If you’ve decided to get a new website it’s likely you’ll be thinking about what type of website you’re going to have and how wonderful your new venture is going to be.
But the first step you’ll need to complete before you can even think about your amazing website is where it’s going to live.
There are lots of options available, so what you choose is going to depend on the type of site you’re going to build and on how big your budget is.
There are three main types of hosting – hosted services, cloud hosting and dedicated servers.
Ideal for those on tight budget and those just starting out and personal websites.
There are lots of hosted services available for people looking for to get started, or just want a simple site for their personal blog.
Wix is a business level service that offers websites for free, but in order to access all the tools they have available and to remove adverts from your website you’ll have to pay a monthly subscription. Their most popular package being £7.56 per month.
WordPress.com offers a solid platform for budding bloggers but like Wix you’ll have to pay a subscription to get more tools, with their personal package costing £3 per month (billed annually though) to get your own domain and remove advertising.
Shopify is an ecommerce platform that starts at a hefty sounding £29 per month for the basic package, but for that money you’ll get an SSL certificate, good support, and merchant services for your online shop.
Using a hosted service like those above can be really good if you’re on a particularly tight budget, or you’re just looking to create a personal website. They’re generally quick to set-up and come with plenty of tools which will help your site perform. They all come with themes which are easy to install.
These types of services are usually pretty limited and are designed to get you started quickly. In my opinion they are a short term option. You’ll soon get frustrated by the lack flexibility in the lower range plans.
Hosted Services are fine for what they are, Shopify in particular is good for those wanting to build an online shop, but in the long term, if you’re serious about your site, you’ll want something to move something more flexible.
Ideal for small to medium businesses and those expecting low to medium volumes of traffic.
Cloud hosting basically means your website will share space on a hosting service’s server with a number of other sites.
This is generally the most popular type of hosting service available as it’s very cheap. For example TSOHost’s entry level package starts at just £1.25 per month. With this type of hosting you’ll get a space on the server – how much depends on your package. You’ll also get email boxes, SSL compatibility, and easy to install apps like WordPress or Joomla.
When choosing a host there are several things I’d recommend. The first and most important, in my view, is how good the support is. In my experience the support can range from excellent to abysmal, so look for reviews before you buy.
When choosing a cloud host you should you should also look at speed and the uptime they provide. You can use a site like http://www.top5hosting.co.uk/ which will give a good idea of who to look at.
Cloud hosting is a good choice for smaller enterprises. The starting price is generally very cheap, and you can install all the most popular tools and apps for your website through the control panel. It’s good for websites with lower volumes of traffic.
Picking a provider can be difficult, and it’s definitely not suitable for large volume traffic sites. At the lower end of the packages you’ll have to purchase you domain name separately. Cloud hosting can also be a little overwhelming for those who are not confident. However, a good host should provide lots of support and usually have walk throughs to help you.
Cloud hosting is generally what I’d suggest to most people. Unless you’re expecting massive amounts of traffic or have a particular requirement that can’t be fulfilled it’ll do the job nicely for a modest outlay. My personal recommendation would be between TSOHost and Site Ground. Both offer excellent support and value for money.
Ideal for those with websites that have high volumes of traffic and specific requirements.
If you have a website that has a very high volume of traffic then you may look at at having a dedicated server. What this means is that you have a physical machine (or container) that has server software installed on it dedicated to your website.
In this case the server is controlled either physically or virtually by you, or your employees. You decide on what software is installed, and how it is managed.
To deal with a dedicated server you will need a higher level of technical knowledge to set up and maintain the server.
Dedicated servers are at the top end of the hosting market. Fasthost’s dedicated server package starts at £40pm to £350pm, so you’ll need a website that really justifies that sort of outlay. Alternatively you could buy your own server and connect this to the internet, but this is a very pricey operation.
Having a dedicated server means that you control the environment your website sits in, and you can run the software you want to run. It’s a good option for a website with high traffic as the machine will only have to deal with requests for your website (or websites), rather than a server dealing with requests for multiple websites.
Dedicated servers also offer the potential for greater security. This is because you control what is on the server. In the case of cloud hosting, you have no idea what else will be on that server, and how that might impact on your site.
A dedicated server can be a great option for high volume traffic websites and websites with proprietary software. They also offer greater security.
Dedicated servers are expensive to run, and require a high degree of technical knowledge and expertise.
Dedicated servers are only really suitable for those companies that have massive site traffic, and the outlay in a lot of cases will probably not be justified. The other point to consider is that will probably only be as good as the person who runs it, so you’ll have to consider not just the outlay for the server, but the outlay for the person to run it as well.