Once a website has been designed and is ready to be shown to the world, it will need somewhere to live on the internet so that it can be displayed publicly. This is known as web hosting.
There are a number of choices to consider when it comes to hosting. This is usually dictated by the amount of traffic a website receives, and the overall level of control required.
The most exclusive type of hosting is a dedicated server that is owned and maintained by the website’s company itself. Any large organization with an established customer base entering the online world will most likely require a dedicated server to handle the amount of traffic it receives. The decision then becomes whether to run a server internally, or to use the servers of a third party.
Running a server internally will require an IT team with full root access to the server, who are responsible for all security and daily maintenance of the site; along with a location to store the physical server. This gives full control over the server but increases costs significantly.
Managed hosting is a form of dedicated hosting, but without offering root access to the server itself, which is managed by the host’s own IT team. Using the services of a third party is considerably cheaper, and gives you the assurance of a professional IT team to maintain and secure the server, while giving website owners full access to the site. While this does mean relying on another organization that is subject to its own business and technical issues, most companies do offer a guaranteed up-time of 99%.
Virtual Private Servers (VPS)
A VPS offers the power of a dedicated server but at a much reduced cost. The data is secure, and the website’s performance is not as severely affected by fluctuations in traffic of other sites hosted on the same server, as can happen with shared hosting. VPS’s are far easier to run than dedicated servers as each has a dedicated operating system, and does not require any technical expertise. VPS’s are generally viewed as a mid-point between dedicated hosting, and shared hosting.
The cheapest option is to go with shared hosting. This is where a multitude of websites from all around the world are stored on the same server. The biggest issue with this type of hosting is that it takes on any issues affecting the other websites sharing the hosting. If other sites experience a sudden burst in activity, or are subjected to a hacker’s DDOS (Direct Denial of Service) then all the sites will be affected, which usually means a slower website speed, restricted access, or in certain cases, the website going offline. The benefit is that it is by far the cheapest option for hosting. Many new websites will start with this kind of hosting before transferring to a VPS or Dedicated server when their online business proves successful. This is a good option for basic websites where performance is not much of an issue.
Cloud Based Servers
The latest entry into the web hosting world are Cloud Based Servers. Rather than have all of a website’s information stored on a single server, Cloud servers are split across numerous sites, where the information is loaded from multiple sources at once resulting in a very fast site, which is unaffected if one or more of its supporting services experiences any maintenance issues.
Deciding on the best web hosting for a company’s online presence comes down to a number of factors, which primarily revolve around price, the amount of traffic to the website, and the level of hands-on control required. It is important to note that as a site gains in popularity it can be transferred to a more powerful type of hosting.