Know Your Web Host – Common Packages Explained
Web hosting, like any other tech based industry, is forever changing. New packages are frequently coming on the market and technology itself such as the introduction of cloud based architecture is also influencing the plans and packages at our disposal. It seems like week on week web hosts come up with new hardware, software or offerings designed to optimise our sites further, to make them load faster or ultimately become more reliable. It’s a great time to be a consumer and it is most definitely a “buyers market”.
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The competition in the web hosting sector is rife. From small, bedroom operations right through to global powerhouses, the hosting firms out there want your business and want to steal your business from their competition. That puts you as a consumer in a fantastic position to get a great deal.
In this article, we’re going to run through some of the more common web hosting plans and packages you’ll see around the web. Sure, each host tailor their offerings as they see fit but most hosting companies you come across will at least offer several or all of these hosting types :-
This is the most common type of hosting plan. All web hosts offer this and is more than adequate for hosting small to medium sized websites. The name shared does not mean your account will be shared with someone else. It just means that the server resources are shared amongst several users. It’s not uncommon to find shared hosting servers hosting more than 2,000 accounts.
Obviously you get what you pay for which is why shared hosting is so cheap but for most sites it’s perfectly adequate and you won’t notice any performance issues unless you have a particularly high traffic website.
People buy reseller accounts for two reasons. Firstly, they buy them because they own a lot of sites and don’t want to buy individual plans for each or they buy them to, as the name suggests, resell web hosting services to third parties. Think of a web design with multiple clients, they may wish to offer web hosting as a bolt on service and subsequently resell their account to others. This is extremely common.
If you are planning to host a lot of sites, be sure to read the small print as some reseller hosting packages limit the amount of accounts you can create. There are companies out there such as HostPresto.com who do not limit the amount of accounts you can create which is a much better deal in my opinion.
This is somewhat of a middle ground offering and is designed for those who want something a bit better than a shared hosting account but don’t want to shell out for a high end dedicated server.
In truth, the virtual private servers on the market, particularly those that are cloud based can rival any physical dedicated server on the specification front. The only difference is that the resources are software controlled. But with a cloud solution you could have more resources at your disposal than you would with a dedicated server as you’re not limited to the confines of the physical server hardware.
For hosting medium to large sized websites a VPS would be the perfect option. The price will typically changed based on resources/usage and whether or not you require a fully managed solution or you’re happy with unmanaged.
App Specific (WordPress/Magento etc)
Lots of web hosting firms are now offering app specific web hosting plans. This is in the guise of WordPress hosting or Magento hosting and as you’ve probably guessed is designed to cater to a specific applications needs.
Whilst all software will run perfectly fine on a shared hosting environment. There are certain modules which can be installed in order to optimise a given application and configurations can be tweaked that favour certain applications.
If you’re running a large blog or online shop you may get better performance by using a plan such as this but for smaller sites it’s probably a bit overkill.
A dedicated server is still the best option out there is you want speed, reliability and ultimately performance. But it comes at a premium. You can expect to pay more than 20x what you would for a shared hosting account and for that reason primarily they’re seldom used for regular web hosting.
If however you are lucky enough to run a large/high traffic site, a dedicated server might be a viable option – especially if you have the budget to acquire one.
It is advisable that you know what you’re doing however as server configuration can be complex and you don’t want to leave yourself vulnerable to security issues. Although there are plugins that can assist you on that front.
Choosing A Package
Choosing a web hosting package is actually fair straight forward. It’s all about getting value for money and choosing a package that specifically suits your needs. Don’t underpay, certainly don’t overpay but get a package that suits your requirements but allows some room to grow.
If you’re serious about your project, it will grow and you don’t want to be upgrading 6 months or a year down the line. At the same time you don’t need a dedicated server if you’re getting 5 hits a day. So give it some thought and choose something which suits.