Which Type of Web Hosting Is Right for Your Business?

Business.com / Technology / Last Modified: February 22, 2017

What's the difference between shared, cloud and dedicated hosting? Choose the most effective hosting solution for your business website.

We all know we need websites to promote our businesses, but we may not understand the technical components involved. For example, for your website to live on the web, you need a domain name (i.e. yourwebsite.com) as well as web hosting (the storage space that hosts the files for your website and makes the accessible online).

Choosing a domain name is a simple enough concept to grasp, but how do you go about deciding what type of web hosting you need? Some of the questions you'll want to answer include:

  • What will allow the quickest access to my website for my customers?
  • What will be most efficient for me and my employees to use?
  • What will be most stable and avoid crashes?
  • What will be most secure?
  • How can I attain the most flexibility overall?

These are all important ideas to consider when choosing between various web hosting options. Today, we'll cover the main differences between three popular options for businesses: shared hosting, cloud hosting and dedicated server hosting.

Shared Hosting

Quick definition: Your website will share a single server along with many other websites. Everything on this single server is shared, including RAM and CPU.

Ideal for... small businesses or new websites with relatively minimal web traffic. Shared hosting offers the best bang for your buck when you're just starting out creating your online presence. The main advantage is that your company does not need to maintain the server. This means no knowledge of server code and operating systems is required. Also, shared hosting is always the least expensive option and can save your business money when you're just starting out.

With most web hosts, you can download and install applications like WordPress, Drupal and Joomla to help you create your website and manage the content.

Cloud Hosting 

Quick definition: Your website is managed by a cluster of servers that forms the "cloud."

Ideal for... businesses experiencing rapid growth. You can scale your resources to accommodate your growing traffic, or during expected spikes such as sales or special promotions. As with shared hosting, the servers are maintained for you, so you and your employees do not need to have knowledge of server maintenance language like Linux. Also, with cloud hosting, server speeds are faster than with shared hosting because there is more bandwidth available to you. 

Cloud hosting has the general advantage of being able to grow with your company, whereas with shared hosting, you may eventually outgrow your server. With the right web host, your website could function twice as quickly as with your average shared hosting plan. This is due to efficient server allocation and cloud management cloud servers that are low density, as well as top-of-the-line hardware and multiple caching levels. 

Dedicated Server Hosting 

Quick definition: Yours is the only website operating from the server, and your website runs exclusively through that server.

Ideal for... large businesses that see a lot of web traffic. Dedicated servers mean just that — the server is dedicated to your website, so you're not sharing resources with other websites.

The main benefit of the dedicated server is that you have complete control over your server, including its operating system and hardware. This also means that you or one of your employees must have the ability to maintain the server, usually through Linux. Dedicated servers are significantly more expensive than shared servers or cloud servers, but if your business requires this level of web hosting, then the dedicated server is well worth the money. With a dedicated server, your options are virtually unlimited — you choose your own configuration and install all your own software. You can enjoy maximum safety and privacy with multiple layers of network security.

As you can see, there is a wide range of options to choose from when selecting your web hosting plan. To summarize:

  • Shared hosting is great for any small business and includes all features necessary to run your website effectively and efficiently.
  • Cloud hosting is appropriate for rapidly growing businesses since the cloud servers can easily allow your website to grow with your company.
  • Dedicated hosting is terrific for large businesses and businesses that see a lot of web traffic.

Regardless of the web host you choose, you'll have the ability to access your cPanel, design the look and feel of your site and create and post new content. You can also purchase upgrades like SSL certificates, SEO or design services and malware protection.

If you're having trouble weighing your options, choose a web host first and then talk with their sales team to figure out the best solution.

Photo credit: shutterstock.com/g/antonioguillem

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