We hear this a lot at Momentum Studio, it’s a great question. What is the difference in hosting and why do they have wildly different pricing?
In this post, we’re going to explore the differences between the common hosting phrases used online and when you would need that specific hosting options. Obviously, these options have very differing pros and cons so I will provide a pros and cons table for you to see for yourself.
The most common and cheapest option is Shared Hosting. Shared Hosting literally means that your website will share a server with many other websites. This keeps down costs and gets you the best deals (see our shared hosting).
The first pro is the fact that Shared Hosting is really cheap, which is good if you’re just starting out or only have a basic website to host. Most web hosting providers can offer a lot of storage space and benefits for as little as £1.50 a month! Which is amazingly cheap.
The second pro is that most Shared Hosting comes with an easy to use control panel. We use cPanel, which is the market leading control panel worldwide at this present moment. cPanel makes it really easy for you to manage your website without any coding knowledge. You get your own control panel login and your own area for you to manage things like files, DNS settings, FTP details and more.
The third pro is that Shared Hosting usually comes with email hosting, meaning you don’t need to find another provider to handle your business email. With our shared hosting, cPanel provides an easy way to manage email addresses, forwarders, catch-all addresses and autoresponders.
The last pro we found was that Shared Hosting normally comes with included support. With us here, we support all of our Shared Hosting customers via the Client Area or by phone free of charge. We’re also located in the UK.
The first con is the fact that the server your website is on, is shared with other websites. Other websites may be abusing their hosting or doing some really intensive tasks that can slow everyone down. If you find your shared hosting at your existing host keeps on slowing down or dropping off, it might be because of another customer on the same server abusing their hosting platform. At Momentum Studio, we have monitors in place to detect this behaviour and if it does trigger, we suspend accounts or temporarily move them to a private server and contact the customer who owns the site. We don’t tolerate this on our platform as it isn’t fair to our other customers.
The second con is that you can’t run custom software. cPanel (and other shared control panels) are built to run PHP based websites. This means any custom software you want to run won’t run in this environment. We do offer SSH access upon request (so you can run Linux commands on shared hosting) but shared hosting is not built to run custom software.
The third con is that your website is only running on one server, if it goes down then your website will be offline to your customers.
Dedicated Server Hosting
Dedicated Server Hosting is hosting where you own the bare metal of the machine. What we mean by this, is that you own the actual hardware server and of course, this involves a lot of system administration. This option is good if you want to run custom software and want a bit more power and privacy than Cloud Hosting. Sometimes, you never actually see the bare metal and therefore rent it from your service provider. We offer Dedicated Hosting at request and after we believe that the customer genuinely needs it.
The first is the privacy. the server is 100% yours, not shared with anyone else and has its own public IP address. This means that you can run whatever you like on it, your service provider only has to keep it online and connected to the internet for you.
The second is the sheer power you can get, you can get a server with absolutely massive amounts of power. Since its mostly the same components as Desktop PCs, you can go up to insane amounts of hardware specs for a fixed monthly rental price.
Since the server is 100% yours, you usually have to manage it yourself or pay an extortionate monthly fee for your service provider to manage it for you. This is what puts a lot of people off this option since it is your fault for any software issues.
Another con is the price. Dedicated servers are very very expensive and really are only for hardcore customers who actually need them. If you’re running a basic WordPress site on Dedicated hosting, you could be wasting a lot of money. There is an option to decrease the price by opting for Colocation. This means you build and install your server at your premises and then ship it to your service provider. Your service provider then just has to plug it all in and switch it on. This means you can fully customise the hardware and get the best deals without your service provider’s markup.
Once it’s built, its hard to scale. If your site suddenly gets a lot of hits and you’re reaching the limits of the server, you can’t scale it up. You have to physically take the server apart to make it bigger.
Cloud / VPS Hosting
Now I bet you’re wondering why I went from the cheapest right up to the most expensive option in this article? Well the reason is this option, this is the middle-ground of both the options above.
VPS stands for ‘Virtual Private Server’, you will however often see this advertised as ‘Cloud Hosting’ (like we do). These terms are both the same. What this means is, you get your own private server which is 100% yours but its virtual. This means you don’t have to deal with the bare metal at all, your server is actually a virtual machine, a server inside of a server if you will. This option is pretty new because of the advent of Virtualisation in the past 5 or 10 years.
This means you get to run your own software. Again, it is still your responsibility but the price is massively cheaper. This is because the bare metal will host probably around 50 cloud hosting servers since they are virtual.
Cloud Hosting gives you the freedom of running your own software without the hardware or cost burden, this is a perfect solution for the slightly bigger site or custom software. We recommend this option over the Dedicated Server offerings.
Another pro is the fact that you can scale. This means that if your server does get a bit busy, with a couple of clicks you can increase the size and power of the server, without needing to move from your chair! Since the server is virtual, it’ll just take a bigger slice of the bare metal pie when scaling it up.
Again you can scale up pretty high with Cloud Hosting to give yourself a very beefy server, plus its completely private!
As we’ve said before, your site is again only running on one server. Meaning if you make a software mistake or server administration error, your site will go down to customers. You need to make sure you know what you’re doing with a Cloud server or pay for someone else to manage it for you. We offer a management service for Cloud servers if needed.
If you don’t opt for managed support, you are solely responsible for the software portion of your server and upkeep of it. The service provider is only liable for the server being online from a hardware point of view.
Reseller Hosting is in the same vein as the Shared Hosting. Reseller Hosting is bascially identical to Shared Hosting except you can create multiple cPanel (or other control panel) accounts from a central management interface. This is what most web hosts (including us) do to easily provide a basic level of hosting to their customers.
The pros and cons are identical to the Shared Hosting.
High Availability is a server setup for high-traffic websites. The idea is to ensure the site never ever goes down and can scale up or down automatically. To achieve this, Cloud Hosting is used with some automated tools and a load balancer.
A load balancer takes your website traffic and distributes it amongst multiple Cloud servers, this means if one of your servers does go down then the load balancer automatically moves your customers to another working server. You need to have 2 or more servers behind a load balancer for this to work.
In a High Availability setup, you cannot have any portion of your service only running on one server, they must all be running on 2 or more. Your database must be running on more than 1 server, meaning we must use replication.
High Availability is a very complex setup that requires planning and monitoring for it to work successfully. Big companies such as Google, Facebook and Netflix all use High Availability to achieve 99.99% uptimes of their services.
At Momentum Studio, we can setup High Availability setups for you and guide you into creating a service that very very rarely goes down. For this, we need planning discussions with you and an idea of why your website or application requires this setup.
The pros and cons are the same as Cloud Hosting however your service should never go down, since your servers will be in separate countries ready to take on traffic. Costs will be higher as you’ll need multiple Cloud servers to achieve this.
I hope this post has been useful in showing you the different hosting options available to you. Servers are an enigma but luckily we are here to help, no matter what kind of setup you are running for your business. If its a new site that won’t get a lot of traffic, we recommend the Shared Hosting. If its something custom, we recommend Cloud Hosting and if it has very high traffic, we recommend a High Availability setup. We don’t recommend Dedicated Hosting because of a number of problems with scaling.
Please feel free to leave a comment below with your questions and we’ll be sure to answer them.