Comparing Web Hosting Options

Friday, January 20, 2012

Once you have made a choice to host your website with a web hosting provider over hosting the website on your own, the next step is to figure out what type of web hosting you need. Different web hosting options have their advantages and disadvantages and of course, range in price. This article will summarize the most common types of web hosting options available to you.

Free Hosting

There are many web hosting companies that provide free web hosting. Free web hosting is best suited for small, personal sites that expect low traffic. Free sites are generally not recommended for business sites that have high traffic requirements. In additional, technical support is usually very limited. In many cases, the web hosting provider will insert their own advertising at the very top of bottom of your web pages. This could take away from the professional look you are trying to establish. Here is a summary of what you can expect with the free web hosting option:

  • Free
  • Easy to setup
  • You do not need to register your own domain name. You will be given the option of creating a sub-domain of their domain.
  • Good for personal use
  • Great option for a personal blog site
  • Limited email options
  • Very limited database support
  • Limited technical support

Shared Hosting

Shared web hosting is a cost effective solution for most small companies. Most packages start at around $3.50 per month. Packages usually include the ability to use your own domain name, email, and provide database support. Technical support tends to be good and perimeter (firewall, filtering, etc..) is usually included as well.

  • Startup costs are usually none to low
  • Monthly charges are affordable
  • Great for small business that need to establish a web presence
  • Web hosting companies generally provide templates so web coding may not be required.
  • Technical support is provided for you site
  • Bandwidth and storage may be limited
  • Additional features and add-ons require additional charges

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Dedicated Hosting

In some situations, shared hosting may not be an option for you. You may have certain requirements that shared hosting options cannot provide. With dedicated hosting, your web site is hosted on a dedicated server, whether it be a physical or virtual server. In most cases, web hosting providers are leveraging virtualization technologies to keep the prices of dedicated hosting affordable. This option is best for larger web sites that require high traffic volumes, and have special requirements such as software that cannot be supported in the shared platform.

  • More flexible and scalable option
  • Great for mid to large businesses
  • Costs are usually much higher $75.00 - $350.00 per month
  • Multiple domain names are other features are included without additional charges
  • Limitations on bandwidth, storage, email, and database are removed
  • Requires additional technical skills

Collocated Hosting

Collocated hosting lets you place your own web server on the premises of the service provider. The provider will give you the space, power, and network connectivity. This option provides the most flexibility with regard to options, but is also the most costly type of hosting. Business choose this option when they want to host their own web server, but do not have the proper location to place the equipment. If a company invests funds into their server and network equipment, they want to make sure that it is physically secured and monitored 24 hours per day. In addition, providers that offer this type of service have already invested money into making their data centers secure and reliable.

  • Most flexible
  • Best for large businesses
  • Great option as a disaster recovery site
  • Most expensive option
  • Unlimited options with regard to website management

It is probably best to start with a "Shared" hosting option and upgrading your service as your web site grows. Most providers offer a means to do this without starting from scratch. Keep in mind that you should do as much research as possible when choosing a web host company. While it is possible to move from one hosting company to another, it's not as easy as "flipping" a switch. So, once you do choose a provider, you'll want to make sure that they can service your needs.

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Recommended Books & Training Resources

How to Host Your Own Web Server Internet World Wide Web: How to Program