Different kind of hosting offers
As there are different kind of computers, there are also different kind of servers and hosting offers. Your choice will depend on several aspects: the things you are going to host, the audience you are expecting, your knowledge, your budget (in a minimal way because it shouldn’t be a selection criteria).
A dedicated server is a server which is completely dedicated to you. In other terms, you own (or rent most of the time) a computer in a datacenter. This server is fully yours and you can configure it as you want.
In particular, you have access to every file on the server, that means you have a “root” access. We will see that in another article. But, to summarize, you can do – almost – everything you want.
When you buy a dedicated server you buy one with a specific configuration. Just like when you choose a computer, you are buying one with this or that processor, a certain amount of memory (RAM) and a certain amount of space disk (and also a specific kind of disk). This hardware configuration is, in 99% of the cases, permanent and cannot be upgraded. If you need to upgrade you will have to move to another server.
Most of the times the server comes nude, with nothing installed, no operating system. It’s like buying a computer and there is no Microsoft Windows (or Mac OSX if it’s a Mac computer) installed on it. But, most of the times, your hosting provider can offer you to choose a configuration and you can install it just by clicking on a button. We will see that in the articles about the control panels.
In terms of support, most of the times, a real dedicated server with a root access has no support from your hosting provider, or a very basic one like restarting your server if it goes down. But you can opt for a “managed” dedicated server that some hosting providers offer. You will pay more, you won’t have a root access, but you will have more support.
VPS – Virtual Private Servers
A VPS can be seen as a dedicated server instance on a server that you share with others. What does this mean exactly?
This means one server is split in several independent servers where each one has the characteristic of a dedicated server. This can be done thanks to some virtualization techniques with which you are virtualizing several dedicated servers from one big server. Each VPS is thus completely independent. It has its own ressources, its own memory, its own processors, its own disk.
As it is like a dedicated server, you can, most of the times, have a root access to completely configure it. As a dedicated server it comes nude of software and you may have the option to install a software configuration just by clicking on a button.
So why choosing a VPS if it’s not really different from a dedicated server? Mainly for two reasons:
- It’s usually way more affordable (you can have all the advantages of a dedicated server for a fraction of the price)
- It’s easily upgradable: unlike with a dedicated server which has its configuration stuck, you can start with a certain configuration and upgrade it when needed
So in this case, why choosing a dedicated server if a VPS is more affordable and is upgradable? Well, because a VPS has some limits in its upgrade capabilities and so it is more limited than a dedicated server which remains the more performant solution.
Like for dedicated servers, in terms of support, most of the time, a real VPS with a root access has no support from your hosting provider, or a very basic one like restarting your server if it goes down. But you can opt for a “managed” VPS that some hosting providers offer. You will pay more, you won’t have a root access, but you will have more support.
Shared hosting is the most common hosting offer, the cheapest one, but also the least efficient one! But it’s way enough if you want to host a website with few audience or a web application which doesn’t require a specific configuration and which is not resource consuming.
A shared hosting means you share a server with other users. The server, the computer thus, is split in different partitions. You are using one of the partitions of the server. It is different than a VPS since your hosting doesn’t have a specific instance on the server, and thus the hardware and the configuration are shared between all the users of the server, especially the processor. You may have your own disk space and RAM, but you will share the processor capabilities. If a user consumes 90% of the processor it can be a problem for your instance. The other thing is as you don’t have a root access (the access to all the files), you cannot choose the configuration of your server and you have to do with the configuration that has been set by the hosting provider. Thus, if you have to use a specific software on your hosting, for example to create your website, and this application needs a specific item in the configuration to be installed or enabled, you will be stuck.
A shared server has, most of the time, a good support but as you are not using applications (here the term “applications” refers to website as well as other web programs or scripts) which are resource consuming and as you are stuck in a specific configuration, you may need support only for very basic aspects.
In conclusion, which hosting do I have to choose?
If you are using your hosting in a professional aspect I recommend a VPS or a dedicated server. You may start with a VPS to migrate to a dedicated server if needed, but many VPS are good enough to start with. I also recommend you don’t go for a “managed” VPS because everything that limits you is something that also sets limits for your business. By reading our articles you will know how to be completely independent and how to fix your problems yourself faster than if you had opened a support ticket at your hosting provider.
Also, most of the time, the support of your hosting provider will not work for the problems you can encounter with an application you try to run on your hosting, whether you have a shared or a managed server. So the best solution, as a web entrepreneur, is to know how to do the essential things by yourself. Don’t worry, you are not walking alone! 🙂