The hosting industry is almost as massive as the internet. After all, you can’t have a website without hosting, so it’s become a necessity for anyone who wants to start a blog or create a website. As a result, there are a lot, and I mean a lot, of hosting companies to choose from. If you're a web hosting beginner, we've got you covered.That’s why we here at Hosting Captain are dedicated to bringing you fair and accurate hosting reviews for all of today’s biggest companies, and all of the small ones too. You’ll find that hosting can cost anywhere from nothing, to a couple dollars or more a month. Not all of it is created equal though, read on to learn about the various types of hosting, managed plans, and some tips you’ll need to see before you choose your hosting company.
The 5 Types of Hosting
When you boil it all down, every company you come across will offer plans across five types of hosting, or less depending on their specialty. Some companies only offer one or two types. They are as follows:
- Shared Hosting
- VPS (Virtual Private Server)
- Dedicated hosting
- Reseller hosting
Let’s break these down and look at each one in more detail.
Shared hosting is the most common type of hosting and the type with the lowest cost per month. Since websites are stored on servers, shared hosting involves hosting multiple websites on a single server. Think of it like the internet equivalent of renting an apartment. Each month you’re paying for your own slice of that server. You’ll share that computer’s bandwidth, memory, processing power, and storage with all the other sites that are also renting space through a shared hosting plan. If you’re a small business looking to start a website, or you’re someone who is interested in starting a blog, this is the perfect type of hosting to start with. It’s affordable and in many cases, plenty of power for your needs. While shared hosting is largely the same across each company, keep in mind that the power of the server does vary, along with the number of sites they are willing to place on a single server. This can affect your website’s performance, so don’t decide based on price alone.
VPS (Virtual Private Server)
For a growing business or website, sometimes sharing isn’t the ideal situation. If you find yourself overstepping your bounds and draining more resources than your shared plan allows, the next step up is a virtual private server. If shared hosting is the apartment equivalent, then a VPS plan is a condo. You’re still sharing a server with other websites, but there are a few key differences:
Your website is digitally isolated from the others (hence ‘virtual’)
You have access to more of the servers resources
Full control of your hosting environment for ultimate management options
These things make VPS hosting very attractive to growing websites, blogs, or business sites.
While marketing would have you believe that a “cloud” is a mysterious place in the sky that stores data, it’s actually a cluster of connected servers that share resources and communicate with one another.In keeping with our housing analogies, cloud hosting is like the couch surfer who stays with friends or at airbnb’s so they can see the world. It’s flexible and it offers better speeds to people in various locations. In regards to cloud hosting, this type of plan has your website spread out across multiple servers. This enables a couple of awesome features, chief of which is the ability to scale your resources instantly as you need them. Were you hit with a spike in traffic? Cloud hosting can direct additional power to your website instantly to handle the spike, no problem. It also allows hosting companies with a content delivery network (CDN) to host your site in various locations based on where your users are located geographically. The flexibility of cloud hosting is undeniable. It’s very easy to tweak your performance and your resources when you need to adjust, making it an attractive option for blogs or sites that experience fluctuations in traffic.
Dedicated hosting is the top dog, and one that comes with a hefty price tag. If you have the means and the need for an entire server to call your own, then this is the way to go. You’ll have complete control over the server, what’s installed on it, and access to all of that power. Dedicated hosting is like buying your own house. Every room, every nook and cranny, all of it is yours to do with as you please.
This type of hosting allows you the opportunity to go into the business yourself. To bring our housing analogies full circle, this is when you purchase homes for the purpose of renting them out to other tenants. These types of plans offer you the ability to pay per month for access to servers that you can price and sell yourself. The upside here is that you’ll never have to do maintenance or pay to build servers. Instead, you’ll be able to sell those same plans, at your price, and under your brand. You will need to provide customer service to the people you sell hosting to, but the bulk of the startup costs will be nonexistent for you.
Specialized Hosting Plans
A website is an amazing thing because no two are created alike. Some are used for blogs, others are for businesses, some are a combination of the two or something different entirely. To meet the needs of these sites, hosting companies will also offer specialized hosting designed for your specific needs. Next up we’ll take a look at these types of hosting, and how they fit into your needs.
Our first option uses the ever-popular WordPress software to build your website. This platform is one of the top choices for just about any website in the world. It began in 2003 and has since grown to become a platform for blogs,business sites, and so much more. It caters to beginners and veteran web developers alike, creating an experience that cannot be matched by other content management systems. While it is incredibly easy to install, putting everything together takes time. Managed WordPress hosting cuts out this investment of time and energy. Instead, a team of professionals will build your website using this platform and set everything up for you. When it’s time for you to take a tour, your team will continue to work in the background, making sure everything is secure and up-to-date. This frees up your time to spend on making adjustments and creating content.
While you may not be a programmer (or maybe you are?) you’ve probably heard of Java. This programming language has been around since 1995. It’s lost popularity in the mainstream, but it is still used pretty regularly on the server side of things, especially on big sites like Ebay and Amazon. If you want to incorporate features using Java, be sure to look out for hosting plans that offer Java compatibility.
PHP is another language used on the server side of things. It is supported by most hosting companies, and represents one of the most popular scripting languages in the world. Many apps you will be using are written in PHP. WordPress, Joomla, and Drupal are all perfect examples. If you’re looking for PHP compatibility in your hosting, odds are you are probably looking to write your own specialized applications. You shouldn’t have much trouble finding a plan that supports this language.
Joomla comes up as a close second to WordPress in the content management system rankings. It’s a little more complicated that our pal WP, but it is very popular as a system for creating ecommerce sites. Many hosting companies offer Joomla installation when you’re setting everything up, so keep an eye out for this if you’re planning on selling online.
ASP.NET is yet another server-side scripting language. It’s most easily described as Microsoft’s version of PHP. It’s best for people who are experienced with Microsoft programming and don’t have much experience in Visual Basic or C#. The downside here is that most hosting companies don’t support it, so you may have trouble finding this one at your company of choice.
Linux or Windows Servers?
In some cases, you may have a choice as to which operating system your server is running on. It’s worth noting that you do not need Windows or Linux specifically to use these servers. You can run whichever operating system you like, this is merely a choice of the server’s framework. Let’s take a look at how servers function with these operating systems:
Linux is the cool and laid-back operating system that everyone loves. It plays well with just about any programming language or application, which makes it a breeze to use. It will support languages like PHP and databases like MySQL without a hitch. In some cases you’ll see these servers referred to as LAMP, which stands for Linux, Apache (the web server), MySQL (the database), and PHP.
Windows is the widely known operating system powered by Microsoft. Choosing a server with this operating system ensures that you can use Windows apps, databases, and languages like ASP.NET. In the past, this type of hosting was more expensive, but these days the prices are usually the same between this and Linux hosting. If you need to use Microsoft tools and languages, this is the choice for you. Otherwise, you’ll find more flexibility with Linux hosting.
3 Major Factors to Consider
Before you dive into the reviews we have on offer, there are a couple things I would like to show you. These factors will not only help you choose the right company, but they also will add a basis of crucial knowledge to your deciding factors.
#1 - Hosting is Not “Unlimited”
When you visit many of today’s hosting companies, you’ll find that they promise “unlimited” bandwidth, storage, email accounts, you name it. If it sounds too good to be true, that’s because it is. When they say “unlimited” they are using the word in a very literal sense. They don’t apply strict limits to these things, but there are ultimate limits in place. A quick visit to the company’s Terms of Service will show you that they have thresholds where you will be penalized for using server resources. Now, in many cases, this won’t be an issue. That being said, if you’re website is exploding in popularity and you refuse to upgrade your hosting, you may find yourself acquainted with this limits. I would like to reiterate that this will most likely never be an issue with most websites, but it’s important to know what the true meaning is behind certain buzz words.
#2 - Your Server’s Location Matters
When we think about the internet, we usually don’t worry about where a website is located. We can visit a website from Japan just as easily as we can access something in California. The internet has made us forget where we are. In reality, though, the location of your servers matters a lot. The closer your users are to the server where you website is hosted, the faster it will load for them. Speed is a huge factor these days, so don’t let a slow site cost you visitors. Check where your server will be located, and look for companies that offer a Content Delivery Network (CDN) which will deliver your website based on the users locations for maximum speed.
#3 - Customer Support
When choosing your service, remember that they are obligated to make your hosting experience the best it can be. If something goes wrong, if you have a question, or if you just need some advice, your hosting company should be there to help. Check out customer reviews and look into the support options available before you choose a host. They should be ready, able, and willing to help when you need them.
It’s Time to Choose
Now you’re ready to enter the big wide world of hosting. Be sure to check out our hosting reviews and consider all the options before making a decision. This is your website, your piece of the internet, so reach out and take it. Thanks for reading, and remember to check back here for all the latest reviews and info on today’s hosting services.