One very important thing you should be aware of when selecting your hosting plan is whether or not it is a dedicated server or a shared server. For a hobbyist website, it’s not likely that you will need a dedicated server unless you expect an immense amount of traffic. Conversely, for a professionally designed business website, it’s not always necessary to run out and rent a dedicated server. Let’s examine the differences between dedicated and shared hosting.
Shared hosting plans
A shared hosting plan is one where there are several different customers using the same server, a computer which is dedicated to processing and delivering information to those viewing a website. You are sharing the processing power and bandwidth capabilities of that server. If the other customers see a sudden spike in traffic to their websites, access to your website may be slower than usual. Also, the access restrictions on your account are likely to be much higher as the hosting company doesn’t want the server to fail and cause problems for multiple customers.
There are definite advantages to shared hosting plans, though. For certain types of websites, it’s a cost-effective way to obtain the space and bandwidth you need. Many websites don’t need a dedicated server’s features, and the features become superfluous additions to the bill.
Dedicated server hosting plans
With a dedicated server, you can meet the needs of your website as it grows without having to juggle plans or have downtime. The only things hosted on your dedicated server are the things you put on there, and you can customize the features of the server to fit your specifications. The downside to this, of course, is that it is much more expensive to use a dedicated server. You may also be responsible for repair, maintenance, and replacement parts costs for that server depending on the service you use.
Dedicated servers are for those who have extremely high bandwidth and space requirements, and they are often in a position where the cost of the server is offset by the profit from the website. If you’re just starting out, you should use a shared server until you are sure about the requirements of your website and the potential visitor counts. Later, you can move to a dedicated server when the money is available. That will minimize the cost while giving you the freedom you need as your website grows.
VPS – the middle ground
A third option is to use a virtual private server (VPS) to meet in the middle of those two. A VPS is like a shared hosting account in that you share a physical server with other users, but it acts as if it were an independent machine with its own operating system. It’s certainly an option if you’re on the border between a shared hosting plan and a dedicated server.
This is a guest post by Roko Nastic of WebmasterFormat.com.