Virtual Private Server) Hosting Account
Your account is installed on it’s own partition with your own operating system. Partitions are a more secure way to separate accounts than permissions as used on shared accounts. With a VPS hosting account, there are typically 4-12 accounts on the same machine. It’s almost like you have your own server which means you can control the software and settings.
You do not share the same disk space, memory or bandwidth. If another account gets hacked into, the hacker cannot access your account because it is on a different partition. You get most of the benefits of a dedicated server without the high price tag.
Good value ($30-60)
Much better security
Guaranteed resource levels
Limits to server/software customizations
No server level control
Dedicated Hosting Account
A dedicated hosting account is like it sounds. You have your own web server all to yourself. It can be as big and powerful as you need it to be. It can have enough disk space for your website, maintaining several backups, client files and even as a remote backup for your office data.
If cost was no object, this is what everyone would use. It is the best option, hands down.
No limits to customization
Complete server level control
Ability to use for additional needs beyond just hosting
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