Getting your new domain name and future website hosted online is so cheap right now, and very easy to setup, so there really is no excuse for trying to get by on free hosting. Yes, free things are good, but in the end you get what you pay for. This short guide will hopefully get you on your way to finding a real, reliable, cost-effective means of hosting your site.
This is generally considered to be the entry-level position in getting a new website online that will not have a huge amount of traffic straight out of the gate. Shared hosting is the cheapest option available right now, although not by a lot in terms of price per month, and it can bring with it some unnecessary complications that will definitely make you consider paying a little bit more.
The general idea behind shared hosting is very simple: you and your website are sharing space with hundreds or even thousands of others that have been put on the same server. This means that you are also sharing all of the resources needed to run a website such as memory, CPU time, storage space, bandwidth, etc. This can obviously lead to problems if your “neighbors” on the server have greedy websites, or your hosting provider does nothing to enforce fair limits and keep everything running smoothly.
A virtual private server (VPS) is a step up when compared to shared hosting, but you may run in to a few of the same issues since you are still technically sharing a server with other websites. The difference with a VPS is that you are sharing with much, much fewer other people. What makes this different from a typical shared hosting package is that the server resources are fairly split and then reserved for each user. If you have paid for 2GB of memory and 30GB of storage space, then these will be allotted to your account and not allowed to be used by others hosted on your server.
Perhaps the biggest difference of a VPS is just how many things you can do with it, and the fact that you don’t need to keep bothering your hosting provider to setup simple things for you. This can be either a positive or a negative, depending on your level of technical skills and/or your willingness to take some time to learn how to operate a VPS properly. For example: most cheaper VPS packages are sold to you without much support at all beyond the bare necessities, and it is therefore up to you to perform routine tasks such as creating databases, email and FTP accounts, implementing security, and so on. If you are uncomfortable doing all of this, steer clear of “unmanaged” VPS packages and be prepared to pay a bit more in return for technical support.
So, while you aren’t quite a homeowner yet and you’re still renting your place on the internet, you have much more control over what you can do on your VPS (and your neighbors will basically keep to themselves) as opposed to what happens on shared hosting packages.
By now you have probably heard people talking about “the cloud”. It has become a very popular term since Apple decided to implement it on all of their iOS devices, but has also been around for a while before then. But what does it all mean? Well, in simple terms, “the cloud” is just a bunch of servers that are setup in a way to balance the load and minimize downtime caused by faulty or overloaded hardware. Traditionally, if the server your website is on experiences technical difficulties or a security breach, your website would go down. If you are using cloud hosting, your website has basically been replicated over all of the other servers in the network, and these other servers will pick up the slack if one or more of them goes down.
Cloud hosting can also be scaled up or down much easier than what generally occurs with shared or VPS hosting, which allows your website room to grow without the need to change hosting providers. For example: if you write an article that goes viral all over social media for a day or two, you would probably be in trouble on a shared or VPS package because of the spike in traffic. But with cloud hosting, your website can take the hit for a few days until that viral traffic subsides and you won’t have to change hosts. You will be charged for whatever extra resources you used in those few days that your website was more popular than usual, but the cost would be lower than that of a brand new server somewhere else.
As the name suggests, a reseller package is for those that wish to setup their own hosting business and sell to others. This allows you to get in to business without investing in all of the infrastructure that generally comes along with hosting. For example: if you own a graphic design business and would like to make some extra cash by offering hosting to your clients, you can do that with a reseller account.
These are some of the most common types of hosting packages available now, but it is impossible to say which one would be better for you without knowing the needs of your business or other project. If in doubt, start fairly small and then work your way up when you see how much traffic comes in.