What’s the right web hosting solution for your business?

January 10th, 2018 - Get new posts sent straight to your inbox, click here. Aaron O'Keeffe

If you’ve ever set up web hosting for your business, you’ve probably heard of options like shared hosting and virtual private server hosting. With the rise of cloud technology, however, new options like cloud servers have also become available.

Understanding the difference between each of these options can help you find the right web hosting solution and ensure your customers and employees have a smooth experience on your site.

What’s web hosting?

If you want to have a website for your business with your own domain name, you need to arrange web hosting. Web hosting services also allow you to have email addresses with your unique domain name. All the data, apps, and account information is hosted by your hosting service provider, at the price of a subscription fee from you. This fee usually covers ongoing maintenance and software updates.

Free web hosting

Free web hosting is offered by certain vendors, and it’s usually not a suitable option for businesses as free web hosting rarely allows you to use your own domain name. The vendor might require advertising be displayed, and they might offer limited bandwidth allowances. Free web hosting gives you little control over the website in terms of design, back-end modules and software for things like customer log-ins and accounts.

Shared web hosting

An entry-level option, shared web hosting is the most common type of web hosting and it’s usually the most affordable option. Although it’s cost effective, your website will be sharing space on the same server as other account holders. If the server limit is exceeded, you could experience problems with reliability, uptime, and speed.

If your vendor is a less reputable one, you could end up sharing server capacity with hundreds of other websites, which can slow down your website and your customers’ experience. For businesses requiring specific software and server options, the shared web hosting solution can also pose a serious constraint to installing the software you want.

Virtual private server hosting

With a virtual private server hosting service, you’re sharing server hardware with other account holders but not the operating system. Your service provider might be hosting your account on the same server as other account holders, but your website is hosted on a separate virtual server, which means it’s running on its own copy of an operating system. This means it works as though it’s running on its own dedicated server with its own IP address.

Since you’re running on your own dedicated virtual server, this type of hosting is usually more expensive than shared hosting. However it’s cheaper than having a dedicated server for your website. If you go with a managed solution, your vendor takes care of the maintenance for you; with an unmanaged solution, you’ll be responsible for ongoing maintenance and security.

Although virtual private server hosting services could guarantee resource availability, shared hardware could mean compromises in capacity and speed.

Dedicated server hosting

The next level up from virtual private server hosting is dedicated service hosting, where your business website is hosted on a dedicated server used only by your business. Since you’re not sharing with other account holders, you might end up with a faster, more secure hosting experience. You can also set up any program and software you choose to enjoy a higher level of customisation.

Like virtual private server hosting, you can choose unmanaged or managed dedicated server hosting. With the managed option, your costs cover ongoing maintenance and updates. With an unmanaged solution, you’ll need to have your own technical staff to assist with maintenance, troubleshooting, and updates.

Security is typically the most important factor in choosing between virtual private server hosting and dedicated server hosting. For example, if you deal with a lot of sensitive data, it might make sense to have a dedicated server to yourself.

Cloud server hosting

Cloud hosting offers an unrivalled level of flexibility and scalability when it comes to hosting solutions. Instead of using a dedicated machine and sharing it with others, your business website is hosted in a virtual hosting environment that draws on what’s effectively an unlimited pool of physical servers. Whereas traditional hosting solutions rely on one server or machine, cloud server hosting is supported by multiple servers. In the virtual hosting environment, hardware can be upgraded without impacting hosting services.

The advantages of cloud server hosting include:

  • Flexibility and scalability of capacity
    You can scale up or down as your business requirements dictate. For example, if you’re a retailer expecting high volumes during the Christmas period, you could double your traffic capacity for several months. If you hosted your website on your own servers, you might have to buy extra hardware to scale up in the same manner. The setup time can be considerable, along with skills required for setup, but with cloud server hosting, you could scale up in minutes with a simple request to your provider.
  • Pay as you go 
    Cloud server hosting typically lets you pay on a subscription basis, so you pay as you go without big outlays for hardware. This lets you save because your business is paying for only what it’s using in a given period, instead of committing to major outlays in anticipation of traffic volumes that might not be realised.

When it comes to hosting your business website, you will need to ensure your site operates smoothly, at optimum speeds, and with little or no downtime. Choosing the right hosting solution can help you achieve that. While shared web hosting might be sufficient for small businesses with a basic website, other businesses with back-end functions and customer accounts could benefit from premium options like cloud server hosting.

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About the author

Aaron O'Keeffe

Aaron works from an office in the tropical Northern Territory, inciting intense jealousy from his Victorian workmates during winter. He’s an expert in IT solutions from the ground up. Aaron is National Sales Manager of Aussie Broadband, which specialises in bespoke telco solutions for corporate and government customers.