When you first start your business venture, things can be, well, complicated. You’ve got so many choices in everything that you do. It can be overwhelming. But, don’t panic! Take things in stride and it will most definitely get easy. In the interim, when thinking about the different types of hosting, rest assured that it’s not quite as complex as it may seem. You’ve essentially got three categories, with several subcategories.

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The Three Main Categories of Web Hosting

Let’s talk a little bit about the three categories of web hosting and how you know which one is right for you.

Shared Web Hosting

Shared web hosting is just the basic, standard, mainstream plan. Most people start here. Essentially, hosting is just space on a server. Shared hosting is when you have one big server, and lots of people / sites are on it. Each person only has access to their own site.

Cost: $3.00 – $15.00+ Monthly

Sub-Categories:

  • Basic Shared Plan (one control panel – though you can add multiple sites, one login)
  • Reseller Plan (several control panels, several logins, several sites)

Pros:

  • Cost effective
  • Easy to use
  • Easy to manage
  • Easy to transfer

Cons:

  • Stability issues (after all, there could be hundreds of people in one server environment)
  • Limited control of the environment
  • Relying on others for resolving problems

VPS Web Hosting

VPS web hosting allows you to have (virtually) the same access as a dedicated server (discussed later) but in a smaller environment that is more cost effective. It gives you what’s called “root” access to a portion of a server; this allows you (and your developers) to make fundamental changes in your environment. This is not recommended for beginners and really isn’t any more powerful than shared hosting in general.

Cost: $15.00 – $150.00+ Monthly

Pros:

  • Access to change environmental features
  • No restrictions on mail, less restriction on usage

Cons:

  • Just as unstable as shared hosting
  • More costly than shared hosting

Dedicated Web Hosting Solutions

Dedicated servers are like the powerhouse of web hosting. It’s essentially an entire computer all to yourself and is most useful when your following is very large and you need extra space and hardware power. You also have access to make fundamental changes to the environment you’re in which is ideal for developers.

Cost: $100+ Monthly (ranges up to several hundred a month)

Pros:

  • Access to fundamental environmental changes
  • Entire server to yourself
  • Much more stable than shared and VPS hosting
  • Exceedingly more power / speed

Cons:

  • Cost is high-ish, certainly higher than shared
  • Likely will need assistance managing it

What Web Hosting Plan Is Right For You?

If you’re just starting out, I highly recommend a shared hosting plan to begin with. However, if you’re putting a lot of marketing dollars into your business and plan to see a lot of traffic right away, considering a dedicated server is a cost worthwhile. If you’re not sure how much resource usage you’re going to have right off the bat, get a consultation with a developer and find out. Also, make certain that you’re prepared to have someone you can go to when you are confused or need help.

One area that I didn’t touch on is application-specific managed hosting. For example there are web hosts like WP Engine and Synthesis that have hosting enviroments that are specific to WordPress and have features unique to their packages.

There are lots of options to be sure, but a good default choice is a shared hosting package that you can grow from.