What are the different types of web hosting?

What are the different types of web hosting?
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In the world of web hosting, there are many options that will all get your site on the web. However, each of them cater directly to website owners needs - whether those needs be big or small. 

1. Best for beginners: Hostinger

1. Best for beginners: Hostinger
Hostinger make hosting so easy and that's why they're our number one pick for shared hosting. This type of hosting is perfect for smaller sites like blogs and websites for small businesses.

You can use our exclusive discount code "TRDISCOUNT8" to receive 8% discount at checkout.

2. Best for enterprise: ScalaHosting

2. Best for enterprise: ScalaHosting
ScalaHosting's managed VPS plans are prefect for larger businesses because they offer all the benefits of cloud like auto scaling and redundancy so you can focus on development.  

TechRadar Pro readers can use the link above to receive an exclusive 15% off at checkout on top of other discounts.

3. Best for the tech savvy: inMotion Hosting

3. Best for the tech savvy: inMotion Hosting
If you're not new to hosting and you're looking for power, speed, reliability, and the flexibility of custom deployments then inMotion Hosting's dedicated plans are a serious option.

While they all act as a storage place for your website, where they differ is the amount of storage capacity, control, technical knowledge requirement, server speed and reliability. These are the six types of web hosting you will most often come across: 

1. Shared hosting

Shared hosting is perfect for entry-level website hosting. This is where your website will be stored on the same server as multiple other websites. With a shared hosting plan, all domains share the same server resources, such as RAM (Random Access Memory) and CPU (Central Processing Unit). However, because all resources are shared, the cost of shared hosting plans are relatively low, making them an excellent option for website owners in their beginning stages. 

In most cases, beginners will find shared the simplest method of hosting their website; so regardless of whether you’re a small business owner, a community group, or a stay-at-home mom with a desire to blog, your site will be accessible on the web. Shared hosting plans often comes with many helpful tools, and you can easier end up with bonus services such as the best website builder tools, the best WordPress hosting, and the ability to email clients.

Although shared hosting provides website owners with a more simplistic approach to the web, the trade-off is that you’re sharing the server with multiple other website owners. This means that surges in usage can ultimately affect your website’s user experience. 

Shared hosting plans are ideal for website owners that do not receive a large amount of web traffic.

2. VPS hosting

A VPS hosting plan is the ultimate middle ground between a shared server and a dedicated server. It’s ideal for website owners that need more control, but don’t necessarily need a dedicated server.

VPS hosting is unique because each website is hosted within its own space on the server, though it still shares a physical server with other users. While VPS hosting provides website owners with more customization and storage space, they’re still not able to handle incredibly high traffic levels or spikes in usage meaning that the site performance can still be affected by other sites on the server

Typically, VPS hosting is used by website owners who want dedicated hosting but don’t have the technical knowledge needed. VPS hosting offers the cost benefits of shared hosting with the control of dedicated hosting. A great choice for advanced users and those that want specific software and package installations.

3. Dedicated server hosting

Dedicated hosting gives website owners the most control over the server that their website is  stored on. That’s because the server is exclusively rented by you and your website is the only one stored on it. This means that you have full root and admin access, so you can control everything from security to operating system that you run.

However, all that control comes with a price.

Dedicated servers cost are one of the most expensive web hosting options. Typically, they are used by website owners with high levels of website traffic, and those who are in need of complete control of their servers. In addition, a high level of technical expertise is required for the installation and ongoing management of the server. 

4. Cloud hosting

Cloud hosting is the current buzzword of the technology industry. In regards to web hosting, it means many computers working together, running applications using combined computing resources. It’s a hosting solution that works via a network and enables companies to consume computing resource like a utility.

This allows users to employ as many resources as they need without having to build and maintain their own computing infrastructure. The resources that are being used are spread across several servers, reducing the chance of any downtime due to a server malfunction.

Cloud-based hosting is scalable, meaning your site can grow over time, using as many resources as it requires and while the website owner only pays for what they need.

Many hosts now use cloud architecture and use it to package traditional style hosting plans like shared and VPS. These 'cloud shared' and 'cloud VPS' plans provide basically the same amount of resources as the standard shared or VPS but with a bit more flexibility.

5. Managed hosting

Most hosting packages you will find online are likely to be managed. Hosting companies provide technical services such as hardware and software setup and configuration, maintenance, hardware replacement, technical support, patching, updating and monitoring. With managed hosting, the provider looks after the day-to-day management of the hardware, operating systems and standardised applications.

Although there are many different options to choose from when it comes to web hosting, it all comes down to choosing a plan that fits your needs. Each plan caters to the specifications of different groups and realizing what your needs in a website are will help you ensure that you’re choosing the right plan for you and your business. 

6. Colocation

Instead of keeping servers in-house or at a private data centre, you may choose to ”‘co-locate” your equipment by renting space in a colocation centre. The centre will provide the power, bandwidth, IP address and cooling systems that your server requires. Space is rented out in racks and cabinets.

Colocation gives access to higher levels of bandwidth than a normal office server room at a much lower cost. You’re left to your own devices (literally) and will be expected to take care of everything including the hardware, software and services.

Which is best for you?

Although there are many different options to choose from when it comes to the best web hosting, it all comes down to choosing a plan that fits your needs. Each plan caters to the specifications of different groups and realizing what your needs in a website are will help you ensure that you’re choosing the right plan for you and your business. 

The crucial factors that you should keep in mind when selecting a web host include the type of website you have, the resources you need, your budget, and expected traffic. Here’s a quick overview of the advantage of each type of hosting:

Shared Hosting: The most cost-effective option for low traffic websites.

Managed Hosting: Ideal for non-technical users who’d rather defer the more technical tasks to experts. 

VPS Hosting: Simply put, this is the best option for websites that have outgrown shared hosting.

Cloud Hosting: Works best for websites that are growing rapidly and need scalable resources.

Dedicated Hosting: Expensive option for large websites where you need to be in control.

Colocation Hosting: The most expensive option that gives you maximum control over the hardware and software.

  • This is an adapted excerpt from an eBook called "The ultimate guide to web hosting", published by TechRadar Pro in association with Planet Hippo
Desire Athow
Managing Editor, TechRadar Pro

Désiré has been musing and writing about technology during a career spanning four decades. He dabbled in website builders and web hosting when DHTML and frames were in vogue and started narrating about the impact of technology on society just before the start of the Y2K hysteria at the turn of the last millennium.

With contributions from