You canâ€™t have a website without a web host. Itâ€™s like having a house without having any land to build it on. Until you get that virtual real estate, all you have is a design and a plan. Before you go shopping for a web host, you should be aware that there are different kinds of web hosting, with different benefits and different price ranges. Hereâ€™s a breakdown of what different types of web hosting mean, so you can decide exactly what you need before you get into a hosting contract.
Low End Hosting: Shared Server
Just because shared server pricing is on the cheap side doesnâ€™t mean itâ€™s low quality. A shared server plan may only cost you a few dollars a month, but this is only because it doesnâ€™t take up too much of the web hosts resources. When you enter a shared server arrangement, you get to use part of a server to host your website. The rest of the server is used by other people to host their websites. Thereâ€™s no way that any of their websites can bleed onto yours, but you do share an IP address and control panel, and things that affect the entire server will affect you as well as them.
Mid Range Hosting: Virtual Private Server (VPS)
With this arrangement, youâ€™re still using the same server as other people, but it is partitioned so that your part of it acts as if it were its own server, with its own IP address, control panel and functionality. It costs a little more, but itâ€™s cheaper than a private server while still giving you many of the benefits of a private server, including increased disk space and bandwidth, and more freedom with your use of toolsets and applications that go with designing and maintaining your domains.
High Level Hosting: Dedicated Server
In this case, youâ€™ve got a server all to yourself. This one can be pricey, because the web host canâ€™t make any money off of the server other than what they get from you. However, if youâ€™ve got a big Internet business with lots of websites and pages and lots of traffic, this is the way to go. You get massive bandwidth and disk space, and complete freedom and control over administration of the server, including the ability to change operating systems and programming languages if it suits you.
Other Options: Cloud Computing, Reseller Hosting
Cloud computing is a plan where you purchase services, disk space and bandwidth a la carte, you just take what you need and pay for what you take. If youâ€™re planning long term server use though, you should probably make the move to at least a shared server eventually. A reseller hosting plan is sort of like subletting an apartment. You pay for the whole server and sell pieces of it to your own clients. This is a good option for a web designer or a budding web host.