With hundreds and hundreds of web companies competing for your business with thousands of different web hosting plans, things can get pretty confusing pretty quickly. Add to that all of the "technical geek" terms like bandwidth, GB, and DNS and it's easy to see how someone who just wants to start an online business and make money online can get easily discouraged.
As your online business grows, your Web hosting needs will increase and become more complex. Free and inexpensive web hosting plans may have been fine in the startup phase of your online business, but if your website is starting to feel sluggish as it continues to grow and you get more website traffic, you may need to start looking at beefing up your Web server.
Think of this list as the progression of the type of hosting plans and services a growing online business can consider. With that said, let's talk a look at the most common types of web hosting plans and determine which one would best serve the needs of your business; whether you are just starting an online business or looking to take your online venture to the next level.
Shared Web Hosting
Shared hosting means just that. Your website is hosted on a server shared by other websites. The advantage of this setup is the shared cost. You can pay as little as $5 to $10 per month for sharing a super server with (probably) hundreds (or thousands) of other websites.
The biggest disadvantage of a shared hosting account is that you're at the mercy of the other sites on your server. A really popular site may adversely affect the performance of your own site. On the other hand, if you're the most popular site on the server, you get to use a super server for a very low price.
When most people start an online business they usually start out with a shared hosting plan to minimize costs, and they're not likely getting a ton of traffic initially.
Shared hosting is good for a brochure type site or a newer site that doesn't get a lot of traffic.
Price Range: $5 to $20/month.
Bluehost is a popular shared web hosting option.
Reseller Web Hosting
Reseller hosting packages are basically a shared hosting account with extra tools to help you resell hosting space.
Reseller packages come with greater technical control (often via the Web Host Manager (WHM) control panel), billing software to help you invoice clients and other extra perks.
Some of those perks include:
- free website templates
- white label technical support -- that means the hosting company handles your clients' tech support issues
- private name servers -- make your company seem even bigger by telling your clients to point their domain name servers to ns1.yourwebdesignfirm.com
Price range: Reseller packages range from $15 to $50, depending on features and resource limits.
If you're planning on selling web hosting as a business then reseller web hosting is perfect for you. Otherwise, just stick with a shared hosting plan if you're just starting out.
Also, if you're interested in making money as a web hosting affiliate you'll want to check out this article on how to make money with affiliate marketing.
Cloud Based Web Hosting
Cloud Based Web Hosting refers to a fairly new hosting technology that lets hundreds of individual servers work together so that it looks like one giant server. The idea is that as the need grows, the hosting company can just add more commodity hardware to make an ever larger grid or cloud.
The advantage of cloud-based web hosting is that if you get an unusually large amount of website traffic the web hosting plan can accommodate the surge of traffic - rather than shutting your website down.
If your website is growing and you're driving more traffic to your website, this is probably the first point you would upgrade too from a shared hosting plan.
Price Range: All grid computing packages use some form of the pay-for-what-you-use pricing structure.
See Also: iPage Web Hosting Review
Virtual Private Server (VPS)
Virtual private servers share one physical server but act like multiple, separate servers. A VPS is a stepping stone between shared hosting and getting your own dedicated machine. Even though each VPS instance shares hardware resources, they are allocated a dedicated slice of the computing resources.
A VPS avoids the problem of having your hosting neighbors bring down your website, while avoiding the cost of a dedicated server.
Price Range: Most VPS hosting packages cost between $50 and $200. Pricing is based on the guaranteed CPU and memory (RAM) you get.
See Also: Namecheap Web Hosting Review
Dedicated Web Server
When you have a dedicated server, it means you are renting one physical server from a hosting company. You can have full control (called "root" permissions in Linux) if you want it.
With a dedicated server, you don't have to worry about other websites on a shared server taking up your resources and slowing your website down.
A dedicated server is generally the highest level of server you would need if your online business grows into a presence that is getting a lot of website traffic. While the costs of a dedicated server are significantly higher than shared hosting, your business will be at a point that can easily afford the necessary costs of having your own server.
Pricing: Dedicated servers are priced from $100 and up. But if you are considering a dedicated server, you should also consider the costs of hiring a system administrator to take care of the technical details.
See Also: GoDaddy Web Hosting Review
Colocation Web Hosting
When you colocate, you rent rack space from a data center. You bring in your own server hardware and they provide power, cooling, physical security, and an internet uplink. This means you're responsible for your own server software, data storage, backup procedures, etc. If hardware fails, you're responsible for replacing it and getting the server back up and running.
Unless you have the technical know-how in-house, colocation is probably not worth the investment in time, expertise, and money for most small businesses.
Self Service Web Hosting
The ultimate hosting plan -- you do it all yourself! You buy the servers, install and configure the software, make sure there are sufficient cooling and power in your machine room, and double up everything for redundancy. Some of the things you'll have to take care of:
- data center space
- power (with backup)
- server hardware
- systems administrator
- data integrity and backup
- ... and the list goes on
Similar to colocation web hosting, this most likely beyond the scope of what you'd want to do as an online business owner.
Managed WordPress Hosting
With the increasing popularity of WordPress as a web building platform, many web hosting servers are offering what are referred to as "Managed WordPress Hosting.
In a nutshell, managed WordPress hosting is a service where the web hosting provider will keep your WordPress installation up-to-date which can help protect your site from security threats that would allow hackers into your website.
While not as inexpensive as shared web hosting, this is a great option for both start-up businesses and established businesses that use the WordPress platform.