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Know Your Hosting

The company that I work for was acquired by The Planet yesterday, so I thought it would be a good time to talk about different web hosting options. There’s a lot of tech-lingo that’s tossed around when talking about web hosting, and some people don’t seem to understand the differences. Today, I thought I’d go over a few of the many types of hosting, and what to expect from them.

Shared Hosting

This is the most basic (and usually cheapest) kind of web hosting. Shared hosting is just like it sounds: Your website is hosted on a shared server with dozens, even hundreds of other sites. Shared hosting is fine for sites that don’t require a lot of system resources, or for people just getting started online. The downside of shared hosting is that sometimes the other people on the server don’t like to share. Their sites will eat up all the bandwidth/CPU time/memory, and your site is stuck with whatever is left. If you can, always check to see what kind of load your server experiences. For a single-processor system, a load below 1 is ideal. For a dual-processor (or core) system, below 2 is good (and so on and so forth). I’ve seen some shared hosting servers sit at 20+ load all day, and that equals slow load times and 404s. If you’re on a server like that, it’s time to change hosts.

VPS

A VPS, or virtual private server, is a step up from shared hosting. With a VPS, you’re given your own separate sever environment and a set amount of system resources, and they’re all yours to use. The thing is, it’s still not 100% dedicated. Your VPS is still sharing one physical server with several other VPSs, although the resource management rules set in place make it difficult for the other virtual servers to effect yours. A VPS is an ideal choice for someone who has dozens of websites, or a few websites that consume a significant amount of system resources (huge databases, memory-intensive applications, etc).

Dedicated Hosting

You get your own physical server. It’s all yours. There really isn’t much to explain. Dedicated hosting is the most expensive of the three options, but then again, you can do whatever you want with your sever. Dedicated is ideal for people who have tons of sites, sites that get a lot of traffic, people who want to run dedicated game servers, or people who want to start their own web hosting company. Basically, people who want to do whatever they want.

One thing to look out for with dedicated is that it usually comes in two flavors: managed and unmanaged. With an unmanaged server, it’s up to you to keep it online and working properly. If it goes down, you’re stuck waiting until a datacenter tech fixes it. With a managed server, you have one or more admins watching it 24×7 to make sure nothing goes wrong, and when something does go wrong, they leap into action to correct the problem. Obviously, managed servers tend to be more expensive than their unmanaged counterparts, but the uptime is usually worth it.

Clearing things up

I hope this article gave you guys a basic understanding of how hosting works. Nothing irks me more than people who think that each website gets its own individual server (yes, there are lots of them). Educate yourself and avoid pissing off your techs.

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2 Responses to “Know Your Hosting”

  1. Matt Says:

    Good post. And once you know which type of hosting you need, you still need to do even more research. You need to find a good company.

    For example, I have had nothing but problems with 3 dedicated servers from The Planet over the last year. The Planet is growing too fast as a company in my opinion, and their support is going to shit. Anyone looking to get a dedi, I recommend serverbeach or spry.

  2. Rajaie AlKorani Says:

    I never knew what VPS was, thanks for clearing that up :-)
    I would recommend Doreo Webhosting for your hosting needs. I just started using them a couple of days ago and they have proven to be very good.

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