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Web hosting concept

When it comes to choosing the right Web host, information about topics like customer service and tech support are available in spades. But what about the nitty-gritty specifics of Web hosting? While choosing amidst the options for hosting your business’ website — including shared, VPS, and dedicated hosting — may not be an exact science, it does require careful research and extensive planning. The first step of the process is to cultivate a thorough understanding of each option. Let’s explore each hosting type below.

Shared Web Hosting

Shared hosting is the most commonly used hosting option, and offers each website client a shared portion of a main server. The server is shared with hundreds or even thousands of other websites, so it does not generally allow for any sort of customization. Otherwise, users can utilize this space anyway they wish within their allotted RAM or CPU limits.

Because it is shared, the available bandwidth may be limit at times as well. It is the cheapest of all the hosting options, however, making it a great option for blogs and small websites that don’t get much traffic. As site popularity and traffic grows, other options will need to be considered.

Virtual Private Servers

Virtual Private Servers (VPS) represent a middle ground between shared and dedicated hosting options. Users are still only allotted a portion of a shared server, but they are offered a significantly higher amount of freedom with regard to server and software customization. VPS servers also offer a generous and unvarying amount of bandwidth and server resources, and are typically less expensive than dedicated servers. Certain CPU and RAM resources are reserved for each website on the server, depending on each website’s individual package or plan, and VPS customers usually begin their hosting relationships with clean operating systems that can be configured based on their individual needs.

Although available bandwidth is often sufficient, neither it nor available storage space is unlimited. Therefore, if users are working with large amounts of data, numerous images, or other types of media, these resources can become saturated quickly. Furthermore, because customization is an option, users must have significant knowledge of what they can control.

Busier websites generally require the capabilities offered by VPS. Because they are designed to manage complex workloads, they are able to work faster than shared options and manage more users and complex demands.

Dedicated Servers

Dedicated hosting options consist of entire servers to store and host individual websites. According to iPage blogger Jessica Ann in her article, “What is VPS and Dedicated Hosting?,” dedicated servers offer near-complete control of the operating systems and the ability to customize both the hardware and software at will — without worry over routine maintenance or necessary repairs. They can be costly, but “from a performance point of view, [dedicated servers] are the best choice. Dedicated servers include vast space and bandwidths, giving them the capacity to process and store large quantities of information.

Because such extensive control and configuring is allotted to these customers, system failures — while unlikely — can take longer than other hosting options to recover. This can equate to the possibility of greater downtime. However, the nature of these administrative rights also means greater security of sensitive information.

Cloud Hosting

Cloud hosting is one of the more recent options made available to website owners. It offers benefits similar to those of dedicated servers without the need to deal with hardware. As a de-centralized system, if one component fails, another can easily take over with minimal to no effect on performance.

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About Jayson DeMers

Jayson DeMers is the founder & CEO of AudienceBloom, a Seattle-based content marketing & social media agency. Jayson graduated from the University of Washington in 2008 with a degree in Business Administration, and immediately entered the field of online marketing. Since then, he has become a contributor to Forbes, Huffington Post, Entrepreneur, and other major media publications. Jayson occasionally guest lectures for 400-level marketing classes at the University of Washington, and keynoted the 2013 "MarketingProfs University." He's a member of Entrepreneur.com's "Team Digital," which provides weekly marketing insight for entrepreneurs.

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