This is the second in a series of articles about choosing the right hosting for your business. With so many hosting options and all the technical terms involved, it can be a daunting task. In this series, we look at the various types of web hosting from the perspective of running a business and go beyond the mix of price, storage and bandwidth.
For entrepreneurs and small businesses, there are several concrete reasons in favor of choosing a managed hosting solution.
- Managed hosting gives your small business a virtual IT department that has the skills to update, maintain and troubleshoot your system. While you may have IT expertise in your team, one person’s skills cannot be matched to a full team of specialized professionals who do this every day.
- The higher price of managed hosting is a fraction of the cost of hiring a systems administrator who may not have all the skills needed for the applications running on your server. And while some freelance rates look attractive, the rates for certified experts are in the $55 to $90 per hour range.
- Even if you had the time to maintain the servers yourself, that’s still time away from growing your business. You will need to make yourself available to resolve issues when they happen which won’t always be possible.
Once you do decide on a managed hosting service for your business website, you need to make sure the host provides the features and support that you need. Make sure that the options needed for your business are covered by your host or available as an extended service at a reasonable price. In addition to bandwidth and storage, several other hosting features will depend on the type of managed hosting service you choose.
Not all managed hosting plans are created equal, and that becomes clearer when we look at the types of managed hosting that are available on the market today.
Shared hosting, as the name suggests, runs your site on a server that also hosts other websites.
It’s like living in a fully furnished condominium. You have your own space. You can reorganize and personalize the interior to a certain degree. And while you don’t share living area with your neighbors, you do occasionally see each other at the lobby or at the elevator. But despite the feeling of privacy, a water leak or a big party in one of the other units easily affects your home as well as many others.
When you share a server, the performance of your website can be affected other sites in the same environment. High traffic or spam from a neighbor can slow down the server or worse, make it crash. While there are many ways to secure a shared server, it will never be as secure as a private or dedicated host. Shared hosting also usually comes with the most limitation on what you can do with your website, with restrictions on plugins, extensions and add-ons that can be installed.
Despite that, shared hosting remains a very popular option. It’s economical and easy to use. For many new businesses, it will make sense to go for the lowest priced hosting service. This can certainly be cost efficient until you have to hire someone to troubleshoot or migrate your growing website. If you factor in the cost of a one-day downtime, then an online business that earns $10,000 per month easily loses more than $300 of opportunity per day.
Virtual Private Hosting
Virtual private hosting is basically a server inside a server. Made possible by virtualization, resources are allocated per virtual server. Your website is guaranteed bandwidth even if a high traffic website is running on the same host. The allocated computing power and storage are for your website alone. It’s like a dedicated server in many ways but at a much lower cost.
Virtual hosting is similar to living in a row of town homes. Everyone has their own main entrance, garden and an adjacent parking space. It’s like living in a single free-standing home except that the units are connected. There are no shared elevators or common hallways. You will typically have more space for big parties and a burst pipe at the neighbor’s house won’t affect your water supply.
With virtual hosting, you enjoy most of the advantages of dedicated hosting at the price of a shared hosting business plan. Your hosting plan includes private storage, a dedicated database and a dedicated IP. You don’t share the same operating system with other websites. Virtual hosting translates to more power, security, flexibility and performance than shared hosting for your growing website.
Dedicated hosting servers are often the fastest and most powerful choices available. You have full access to your server and fully dedicated resources, which means more control and higher computing power.
Going back to our analogy, dedicated hosting is much like owning your own single detached home. You can change the fence, allocate several parking areas and still have more than enough space for your pets to run in the backyard. You won’t even know if the neighbors have any kind of plumbing trouble. And there’s more than enough room for everyone to have a party, even on the same day.
The power and exclusivity of a dedicated server is attractive but it comes at a price easily 5 times that of a virtual hosting service. While a dedicated hosting plan is ideal for high traffic sites with CPU intensive applications like those used for gaming, most websites won’t need this level of performance. Unless your business requires extreme security and precise control on your hosting configuration, the significantly higher costs of a dedicated hosting service are not easily justified.
Making the Choice for your Business
Many choose to start their website on shared hosting but it’s best to start by evaluating what your business needs.
Shared hosting works well when availability and performance are not critical to your website. For small websites and personal blogs, it is a cost effective and convenient means to establish an online presence.
If you plan to make money through your site, or use it a tool for marketing, then virtual hosting is a much better choice. In addition to website design, the speed, reliability and overall performance of your site creates an online imprint with your customers.
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