Differences between shared, VPS, dedicated and cloud hosting
  John Mwaniki /   19 Jan 2022

Differences between shared, VPS, dedicated and cloud hosting

Choosing a good hosting provider and a hosting package for your website goes a long way in determining its performance.

In this article, you will learn what web hosting is, what types of hosting plans exist and which among them best suits your website.

What is Web hosting?

A website is made up of a collection of related web pages comprising of different types of files (eg HTML, CSS, javascript, images, videos, etc). These files occupy disk space on the device in which they are stored.

For the website to be accessible to the public across the world, its files need to be uploaded and stored on another powerful computer on the Internet called a webserver.

Servers are so powerful that they can manage many people accessing the website at the same time. They have similar components as your PC such as CPU, hard disk, and memory among others, and also run an operating system.

Most of the servers on the Internet are Linux-based.

The owner of the server rents out storage space and computing power to the website owner and also provides some other services such as server management, support, and backups. The process of providing this infrastructure for others is called web hosting. The person/company that does it is called a hosting provider or simply, host.

Web hosting can be defined as an Internet service that allows individuals and organizations to make their websites accessible via the Internet(World Wide Web).

Types of Web hosting

Most hosting providers offer multiple hosting plans. While all these plans all act as a storage place for your website, where they differ is the amount of storage capacity, control, technical knowledge requirement, server speed, reliability, and of course the hosting price.

Below are the types of web hosting:

  1. Shared hosting
  2. VPS hosting
  3. Dedicated Hosting
  4. Cloud Hosting

1. Shared hosting

Shared hosting is the cheapest and most popular hosting plan among most people in the world.

As its name suggests, your website shares the same storage space with other websites on the same server. The number of these websites could be anywhere between hundreds or thousands depending on your setup and hosting provider.

In shared hosting, all websites must share the available resources with all the other websites on the server such as CPU time, memory, and disk space.

Advantages

  • It is the cheapest and most affordable hosting type. The cost is shared among a large number of website owners.
  • It is beginner-friendly and the simplest to manage. Most of the complex technical stuff is done for you by the hosting provider.

Disadvantages

  • Low performance. Since many websites share the same server resources, this may reduce the performance and cause the websites to be slow.
  • Low-security levels. A security breach on one website may affect other websites stored on the same server.
  • Difficult to scale. In shared hosting storage space and bandwidth are usually limited and can easily hinder the scalability in case the website exceeds the allocated resources.

2. Virtual Private Server (VPS)

A VPS hosting is a shared hosting environment that mimics a dedicated server.

It is best suited for website owners that need more control, but are not ready or willing to invest in a dedicated server.

It is similar to shared hosting in that your website shares a server with other sites, but in this case, there are fewer sites sharing space and resources.

The server is partitioned out into different virtualized server environments that operate as independent servers from one another.

The overall CPU time and memory are shared across all accounts on the server, but at the same time, portions of those resources are always dedicated to each account.

Advantages

  • Higher performance than shared hosting as less number of websites share the resources.
  • Scalable - More storage space and bandwidth are allocated to each account.
  • More secure - Each account has an independent virtual server with independent IP addresses that separate each website from the others.
  • More manageable and customizable - You have root access to your virtualized server with much control and can make customizations to suit your needs.

Disadvantages

  • More expensive as compared to shared hosting
  • Requires more technical skills - Unmanaged VPS may be difficult to configure, optimize, and do maintenance thus taking longer to get your website up and running.

Dedicated Hosting

As the name suggests, the server is exclusively rented by you and your website is the only one stored on the server.

This means no sharing of any server resources with anyone else.

You have full rights and access to the resources of the server, and you can configure the hosting environments to your exact specifications.

It's best suited to large businesses and high-traffic websites that have the necessary technical staff to maintain the server.

It is also an ideal option if your business requires a high level of security.

Advantages

  • Full control over the server
  • Great performance
  • High security
  • High scalability

Disadvantages

  • It is expensive
  • Requires high technical skills to manage and maintain.

Cloud Hosting

Cloud hosting is similar to VPS hosting in that you also have your website stored on a virtual machine.

However, instead of one physical server, your site is part of a whole network of servers working together, running applications using combined computing resources.

Just like in VPS, you have to share resources with other users. But because there are more servers involved, there are more resources available to everyone.

Cloud hosting is a great option for any size of business, mostly due to its affordable “pay-as-you-go” pricing. However, it requires technical know-how to manage and maintain it.

Advantages

  • High scalability and flexibility - Your site can grow over time, using as much resource as it requires at any particular time. You can simply ask for more server space and bandwidth when you reach your limit.
  • Cost-effective - You only pay for the resources you use.
  • Its reliable - Cloud hosting draws its resources from multiple different servers thus if one server goes down, the other servers fill the gap.

Disadvantages

  • It requires advanced technical skills to configure, optimize, and do maintenance.
  • It's less secure. Since your website is stored on a network virtual space that shares resources with other websites, this hosting is potentially not very secure. This point is hotly debated and in overall, arguable.

When choosing a web host, there is a number of important factors to consider such as hosting type, price, features, hardware, hosting prover reputation, and scalability among others.

In this article, we have explored the different types of hosting available, and the advantages and disadvantages of each.

If you're starting out with your first website or blog, it's a good idea to start small with a shared hosting plan with a reputable hosting company. Shared hosting may also be a great option for you if don't expect huge traffic visiting your website or you don't have many security concerns for your website.

If your website or blog receives traffic in many thousands of people per month then it would be a great idea to choose a VPS, dedicated, or cloud hosting.

The good thing is that you can always upgrade and migrate between hosting plans later as your site grows.

It is my hope that this article has shed some light on you.