Website hosting is the required service that allows websites to be viewed online. It’s where your website’s digital files are stored on a physical server. There are two types of web hosting services: shared and dedicated. What’s the difference between them? Which one should you choose?
At Emily Journey & Associates, we are qualified to help you make that decision. As WordPress consultants, my team works inside all types of web hosting accounts. When someone hires us for website maintenance services, we often work with whatever hosting company they happen to be using. And, if we see problems with the server environment, then we recommend a change.
Website hosting is the foundation of every website. Without it, you wouldn’t be able to view or access your site from anywhere. The good thing is, both types of hosting are inexpensive compared to the other expenses involved with website maintenance. If you make a poor decision about hosting, it can be costly in the form of lost sales due to downtime and the expenses related to hiring 3rd party support.
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This type of hosting provides space on a server where multiple sites share resources. In other words, they share the same bandwidth and storage capacity. This means that all websites hosted by the same server share the affect of any bottlenecks that come up. But, that’s not enough information to help you make your decision. There are different types of shared hosting: managed and cloud.
The name of this type of hosting is a bit misleading. This is not a website management service. Even so, managed hosting plans are popular because they typically provide
- automatic daily backups which are easy to restore
- a free SSL certificate which is easy to activate
- dedicated space on a shared server
- full access to your file manager
Cloud hosting allows your website to be hosted on multiple synced servers all sharing resources. Cloud hosting plans dynamically pool allocated server resources across a large network of servers, instead of a single server. As a result, the hosting environment has improved reliability and performance.
A shared web hosting service allows many sites to share the same server. With this type of service, all sites share the same resources, including bandwidth (the amount of data transferred per second). This means that all websites hosted by the same server share the affect of any bottlenecks that come up. We generally don’t recommend standard shared plans because there are better, modern options.
Dedicated hosting is the priciest option
Dedicated hosting is slightly more expensive, but gives you complete control over the server. Unlike shared hosting, dedicated hosting plans provide your website with its own resources. They also come with additional features such as load balancing and security. There are different types of dedicated hosting: Virtual Private Server (VPS) and Dedicated Server.
A Virtual Private Server (VPS plan) is hosted on a single server that is shared. But, you get your own slot on the server. Therefore, your hosting environment is not technically shared. You have dedicated space on the server.
Dedicated hosting plans provide you with your own dedicated server and dedicated I.P. address. You are in complete control of the settings and security. Dedicated Server plans require a more sophisticated level of technical skill. We advise working with a website maintenance company with access to a server administrator. You’re basically on your own when you choose a Dedicated Server.
Ensure that your dedicated server is secure and well maintained. Contact our friendly office to inquire about our Website Maintenance support plans that include server support.
What does a web hosting provider do?
Web hosting providers offer space on their servers where websites can be hosted. The best web hosting providers focus on website hosting as their primary service.
Hosting service providers do not provide website maintenance services and generally should not be trusted with tasks related to:
- moving your website
- diagnosing and removing malware
- website design and development
- troubleshooting and updating plugins
If your website manager is also your hosting service provider, then your website manager is probably acting as a web host reseller. Based upon our experience helping business owners extract their websites from the grip of their former website managers, the reseller arrangement is discouraged.
Can I host my own website?
There’s a difference between hosting your own website and a self-hosted website. A self-hosted website is the type of service we’ve been discussing in this article. Your business pays a hosting company directly to host your site. It’s supposed to be your company card that’s on file and being charged on an annual or monthly basis. That means that you have full access to your website files on-demand and you get to control the access to your files—not your website manager.
It is possible to actually host your own website on your local computer. But, why would you want to do that? Local hosting requires the purchase of equipment, electricity costs, and bandwidth issues.
Is free website hosting right for you?
SquareSpace, Wix, Weebly, and the for-profit version of WordPress—WordPress.com offer free hosting for personal websites. When you use these platforms for a business website, then there are additional costs involved as well as significant limitations. In the long-run, purchasing your own hosting plan is more affordable.
Web hosting companies we recommend
Your website’s hosting service is just as important as your domain name. A good web host will provide reliable services, including 24/7 customer support. They should also offer multiple data centers so that your site can be accessed from anywhere in the world.
We recommend SiteGround to most of our small and medium sized business clients. The Grow Big plan is the most popular option and more than sufficient for the needs of our clients. Why do we recommend SiteGround? The big difference maker for us is the quality of customer support. High quality, 24/7, U.S. based customer support is important to us and to our clients.
Questions and answers about website hosting
Does my hosting service also maintain my website?
No. But, I can see why you might ask that question. Some freelance website managers resell hosting services. Or, they may pass on the cost of web hosting to you in their monthly fee while restricting your access to the server.
This territorial behavior may not seem problematic at first. But, what happens to your site files when you want to change website managers? Will they be permitted to access the server?
What if a 3rd party who is helping out with your website needs access to your server? Do you end up asking your website manager for permission to access to your own files?
There is no requirement to allow a website management company to “host your website.” Instead, you can get your own hosting account and give your website manager access to it for the purpose of managing your website.
We recommend the Grow Big plan at SiteGround if you choose a shared hosting option.
Do I get email with a hosting plan?
Yes, but we recommend that you avoid using server based email. Instead, use a separate email client such as Outlook or Google Workspace. You can set up professional, domain name based email without risking the problems that come with server based email accounts.
Can I move my website to another hosting company?
Yes, although we don’t recommend asking your new hosting company to do this for you. We also don’t recommend making this move on your own. We can help.
Consider moving your site to a different host if you are having performance or customer service issues with your current host.
What if I need more server resources?
Consider upgrading your shared hosting plan before moving your site to a dedicated server. With most hosting providers, you can upgrade your shared plan without any risk of downtime to your website. Moving your website from a shared plan to a dedicated server will require a site migration with potential downtime.
What is cPanel for hosting?
cPanel is a web hosting control panel that provides you with a user-friendly interface to manage the files and software applications that make your website tick. Unless you are confident with editing code, running command lines, and server administration, you should expect a cPanel or something similar with your plan.
Steps to sign up for website hosting
- Create an Account with SiteGround. Go to www.siteground.com and click “Sign Up” in the top right corner of your screen.
- Enter your email address.
- Click “Create Account”
- You will receive an email with your username and password.
- Log into your account using your username and password.
- Choose your plan.
- Select your Domain Name.
- Add your Email Address and Password.
- Confirm your Details.
- Pay for your Service.
- Wait for your site to be activated.
- Check your Emails for your Activation Code.
Website hosting explained in simple terms
Website hosting is an important part of building a successful online presence. Your website is like a house. It needs to have a foundation that will support its structure. If you don’t start with a solid foundation, it will start to break down.
Website hosting refers to the service that provides space for storing files on a server. This includes web pages, images, video, etc. Website maintenance refers to the process of keeping the site up to date and making requested website edits. The two terms are often used interchangeably, but they mean different things. Hosting is not an optional service to keep your website up and running.