What is a web hosting service? How can I choose the right web hosting services?
If you’re asking these questions, you’ve come to the right place.
I wrote this article to help explain the ins and outs of web hosting services. I’ll also discuss the various types of web hosting and which one is best for your business.
Table of Contents
What Is a Hosting Service?
A hosting service allocates web server space for clients. When you avail of web hosting services, you rent space and power from the host’s web servers.
Web hosting also has a more technical definition.
Web hosting service providers offer hosting services, including storing, managing, and hosting websites, databases, apps, or systems.
Web hosts sell access to web server resources and services to assist your website operations.
Choosing the right web hosting company depends on your needs.
Some web hosting companies offer general packages. Other hosting providers let you choose the services your business needs.
Some providers offer free web hosting, but permanent free web hosting is often limited.
Some free hosting providers are strict on domain registration, while others limit you to specific domain name extensions.
Features of General Web Hosting Services
Here are six things to look for in hosting providers.
- Servers and hardware – Hosting companies should give you access to web servers and hardware.
- Related software – A hosting company should have a roster of essential related software.
- IT technical support – A hosting company should have skilled technical support for IT-related queries.
- Data storage – A web host should have a data center with sufficient storage.
- Cybersecurity – A hosting provider should have cybersecurity experts capable of disaster recovery, providing stable network connections, and offering safe web hosting.
Look for providers that have more of the above features instead of less. You can also negotiate or ask if you need additional features.
Different Types of Hosting Services
Here are the various hosting options web websites provide.
Shared hosting means multiple websites are on one shared web hosting server. This option is the most economical of all hosting plans because multiple clients or users can share one server to save money.
Since personal websites or website files exist on the same server as others, the server becomes more affordable.
This web hosting lets you access computer resources for only a few dollars. You can get RAM, CPU, disk space, and bandwidth.
Shared hosting operates around specific limitations, including limits to control panel access and what you can do with your website, apps, or systems.
There’s also reseller hosting, where a user rents a server and resells parts of it as shared hosting.
Shared hosting isn’t the best idea if you want more reliable servers. If something happens to a website on the shared hosting server, it could affect your business website too.
The risk of shared hosting is you share a single physical server. Corrupted web pages on the server could also corrupt your website’s files.
However, if you’re on a budget, it’s the best solution when starting out. That’s what I personally did, and I used Hostgator.
Virtual Private Server (VPS) Hosting
Virtual private server (VPS) web hosting is when you rent a virtual machine that gives you a chunk of a server. A virtual server is part of the entire network of servers.
VPS hosting gives you your own virtual environment. Think of it as your slice of a cake you share with others.
You can make a server out of multiple hardware to form one network. Virtual servers divide that network and give you a fraction.
VPS hosting offers more memory, performance, and flexibility than a shared plan.
You have more freedom because a section of the whole server is yours.
Since VPS hosting gives you virtual private servers, you have more freedom to decide how they function. However, this freedom is still limited to the general rules of the entire server.
Dedicated hosting gives you a dedicated server—a physical server you rent out.
You can modify your site to your liking if it’s on a dedicated server.
Dedicated servers provide ways for companies to have complete control of their assets.
A service provider lets you rent an entire dedicated server to host websites, store files, or run apps and systems. It also gives your hosting account access to a personal server.
You’re free to customize your server how you see fit. The drawback is you need server management knowledge.
You can access your dedicated server if you have an internet connection. A dedicated server also has fewer limitations.
A local provider for these servers often gives you unlimited domains and additional services.
The most critical benefit of dedicated hosting is security. If you have an online business that stores confidential data, you need a safe place to keep it.
Managed hosting is an option you can add to your hosting. It includes shared, VPS, and dedicated hosting.
Managed hosting is when you avail of the hosting company’s services to manage your website.
These services can include building, maintaining, upgrading, and troubleshooting your website. On top of web hosting, managed hosting also takes care of your general website needs.
There is a service called managed WordPress hosting where you hire a company to manage your WordPress website.
Managed hosting helps with the following tasks.
- Regular plug-in updates
- Security patches
- Anti-malware scans
- Website backup
Depending on specific terms, you can also let the service provider have complete control. This setup limits your creativity but ensures intensive website management.
The downside of managed hosting is it can require completing access to your controls, essentially blocking you out.
Providers block owners to prevent them from toying with the website or server. Doing so gives hosting companies total control of what goes in and out.
You’ll give up control and get better website security in return.
Cloud hosting is similar to VPS hosting. Instead of renting a physical server, you are renting out a portion of cloud storage.
You gain access to a private cloud—a fraction of the provider’s entire cloud.
A cloud includes servers you access over the internet.
Cloud hosting providers often give flexible options, allowing businesses to choose features based on their specific needs.
Since you are not renting hardware, you can have near-unlimited scalability. It also makes adjusting your RAM, CPU, or storage needs easy.
The more specific you are, the better. You can specify your needs and pay only for what you use with cloud hosting.
Cloud hosting can be a highly cost-efficient hosting service.
However, this type of hosting requires a degree of technical cloud knowledge.
Why Do You Need Web Hosting Services?
You need a server to run a website, app, or system. However, web hosting services also provide the following benefits.
Better Visibility and Control
If you outsource the website, you have less control over it. Slightly changing your website will require a lengthy process.
Outsourcing can also be problematic if your website collects sensitive data. You have little to no control over your assets.
You also lack visibility. Not being able to see behind the scenes can lead to many issues.
Seeing the backend is crucial when running a small to medium-sized business. It will help you learn and progress faster.
You can get hosting plans with better performance, giving you a high-speed website.
The sky’s the limit with hosting companies. The only limit is how much you’re comfortable spending.
A hosting provider can help if you want to create an online browser-based game, regardless of the game’s size.
Hosting companies let you start with the basics and allow you to upgrade as your business scales. You have more options, meaning you can adjust your budget accordingly.
Don’t hesitate to start with the cheapest plans and work your way up. Furthermore, feel free to modify the specs you rent.
Another option is to downscale. Opt for fewer specs at lower prices if you see that you’re paying for features you don’t need or use.
A hosting company often provides better security than the company doing everything itself because hosting companies employ experts from different fields.
They are also adept at identifying threats.
Instead of risking failure with trial and error, hosting companies give you access to experts from the start.
Which Web Hosting Service Should You Choose?
Each hosting service has specific perks. You can’t consider any hosting service as the single best one.
When to Pick Shared Hosting
Shared hosting is perfect for those just starting.
It’s the best place to start if you don’t know how to build, customize, manage, or run a website.
Some website owners invest in the most expensive hosting service at the outset without learning the basics. Avoid this mistake.
Start from the bottom with shared hosting. It’s ideal if you plan on learning how to make a website.
Start with a rudimentary website if you don’t want to waste time and resources on trial and error.
You can always change your hosting provider once your website grows.
When to Pick VPS Hosting
VPS hosting is a suitable option if shared hosting no longer suffices.
You can go deeper and rent a virtual private server once you’ve learned the basics of hosting.
With a VPS, you have more privacy and control over your actions.
Although you don’t have complete control, you have enough control to experiment with your website. You can develop plans to grow their website.
VPS hosting is an acceptable middle ground if you haven’t decided on your website’s final form. You can choose a different hosting service once you have a fixed plan.
Depending on their plans, you can choose managed, cloud, or dedicated hosting.
I recommend either Hostgator or A2 Hosting.
When to Pick Dedicated Hosting
Dedicated hosting is essential if your business handles sensitive information. You need a private server if there is a lot at stake.
Having a server only your business can access lets you protect your data from the rest of the internet. You’ll also have better control over who in your business can access your data.
Prominent companies use dedicated hosting because they can’t afford to risk the security of their data. They need dedicated hosting if they collect customer data.
With a dedicated server, they can protect their clients from security breaches.
However, dedicated servers can be expensive and complicated to maintain. Therefore, this option is only ideal if you have an in-house IT and cybersecurity team.
When to Pick Cloud Hosting
Cloud hosting is best when you know all your requirements. An excellent way to save money is to pay only for what you use.
Cloud hosting lets businesses be smart about their spending. You can still expend whenever you need to because doing so is straightforward.
You can easily adjust what specs you want to use. If your hosting lacks power, you can quickly expand it.
You can use cloud hosting if you have a flexible website because it’s a fantastic way to save money.
Some websites have specific RAM, CPU, and storage requirements. Cloud hosting lets you pay only for what you need.
When To Pick Managed Hosting
Try managed hosting if you’ve tried shared hosting but couldn’t run your website.
Managed hosting is for businesses that don’t have the time, knowledge, or resources to run their websites by themselves.
Managed hosting is suitable for basic business websites like one-page company sites.
Choose managed hosting services to handle your website if you want to focus on more pressing business matters. This option is best for businesses that don’t profit from their website.
The Bottom Line
I hope my guide has clarified what a hosting service is and its purpose in your business.
Now that you know the different web hosting services, it should be easy to determine which is best for your unique needs. It would also help your decision-making to know the difference between web hosting vs. cloud hosting.
Don’t hesitate to start with free trials to examine the quality of service from various providers.