Web hosting is a necessity for anyone planning to own a website, but because the hosting needs of an eCommerce site are very different from that of a small blog, the hosting industry offers several different hosting options to cover all types of hosting needs that may arise.
Choosing a hosting type that fails to meet your website’s requirements will leave you struggling with performance issues, slow loading pages, downtimes and a lot of frustration. A lot depends on what type of hosting plan you choose, so it’s important to evaluate your requirements as well as you can from the start. However, over-sizing your hosting plan can cause trouble from a financial perspective – with too many unused resources you’ll essentially be throwing money out of the window, money that you could easily invest in other aspects of your online business.
Before you settle on a hosting plan, take the time to familiarize yourself with the different hosting offerings of the industry, and narrow down your choices to the type of web hosting plan that you actually need:
Shared hosting is the most basic type of hosting found in the offerings of any hosting provider. In fact, shared hosting is so common that several hosting companies specialize in offering shared hosting plans only (e.g. eHost.com).
On a shared hosting account, your website shares the resources of a given server with other sites residing on the same server. This can potentially cause website performance issues if other neighboring sites use up too much of the shared resources, however, reliable hosting companies will monitor resource usage and suspend or throttle accounts that constantly use up too much resources, determining them to upgrade to a plan that better accommodates their website’s needs.
Unlimited or unmetered hosting plans are the new industry-standard for hosting companies, and with a few exceptions – e.g. A Small Orange, where all shared plans are limited – most hosting companies offer unlimited disk space and bandwidth, which means that you are not billed based on how much disk space or bandwidth you use up. The resources of these unlimited plans are capped at a certain threshold considered as normal usage by the hosting company. Until your site’s usage stays below that threshold, it’s unlikely that you will encounter any problems.
When your website starts to use up too much memory and CPU resources, it’s a clear indication that you’ve outgrown your shared hosting plan. Shared hosting is suitable for small to middle-sized websites with low traffic and low CPU and memory usage.
Virtual Private Hosting
VPSs are the stepping stone to the realm of dedicated resources. Virtual private hosting provides dedicated resources that are assigned to your site only, but your site will run alongside other VPS accounts on a given server; these accounts are kept separate from one another and don’t have any bearing on each other’s performance.
A VPS plan will not only give you more resources and power, but also more control over your server with root access, possibility to run custom scripts and apps. VPS plans come in managed and unmanaged form. Managed VPS plans are aimed at those who lack the know-how to manage servers, while unmanaged VPS plans are designed for those who need to run specialized websites that don’t use industry-standard solutions.
Managed VPS plans cost more than unmanaged plans since they include support for server security, updates, several licenses (e.g. cPanel license), and many other features that are not included with unmanaged plans.
VPS plans are suitable for when you need more resources than what a shared hosting plan can offer, but you don’t need to go for the big guns yet (dedicated hosting), you need root access to your server or your site contains data that is not allowed on shared hosting.
Semi-dedicated hosting is not as wildly popular as shared hosting or VPS hosting is, but it’s a good choice for those who need slightly more resources than what typical shared hosting plans offer, but are not willing to pay for a VPS plan.
With a semi-dedicated hosting, you are still in the realm of shared hosting, however, you have access to much more resources since the resources of a server are distributed over significantly fewer accounts.
Unless you truly need the extra punch offered by VPS or dedicated plans, you can upgrade to a semi-dedicated hosting plan, and thus enjoy better performance at a low cost.
A dedicated server is the most performant plan the hosting industry can offer, the Holy Grail of hosting if you will. As its name suggests, a dedicated server is an entire server dedicated exclusively to your site. It’s no wonder then that dedicated hosting is also the most expensive plan offered by hosting companies.
You may need this type of web hosting plan if you plan on running complex applications that use up a lot of resources, if you have a high-traffic website or you’re looking to host multiple sites, if you plan on storing sensitive business data or you need a highly secure hosting environment to process a high volume of credit card payments.
Just like in the case of VPS hosting, the managed/unmanaged dichotomy applies to dedicated servers as well, with managed dedicated servers being more expensive than their unmanaged counterpart.
Cloud hosting is a novel type of hosting that is not limited to the resources of a single server, instead it harnesses the power of an entire network of servers for a scalable and flexible hosting environment that is capable to keep up the pace with your changing hosting needs. Redundancy, load-balanced servers, security and scalable resources are the main advantages of cloud hosting.
There is clear shift in the hosting industry toward cloud hosting services, especially in the field of app development, where cloud hosting providers like Microsoft Azure, AWS and Google Cloud Platform are setting the tone for innovative hosting solutions with enormous computing powers.
Cloud hosting is especially suitable for businesses that are looking to build complex enterprise-level apps or need a pay-as-you-go type of hosting service that is scalable on demand. Cloud hosting services provide a performance-driven hosting infrastructure that minimizes superfluous expenditures and eliminates some of the constraints of traditional hosting paradigms.
WordPress hosting and WooCommerce hosting are two examples of hosting plans that are optimized for the particularities of certain platforms.
Managed WordPress hosting is especially popular among website owners who are using WordPress as the CMS of choice for their websites or blogs. BlueHost’s WordPress optimized hosting plans are the golden standard for anyone looking for a secure and performant WordPress hosting environment.
WooCommerce optimized hosting plans offer features needed by the special nature of eCommerce sites (SSL certificates, dedicated IP address, PCI-compliance, web application firewalls, auto-updates, etc.).
Your decision to opt for one of the above hosting plans will be shaped by many factors including the profile of your website (e.g. blog/corporate site/eCommerce site), the resources your site needs to run without issues, and other specific features (e.g. cPanel, backups, content delivery network integration, root access, etc.) your site needs. Whichever hosting company you decide to go with, make sure they offer the necessary support to either supplement your plan’s resources or make it easy for you to upgrade should it become necessary in the future.