A Guide To The Different Types Of Hosts and Servers

Depending on your needs, you will almost always be able to find the web hosting company - and a web hosting plan - that is tailored and customized to your specific requirements. From online shopping carts, social forums, graphic galleries, and enterprise websites to online blogs, recipe pages, news outlets, and high-traffic information websites, there are different hosts, plans, and packages for everyone.

However, the trick is in knowing what's on offer before choosing, so that you choose a host based on your needs, and not the other way around. Read on below to learn more about the different options out there.

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Free hosting

Free hosting is exactly what it sounds like: web hosting that is provided to you by a host for (generally) no cost at all. This is a great choice for when you want to set up a website just for fun or to try things out. Free hosts often provide upload and download speeds that are relatively slow, and websites that run on these plans can go down pretty frequently.

Further, automatic ad banners will show up on your page, and you usually cannot transfer the domain you use on these sites. Given all of these shortcomings and restrictions, free hosting isn't for everyone, and is most certainly not for anyone who wants to run a professional-looking webpage, or a service that needs to be fast and up all the time. Choose free hosting only if you have low - or no - specific requirements, and just want to make a webpage with no specific goal in mind.

Shared hosting

A level up from free hosting is shared hosting, in which your website, along with many others, are all hosted on one shared server. This means that all of the physical properties and capabilities of the server, as well as its software applications, are shared by all of the webpages hosted on it.

This is a price-friendly way to get your webpage up, but such plans are often slow, and they usually cannot be scaled up to provide additional computing resources should your webpage do well and generate more traffic. If that happens, your site is likely to go down, but if you just want a steady, low-scale presence up and running, shared hosting will provide that to you.

Dedicated hosting

With dedicated hosting, you are given an entire server for hosting your page. This means you own and control all of the server's resources, allowing for faster performance, better uptime, more flexibility, and the ability to do custom deployments or install add-ons and patches whenever you like. However, you are also responsible for the entire cost of server operation, which is not only very pricey, but takes a lot of technical know-how to do as well. Still, dedicated servers are a great option for websites that require heavy resources, or that require high levels of security.

Linux and Windows hosting

Linux and Windows are two major hosting platforms. When you're choosing a host, you can choose either Linux-based services, or opt for Windows-based services. Hosts that deploy Linux are called Linux hosts, while those that run Windows are called Windows hosts. Use Windows hosts if your website is built, or will be built, on applications made by Microsoft, such as ASP, or if you expect to use applications such as Microsoft Access or Microsoft SQL. If you want something a little cheaper, go for a Linux web hosting service, as these are usually cheaper than Windows-based hosting.

Virtual Private Server (VPS) hosting

Providing a great deal of flexibility, custom setups, root access, and more, Virtual Private Servers (VPS) are an advanced type of web hosting that provide features usually only seen with dedicated servers, but at a much more budget-friendly price.

Each account that runs on a VPS solution has its own operating system, giving the user a lot more admin power and access to features such as FTP, e-mail setup, etc. Many VPS plans feature automated allocation of resources based on need, meaning you can scale RAM, bandwidth, storage space, and other computing resources up or down based on your need. This makes VPS plans very efficient, because you only use what you need, and you only pay for what you use.

Managed hosting

Managed plans provide the convenience of a shared server with the power of a dedicated server. In this hosting environment, your host manages your server and configures, sets up, and maintains your server, all firewalls and security layers, as well as other devices required by the hosting plan to make your site both functional as well as available online.

To put things another way, your host basically acts as an admin supervisor of your site to make sure that everything runs smoothly for you all the time, and all responsibilities for the maintenance and upkeep of your site belong to the host. This type of setup is great for web novices or those who don't want to have to handle daily setup, maintenance, and site checks.

Magento, Drupal, Joomla, and WordPress

Depending on the type of website you want to have, you can run Magento (which is an online shopping technology), Drupal (which is an advanced Content Management System), Joomla (which is also a Content Management System, but is somewhat less advanced than Drupal), or WordPress (which is perhaps the world's favourite and most popular Content Management System and is used by millions of websites worldwide).

There are web hosts that have customized, one-click options for all of these types of setups, and if you have done a little research and know you want to go for one of the technologies above, you'll be in good hands with any of the Magento, Drupal, Joomla, or WordPress hosting experts in the market.

Looking for a niche hosting company that provides something beyond all of the above? Let us know what your needs are and we'll set you up with the company that's just right for you.