When it comes to web hosting, there are tons of options at your disposal. Not only are there thousands of web hosts to choose from, but there is also a selection of different web hosting solutions available. Choosing the right hosting solution for your website is incredibly important as it can drastically influence how well your site performs and choosing the wrong one can cause you a handful of problems down the road.
The web hosting solution that’s right for you depends on various factors including your level of technical knowledge, budget size, and the purpose of your website. Larger websites with an eCommerce presence will require a higher number of resources compared to smaller sites and will likely have to deal with sudden traffic surges. If this is the case for you then you’ll need to ensure that you choose a hosting solution that can withstand an influx of visitors and provide you with enough resources to run your website. On the other hand, if you have a smaller site then you won’t want to waste money on resources that your website will never use. You may also have a smaller budget which means a certain hosting solution will suit you better.
We understand that it can be confusing and frustrating to differentiate the various types of web hosting solutions. So, we’ve broken down the different types of web hosting solutions in a comprehensible guide that shows you the pros and cons of each option as well as which users they are best suited for.
Different types of web hosting solutions quick guide
- Shared Hosting – Affordable and ideal for smaller websites
- Dedicated Hosting – Flexible and best suited to high-traffic websites
- VPS hosting – Highly scalable and great for medium-sized websites
- Cloud hosting – Versatile and perfect for fast-growing websites
The different types of web hosting solutions and which users they’re best suited for
We laid out the most popular web hosting solutions and have highlighted their individual advantages and disadvantages. We’ve also included the types of users and businesses that are best suited to each solution so you have a better idea of which form of web hosting is the best fit for your website.
With shared hosting, your website shares resources with other sites on a single server. Since multiple websites share the same server, hosting providers can offer much cheaper plans, making shared hosting a highly affordable solution. Shared hosting is easy to set up and also takes away some of the stress as your web host will usually be in charge of any hardware administration and maintenance.
One drawback of shared hosting is that you have significantly less flexibility than with other hosting solutions. With shared hosting, you also don’t have root access control, meaning that you cannot modify any files or perform other admin tasks. Additionally, with shared hosting you may sometimes experience subpar performance due to the ‘bad neighbor effect’. The ‘bad neighbor effect’ refers to when one website that you share your server with is using up too many resources and draws them away from your own site.
For example, if a website experiences a large traffic spike and needs more resources to withstand the influx of visitors, then your own resources can be depleted. So, if one website is abusing its resources then it can negatively impact the performance and speed of your site. Your visitors may have to face slow page loading speeds and in extreme cases, your website can become completely inaccessible for a period of time. This is a common issue for shared hosting plans and can happen without warning.
Despite this, shared hosting is still a hugely popular web hosting solution due to its extreme low cost and often “unlimited” resources. Shared web hosting plans also often come with a great set of additional features including free SSL, automated tools, email accounts, and 24/7 customer support.
Best suited for:
Since shared hosting is the cheapest web hosting solution available, it will appeal most to smaller-sized businesses and single-user blogs. Additionally, shared hosting plans are fully managed by the web host which means that you won’t have responsibility for admin and maintenance tasks. This makes shared hosting ideal for entry-level users that have minimal technical knowledge. Overall, if you want to host a small, cost-effective website without needing to deal with the hassle of site management, then shared web hosting is best suited to you.
A shared hosting plan that we recommend:
If you think your site will be best suited to shared hosting then we suggest one of Hostgator’s shared hosting plans. Their mid-tier plan gives you unmetered bandwidth, free SSL, automated backups, one-year free domain name registration, and the option to host an unlimited number of websites. Hostgator has a 99% uptime guarantee so you can be sure that your website experiences minimal interruptions and their security tool, SiteLock, can keep your site safe from malicious attacks such as malware.
Alternatively, you can read our full list of the best shared hosting plans in 2022.
Dedicated hosting is when a single physical server is dedicated to your website. This hosting solution is much more expensive than other plans, however, it offers much more flexibility and a higher level of performance overall, making it a very popular choice among larger businesses..
All dedicated servers are completely isolated so you can configure your server in any way without having it affect any other user’s website. And, unlike with shared hosting, with dedicated hosting, you won’t have to worry about another website abusing their resources and negatively impacting your own site’s performance.
Dedicated hosting also leaves you with much more responsibility than with shared hosting. It’s completely down to you to allocate resources, install software, perform backups, and configure security protocols such as firewalls and SSL certificates. However, this does also mean that you have a higher degree of privacy and confidentiality.
Overall, with dedicated hosting, you can expect faster speeds, a higher uptime (~99.99%), and more stability compared to shared hosting. This all comes at a cost that may be too high for smaller companies, however, with a dedicated server you can expect exceptional performance, making it a very good choice for mid-large businesses.
Best suited for:
Dedicated hosting is best suited for high-traffic websites as you can more easily allocate a large number of resources to handle an influx of visitors. As it is more expensive than other hosting solutions, it’s a better fit for larger businesses that have an eCommerce website in mind or expect their website presence to grow significantly over time.
As with dedicated hosting, you need to install, configure, and manage your server alone, so a level of prior technical knowledge is required. Dedicated hosting can also be very time-consuming so it’s best suited to businesses with larger teams available.
A dedicated hosting plan that we recommend:
If you’re interested in dedicated hosting then we recommend Bluehost’s cost-effective dedicated server hosting plans. The standard plan provides you with 4 GB RAM, 4 CPU cores, 5 TB network bandwidth, 3 dedicated IPs, free SSL, and free one-year domain name registration. With Bluehost’s dedicated hosting, you’ll have access to cPanel and more advanced users can make use of the optional full root access control.
If you’re still unsure, then you can check out our full list of the best dedicated hosting plans in 2021.
Virtual Private Server (VPS) hosting is where you receive dedicated resources under a virtual server. With VPS hosting, a single physical machine will run multiple virtual servers that are all completely isolated from one another. Similar to dedicated hosting, with VPS hosting you don’t have to share your resources with any other websites and you don’t have to worry about other websites abusing their resources and impacting your own site’s performance.
VPS hosting is less expensive than dedicated hosting and there is much more flexibility when it comes to choosing a plan. With VPS hosting, it’s easy to acquire on-demand resources and scale up your plan on the go. Since you’re using a virtual server, your website also won’t ever have to experience any downtime if you choose to upgrade or downgrade your hosting plan.
With VPS hosting you also get the choice between managed and unmanaged plans. With unmanaged VPS hosting, you’ll have full root access, meaning that you have the freedom to perform admin tasks as well as configure your server however you want. Alternatively, managed VPS hosting takes much of the hassle away from web hosting as your provider will largely be reasonable for the set-up and maintenance of your server.
Best suited for:
VPS hosting is a mid-tier hosting solution that is highly scalable, reliable, and affordable. This hosting solution offers users much more control than shared hosting and also provides a higher level of security. It’s also less expensive than dedicated hosting, making it a fantastic choice for businesses that are looking for a great value-for-money hosting solution. If you have a medium to large website but dedicated hosting exceeds your budget, then VPS hosting is likely your best bet.
You can also read more on the best Linux VPS hosting providers in 2021.
A VPS hosting plan that we recommend:
For VPS hosting, we highly recommended A2 Hosting’s managed or unmanaged VPS plans. For full control at a cheaper cost, the unmanaged plans allow you to allocate resources and install any software packages you want. A2 Hosting’s unmanaged VPS plans provide you with between 1 – 32 GB RAM, 1 – 8 CPU cores, 150 – 450 GB SSD storage, and full root access control.
Alternatively, the managed hosting plans are more expensive but with these, A2 Hosting will provide you with 24/7 support and will take care of all maintenance, security, and performance tasks. A2 Hosting’s managed VPS hosting plans give you between 4 – 32 GB RAM, 2 – 8 CPU cores, 150 – 450 SSD storage, free SSL, and up to 5 cPanel accounts.
Cloud hosting is a network and server infrastructure where one physical server is spread across various virtual servers. This is a less traditional hosting solution that is quickly gaining traction in the hosting community due to its ease of scalability, reliability, and performance.
Since with cloud hosting, data is stored across multiple servers, it’s more reliable compared to other solutions such as VPS hosting. If one server happens to go offline then the others can make up for it, so your website won’t experience any downtime. This also makes cloud hosting easily scalable, meaning that you can add or remove resources at a moment’s notice without having your entire website go down.
As well as a stable uptime, with cloud hosting, you can expect super-fast speeds and overall fantastic performance. Since your website will be running across multiple servers, no single one will ever be strained or overloaded. This is largely what distinguishes cloud hosting from other web hosting solutions.
Cloud hosting is also highly flexible when it comes to pricing. Usually, with cloud hosting you only pay for resources that you use, so you don’t have to worry about wasting money on unused resources. Additionally, cloud hosting is highly versatile and you can often create a custom plan that perfectly matches the number of resources your website requires.
Best suited for:
Cloud hosting is a premium solution that’s best suited for fast-growing businesses and websites that expect sudden traffic spikes. Cloud hosting is also an ideal choice for eCommerce websites and users who want full control over their servers. Although cloud hosting tends to be more expensive, the ability to pay for only the resources that you use makes this solution a moderately-priced option. Overall, if you’re looking for optimal performance, flexibility, and scalability, then cloud hosting is best suited to you.
A cloud hosting plan that we recommend:
If you’re interested in cloud hosting for your website then we recommended SiteGround’s scalable cloud hosting plans. With SiteGround, you can either choose from one of the four available plans or configure your own. The custom slider allows you to select how much RAM, SSD storage, and CPU cores you require for your website. Additionally, you can enable SiteGround’s auto-scale option that can prevent downtime and slow speeds during unexpected traffic spikes.