This is the first 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.
When most people think of building a website, they focus on design and content. Some may already have a platform or CMS preference. Hosting options for a website is typically considered last and often as a secondary point, once design, content and platform have been decided.
The vital role of web hosting won’t be evident until the website is up and running. Or down and inaccessible.
Web hosting options are not just a matter of price, bandwidth and storage. The framework of your website and responsibility for issues are determined by the type of hosting that you choose. In many ways, hosting sets the limits of what you can do on your website for now and influences future development. Some types of hosting provide full access while others limit the extensions and plugins that you can use on your site.
One of the very first steps in choosing your hosting plan is deciding how you would like to run your website. Do you need free access to your server? Do you have the skills to set up, maintain and troubleshoot your system? Do you have the time? The answers to these questions will indicate whether a managed or unmanaged hosting service is best for you and your business.
- Pre-installed operating system only; applications and software are installed by the customer
- No routine support included in the plan; main role of host is to make sure the server is available
- Full access to the server and its components
- Requires IT skills for regular maintenance, server monitoring and backup
- Pre-installed operating system, applications and other software
- Support, maintenance and backup included in the hosting package
- Limited access to the server through the website directory and applications
- Requires skills in using the installed applications only
Unmanaged hosting providers make sure that the server is available. You are given all levels of access because you are responsible for maintenance, upgrades, and installation of software. Security patches, error messages and backups are your responsibility. It’s quite similar to maintaining your own server but in a web hosting environment. Unmanaged hosting is typically cheaper than managed solutions.
So, if you can maintain your own server, apply security patches remotely and want to have full access, then an unmanaged hosting plan can be the right choice for you. Still, there is a question of whether the difference in price is worth the extra work you need to put in.
Managed hosting typically includes support for regular tasks and problems on the server. The operating system, server set up, security patches and pre-installed applications are managed by the host. Managed hosting plans include automated backup and monitoring and may offer extended support for a fee.
Clearly, managed hosting works best when you don’t have the necessary expertise in server maintenance and troubleshooting. There are different levels of support, access and controls available with managed hosting, depending on the type of hosting service you choose. Because the support is built into the hosting plan, the cost is typically higher than an unmanaged server with the same specifications.
But even when you have the expertise, managed hosting is a good option when your time is better spent focusing on your business. And if you target business growth through your website, then it only makes sense to be ready for any eventuality.
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