Last Updated on November 20, 2021 by Andy Brooks
What Are The Different Types of Website Hosting?
There are many different types of web hosting options available today.
Hosting services are companies that rent out their IT facilities and resources to customers for various purposes instead of the customers having to spend vast amounts of money on those facilities.
In the 90s computer revolution fueled by the internet and multimedia (not social media), everyone still believed in the idea of having their information technology infrastructure.
Small and big businesses alike, down to individuals had their servers, hosted their enterprise software, databases, and websites.
This was the old way of doing things that followed the mainframe and dumb terminal model, of the 60s, 70s, and early 80s.
Different Types Of Web Hosting (Infographic)
Section #1 – The 4 Main Types
1. Shared Hosting
2. VPS Hosting
3. Dedicated Hosting
4. Cloud Hosting
Section #2 – Managed WordPress Hosting
Section #3 – Website Builders With Hosting
This was then followed by the client-server model where the dumb terminals were replaced by fully-capable computers that requested and sent data to and from one or several servers that performed various functions, mostly hosting large databases.
This still holds today for large and medium corporations that invested and continue to maintain their networks of computers and servers for various reasons.
This old model, however, demands enormous amounts of overhead cost in terms of maintenance, upgrades, and expansion that large corporations can only afford.
There are even large corporations, mostly banks and even government agencies that still rely on old technologies solely in terms of reliability and are limited from upgrading due to concerns of cost and security.
This is no longer a problem for newer companies, or old ones that decide to shed the older computer paradigm of self-hosting their databases, their applications, and their websites; thanks mainly to advances in internet technologies and the advent of virtualization.
Since the early 2000s, various types of hosting services have sprung up thanks to increasing internet speed and bandwidth.
This began with website hosting and file storage services. Instead of people and companies hosting their websites within their premises and spending vast amounts of cash on hardware and bandwidth, web hosting companies allow others to host their websites within large server farms.
This significantly cuts the cost of companies and individuals in setting up and maintaining their websites.
Now, hosting services are no longer limited to websites, but can encompass the entire IT infrastructure. With hosting services like Amazon Web Services and Microsoft Azure, companies no longer need to spend a fortune on IT hardware.
All they need is a set of computers and a reliable internet connection, and they’re in business. The money they would spend on their server hardware would be routed to other matters.
The 4 Main Types
Shared Web Hosting
Shared Hosting refers to several different websites residing on one web server of a hosting service. One web server allocates a certain amount of disk space, processing power, and memory as well as bandwidth to run a particular website.
Depending on how large and powerful the webserver is, it can host dozens of sites at once. Shared Web Hosting is considered the most economical option for both parties wherein a company or individual would only pay a few dollars of annually to run a website.
The hosting service only has to maintain one server for several customers, wherein profit becomes exponential with more customers. A2 Hosting offers shared hosting plans that are some of the fastest available today.
With shared hosting, server administration and maintenance are handled by the hosting service, freeing up the customer of the responsibilities and costs of having to do so. All the customers have to do is continue developing, customizing, and maintaining their websites.
Shared hosting services also offer email and webmail services, database hosting, which is required for certain websites as well as file storage. Shared hosting services are also responsible for the server’s operating system, web platform, security updates, and technical support.
As economical as this type of hosting is, customers, get what they pay for.
Shared hosting has certain limits depending on the package. In the early days, hosting services offered only a limited amount of bandwidth and data transfer for a certain period of time thus allowing websites to have only a certain number of visitors that period, say 100 visitors per day.
Though the amount of storage and bandwidth has undoubtedly grown, these limitations cannot apply to more large or fast-growing businesses.
There’s also the concern about limited control for customers, and in case they require something outside the purview of the hosting service. Shared web hosting is often used by blogs run by individuals or small businesses with landing pages.
This is another type of hosting service. VPS stands for Virtual Private Server, which is where virtualization technology comes in.
Thanks to virtualization technology, one or more virtual computers (virtual machines) with their own operating systems and allocated resources can run on one computer, or in this case a server.
This means several virtual servers can run simultaneously on one powerful server. This type of hosting service gives the customer greater freedom when it comes to choosing their preferred operating system and web platform.
They can have Windows, Linux, or FreeBSD as the operating system for their web server and can choose between ASP, Java, or PHP as their web platform. The customer has complete freedom (superuser access) on what they want to do with their virtual server (under the hosting service’s terms, of course).
The customer remains free from the responsibility of having to maintain physical hardware and internet connection as well as having to pay for the power.
Customers will have more control; however, certain limits such as allocated disk space, memory, and bandwidth for the virtual server may hamper more demanding requirements.
VPS hosting is for customers who want greater control over their websites and platforms and of course, can support higher traffic. A2 Hosting offers VPS hosting.
Dedicated Hosting Service
The dedicated hosting service, managed hosting service, or dedicated server involves one server or one physical machine that is leased by the customer and is not shared with others.
This means that all the server’s RAM, disk space, and processing power is at the customer’s disposal.
The customer has a say on the operating system, web development platform, and whatever type of security will run on the server. The customer also can choose the server hardware within limits allowed by the hosting service.
The only thing the customer has no full control of is the bandwidth, which is still quite substantial given this high level of hosting service. There’s also the advantage of almost zero connection downtime as the provider’s redundant internet connections handle the connection.
The dedicated server, of course, is still maintained and administered by the hosting service. Like a lease, the customer does not have to worry about the full overhead price of the server as well as the maintenance and workforce required for it.
Customers need not worry about the technical aspects of owning their servers, to ensure that the provider is on top of things though there are levels on how much the provider does in the background.
Though the customer is expected to be armed with knowledge about server technology depending on the package chosen.
Hosting services might offer different levels of dedicated hostings, such as:
Fully managed – monitoring, software, and security updates, operating system installation, and upgrades as well as reboots. Customers need only worry about their website or applications.
Managed – Customers are allowed to perform some tasks on their own while the hosting service can perform some monitoring and updates.
Self-Managed – The customer does most of the tasks and operations on the server. The hosting service does the maintenance.
Unmanaged – The hosting service has little involvement. The customer is in charge of operating system upgrades, security patches, and even maintenance.
Again, there are certain limits to these types of hosting services. With dedicated hosting, unless your plan comes with a redundant server, customers are at the mercy of their downtimes and maintenance schedules or even unfortunate events involving the service provider.
The dedicated server’s scalability also depends on the server itself and the costs of upgrade options the customer is willing to shell out. This is when we consider the last primary type of hosting service.
Cloud hosting could be considered similar to VPS hosting, where customers are given their servers but in virtualized environments. The difference is that the virtual servers are much more scalable.
With cloud hosting, individual servers can easily be configured to expand depending on the customer’s needs. Virtual servers can easily be created or taken down within minutes.
Depending on the requirements, cloud hosting can be considered more affordable than VPS or dedicated servers.
Technically, cloud hosting services have farms of physical servers clustered together as one significant resource. Customers can take what they need and use them as needed.
Famous examples of cloud hosting are Microsoft Azure and Amazon Web Services.
Like the previous hosting types, the provider is in charge of the physical maintenance of the hardware and the network. Cloud hosting packages are also very flexible in both scale and pricing.
One can be a customer of a cloud hosting service for just a few minutes or technically forever. Customers are charged with the time and resources they use.
There’s also the added benefit of added security and reliability as well as performance.
In case the physical machines are down in one location, the server/s can live on in another. Customers can also choose the closest location depending on their demographic or company location, thus benefiting speed and performance.
While cloud hosting sounds like the go-to solution for web hosting, one needs to keep in mind that all of the previously described hosting services continue to exist to provide for a specific need. One needs to analyze the project before choosing the appropriate hosting service.
Managed WordPress Hosting
And then, there’s Managed WordPress Hosting. WordPress is the world’s most popular web development platform based on the PHP scripting language and is used by over 60 million websites thanks to its ease of use and a high degree of customizability.
Therefore, WordPress is offered and supported by most web hosting services.
All the hosting options described above can be used to host WordPress-based websites. But since hosting services are limited to server-level maintenance, they are mostly hands-off when it comes to the customer’s applications and the site itself.
Unless the hosting provider offers, and the customer takes advantage of managed WordPress hosting.
Managed WordPress Hosting is an application-level management service. There are plenty of hosting services that offer Managed WordPress hosting for those who prefer WordPress as their web development platform.
WP Engine is probably the best-known hosting company for managed WordPress hosting.
With managed hosting the hosting service assists the customers manage, update, secure, backup, migrate, and optimize WordPress websites. This includes the proper configuration of the hosting service the site is running on.
Sites that take advantage of Managed WordPress Hosting benefits from:
Automatic updates – WordPress websites are often vulnerable to attacks unless updated. Managed sites can be automatically updated or when permitted by the customer after the customer is given notice.
Automatic and manual backups – hosting providers can set up automatic backup schedules or run regular manual backups.
Automatic WordPress Setup – Managed sites can either set up a WordPress server from scratch or allow users to set up their websites within minutes.
WordPress Support – when customers run into WordPress-related problems, Managed WordPress services are prepared to help.
Staging and Production Environments – Customers are allowed to set up development and production instances of WordPress so customers can test site modifications before deployment.
Better WordPress website performance and security – Managed WordPress services can help customers configure their websites to run faster through proper caching. They also help secure their customers by automatically or through permission, update websites in case a new vulnerability in WordPress is discovered.
Managed WordPress can be an additional part of shared hosting, VPS, or dedicated hosting or can be a package on its own with the hosting as options. This, however, can increase the costs of hosting packages but is a big plus if customers choose WordPress as their platform.
Website Builders All-Inclusive Platforms
For those who want to build more straightforward websites but don’t want to learn WordPress or work on HTML websites from scratch, most hosting services come packaged with their website builders.
Websites made from these website builders are often made from sets of customizable templates where users can insert or remove website elements, customize background colors, text styles, and layouts.
Popular web hosting services like Hostgator have their website builder called Gator Website Builder to complement their hosting packages. Wix is another famous website builder.
Some services put their website builders as the main focus of their hosting services. These include WordPress.com whose templates churn out websites based on WordPress, which is entirely customizable and Google’s Blogger.
Then, there are companies such as Wix, Weebly, and Squarespace that promote their website builders first, their hosting packages second.
These companies are hosting services that focus on smaller customers like individuals who want to create their websites or landing pages for their small businesses though depending on the patience and talent of the customer can be so much more.
As mentioned, websites built through website builders can be simple one-page sites to large online stores depending on the package purchased.
The necessary web elements such as slideshows, social media links, storefronts, and shopping carts, and other e-commerce elements can be put together without much coding knowledge.
Artists or professionals often achieve the best-looking sites.
Website Builder companies such as Weebly offer scalable hosting packages whose features differ at different prices. There is little concern for the hosting service behind the website.
The problem with Website Builders is that options are limited with regards to flexibility. Such can be remedied by customers who know how to code and integrate other elements as long as those elements are allowed by the service.
So for people who need to have personal blogs, business pages, or online stores, there needs to be a host. If you are one of those people, the website hosting options have been laid out. Just choose according to your needs.