Web hosting is essential if you want to get your website online. We know it’s part and parcel of the website experience, but which type of web hosting to choose is another story.
If you’ve looked through our best web hosting recommendations you might already have some idea of what kind of hosting you’re after, but if you still have some questions, I’m hoping this article will help answer those.
The main types of web hosting include:
- Shared hosting
- Cloud hosting
- VPS hosting
- WordPress hosting
- Dedicated hosting
Table of Contents
What Is Web Hosting And Why Do You Need It?
Before diving in and exploring the different types of web hosting, let’s discuss what web hosting actually is and why you need it to run a website.
When you type a URL into your web browser, you are able to view the content on said website because the website’s files, images, and content are hosted on a server. Servers are rented from web hosting companies like SiteGround on a monthly or annual basis. You will either have a small portion of a server or an entire web server, depending on what type of hosting you choose.
Servers are essentially computers; they have RAM, CPU, and other technical specifications to make them as powerful as they can be to hold hundreds and even thousands of websites. If a web hosting company owns a server, they can rent parts of a server out to their customers (you). If lots of people are renting space on one server, it naturally becomes cheaper for the customer as more people are paying for the service – this is known as shared hosting. However, if there are less people on a server, offering more space and resources to fewer people, the price hikes up as the hosting company has to pass this onto the customer.
Why Are There Different Hosting Types?
Web hosting companies tend to offer different hosting services to cater for different customers. For example, shared hosting is more suitable for first websites and smaller sites like portfolios and blogs, whereas cloud hosting is better for businesses who are looking to grow.
Different hosting types also offer different features, different technology, and of course different prices. The hosting market is incredibly verse, from cheap hosting plans starting from $0.99 per month to entire services costing over $200 per month.
Shared hosting is a bit like living in an apartment. There’s an overall building (the server), and multiple residents living in different apartments (server space/customers). Shared hosting is cheaper because you’re sharing one big space with lots of other customers, making it cheaper for the server host to run.
However, if one customer exceeds their limits or regularly has high traffic on their website, this could impact all of the other customers on the same server. There’s pros and cons to all types of web hosting which we’ll explain in greater detail as we go on.
Note: Most hosting companies offer either a free trial or money-back guarantee. This means you can try their services without worrying about the cost because if you don’t like your experience, you can get your money back.
Shared Hosting (Best For Small Websites And Beginners)
Shared hosting means you share a web server with other customers. Your website and other customers websites share the same resources like RAM and CPU, but you’ll be allocated a certain amount of storage space and bandwidth.
A single shared hosting server can host hundreds and even thousands of websites. Shared hosting is often cheaper because of this, but it also means your website could perform poorly in comparison to another type of hosting.
How Much Is Shared Hosting?
Shared hosting can cost anywhere between $0.99 per month up to around $20 per month. There are free shared hosting services, but if you’re serious about your website I wouldn’t recommend them. Most shared hosting plans include a money-back guarantee, so you can always sign up to a web host and cancel your plan if you don’t like it within their money-back period.
Who Is It Suitable For?
Shared web hosting is geared towards customers who are on a budget. If you’re not expecting large amounts of traffic to your website, you’ll have enough resources for your website to run without many issues. Shared hosting is ideal for small websites, portfolios, and blogs.
VPS Hosting (Best For More Resources)
VPS stands for Virtual Private Server. A physical server is shared but it acts like multiple servers. It’s often the next logical step after shared hosting. VPS hosting customers share hardware and resources, but unlike shared hosting they get allocated a certain amount of each.
If another customer on a VPS plan outgrows their resources, your website performance won’t be affected. Having fewer websites sharing server resources also puts less stress on the sofa, increasing the overall speed and performance.
VPS hosting servers tend to be configurable, so you get more flexibility in comparison to shared hosting. With shared hosting you can’t modify your resources, so you’re limited in terms of availability and access. VPS offers more flexibility and control, as well as providing scalable options when you start to outgrow your allocated resources.
How Much Is VPS Hosting?
You can expect to pay anywhere between $5 to $50 per month for VPS hosting. It’s more expensive than shared hosting but not too expensive that it’s not affordable for most users. Some VPS hosting providers do offer cheap VPS hosting, however, you’ll need to make note of your allocated resources like RAM and CPU to ensure it’s suitable for your needs.
Who Is It Suitable For?
If you have the extra budget to surpass shared hosting or your website is starting to grow, VPS hosting is worth considering. If you want to manage your own platform and have more control over your server, VPS hosting can offer this at a reasonable price.
Cloud Hosting (Best For Scalability)
Cloud hosting uses lots of different servers to ensure maximum uptime. Unlike shared hosting, cloud hosting uses something known as a cluster that pools resources from a central place. If one server fails for whatever reason, another server picks up your website data to ensure everything runs smoothly.
Unlike its name, cloud hosting doesn’t actually have anything to do with “the cloud”. It’s just a name for different computers which are all connected. As more computers are connected, more resources become available. When you sign up for a cloud hosting plan you’ll get part of the cluster.
Cloud hosting is great for growing websites as the resources are scalable. It’s also a solid choice for busy websites and online stores as there’s a big focus on uptime, resources, and growth.
How Much Is Cloud Hosting?
Cloud hosting costs anywhere between $15 to $60+ per month. Yes it’s more expensive than shared hosting, and sometimes more than VPS hosting, but it’s worth the investment if you’re serious about your website. Businesses shouldn’t even consider shared hosting, due to the lack of resources and growth. Cloud hosting pretty much guarantees your website will always be online, so it’s worth chucking a few extra dollars towards it to get the most out of your cloud hosting plan.
Who Is It Suitable For?
High traffic websites, important websites, and business websites like online stores should consider cloud hosting. If your budget allows for it, cloud hosting is a reliable and highly secure option. You’ll have more control over your server in comparison to shared hosting, and you’ll have more resources in addition to the reassurance over your sites uptime.
WordPress Hosting (Best For WordPress Websites)
WordPress hosting comes in two forms; managed and unmanaged WordPress hosting. Unmanaged WordPress hosting allows you to manage your own server, security updates, and website. You’ll be responsible for making sure your website and WordPress version, plugins, etc. are up to date.
Many unmanaged WordPress hosting plans include WordPress-specific features like free plugins, WordPress optimized servers, and more. On the other hand, managed WordPress hosting takes the control slightly out of your hands, but for good reason. If you don’t have the time or skill to update your own website or ensure your security is kept tight, managed hosting can handle this for you.
Managed WordPress hosting is kind of like a VIP experience. You’ll have WordPress experts that handle the running of your server, including important security and version updates. You won’t have to worry about being on outdated versions, but you do pay a lot more for this service.
How Much Is WordPress Hosting?
WordPress hosting is available from most shared hosting providers like Hostinger. You can also get WordPress-specific hosting and managed WordPress hosting from companies like DreamHost, but the cost does start to creep up. Expect to pay anything between $0.99 to $35+ per month for WordPress hosting, depending on the option you choose.
Who Is It Suitable For?
Unsurprisingly, if your website is built using WordPress, you may want to consider WordPress hosting. WordPress hosting often includes added WordPress benefits like optimized servers for speed and performance, handy plugins, and security updates. Although many web hosts include support and 1-click installations for WordPress, it’s worth seeking out a WordPress plan over a shared hosting plan.
Dedicated Hosting (Best For High Traffic Websites)
Dedicated server hosting is the big guns in terms of server hosting. You’ll have an entire server to yourself so you won’t have to share your resources with anyone. Renting a dedicated server is costly as a server that could host hundreds of websites is in your possession, however, it does give you complete control over your hosting and resources.
Dedicated hosting is only really recommended for people that have experience with this kind of thing. For developers who host multiple websites for clients, it’s cost-effective and reliable. However, for a single site or a small website, it would be a little over the top.
Another thing to recognize is that by renting your own dedicated server, you’ll have to be in control of updating your website, keeping on top of security, and ensuring your website is online with no issues. If you do encounter any issues, you’ll need to deal with them yourself as you’re renting a whole server.
How Much Is Dedicated Hosting?
Dedicated hosting is expensive, there’s no way around it or putting it nicely to be honest. Dedicated server cost $60 per month upwards to rent. Remember, you’ve got a whole server to yourself, so you could use the space to rent out to other people, but that’s entirely up to you.
Who Is It Suitable For?
Dedicated servers are ideal for web developers who have lots of websites to work on and need a place to host them all. It’s also great for experimenting with, if you have the budget to do so of course. For large websites and busy online stores, dedicated hosting gives you complete control and essentially infinite resources.
What Type Of Hosting Is Right For You?
Choosing the right type of web hosting is no mean feat. A lot of consideration needs to be taken as to what your requirements are, what you want to achieve from your hosting service, and what your budget is.
I hope by explaining the different types of web hosting you’re able to get more of a feel for what you need. If you’re starting out on your first website or you don’t have much experience with websites, shared hosting is a good place to start – it’s cheap, it’s easy to use, and you have the option to upgrade your plan if you need more resources.
Once you’re ready to expand your horizons, you can explore what cloud and VPS hosting have to offer. Remember, don’t just go for the first web host you come across – do your research (or we’ll do it for you if you need some help). Consider uptime, RAM, CPU, storage, bandwidth, and features. If you need support, customer service is a factor you should consider – does the host offer 24/7 support?
Remember, the web hosting market is incredibly competitive – hosts are doing what they can to rival other hosts in terms of features and pricing. Most hosts will offer a money-back guarantee or a free trial, so if you’re really stuck for choice, give them a go before you commit on a more permanent basis.