Types Of web hosting, and how to choose between them

Finding a web hosting company is never going to be a problem, but finding the right type of hosting can be more of a challenge.  In this article, we'll look at the four broad categories of hosting that are available.  Once you understand these types of web hosting, you'll be in a better position to choose the one that best meets your needs.

Free And Paid Shared Hosting

This is the type of hosting that you're most likely to come across.  Shared hosting means that your website is sharing server space with many other online users.  It's also known as virtual hosting, since more than one domain can share the same ip address.  Think of it as a block of apartments, where each individual tenant has their own little corner of the main street address.  If you're considering this type of hosting, remember that many websites on one machine can mean slower response times, and occasionally server failure, if your online neighbors are running particularly heavy programs.  Free services are almost always false economy for any serious online business, as they make their money by intrusive pop-ups and advertising, over which you have no control.

Dedicated Hosting

Dedicated hosting is the next step up, like moving out of an apartment block to your own house.  This is a one server, one client system, so you don't have to share server space with other users.  You also have complete control over the server that you're leasing, so you can instal your own software and enjoy greater control over the services you run.  It is, of course, much more expensive than shared hosting.

Co-Location Hosting

This is similar to dedicated hosting, but it's more like renting a house than outright home ownership.  Under this type of hosting system, you only pay for the space you're actually using, rather than the entire server.  This takes away a lot of responsibility for management of the hardware, and consequently a lot of the worry.  It is accordingly a cheaper version of dedicated hosting.

Virtual Dedicated Server and Virtual Private Server Hosting

This is really two different ways of saying the same thing - one server divided into several partititions, with each partition being dedicated to a single client.  To all intents and purposes, each client has their own dedicated server, hence the expression "virtual" server.  This is like leasing your own luxury apartment.  You can do what you like within the confines of your own virtual server, adding in software and customized services, and even rebooting it like a separate physical server if required.

In the end, the type of hosting you require will depend on the type of online business or website that you want to run, as well as the size of your budget.  If you don't need a lot of space, and if control isn't an issue, then shared hosting will be fine.  If you're a larger business, then co-location or virtual dedication should be considered.  Finally, if money is no object and full control is important to the success of your business, you should consider the full dedicated server option.

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