Choosing the Right Type of Web Hosting

In a previous post, we looked at the three things you need in order to set up a website for your blog or business:

  1. Web hosting: file storage, security, and bandwidth on a server maintained by the hosting service
  2. A domain name: the address where visitors find your site
  3. Content for your site: the fun/profitable stuff like your shop, blog, and portfolio

Now we’re going to look at hosting in more detail, so you can compare the types of web hosting available and choose the best fit for your goals, budget, and technical skill level.

You can choose from 5 main types of web hosting

If reading those terms makes you want to head to the pool for a procrastination break, don’t worry. We brought the pool to you – as a metaphor for your web hosting options. Let’s dive in.

Shared Hosting

Shared Hosting

Think of shared hosting as a neighborhood pool pass for your website.

Pros of Shared Hosting

For a few bucks, you get to use the Olympic-size pool without having to do pool maintenance and upgrades. If you like to go for the occasional swim, don’t mind crowds from time to time, and host  small parties that comply with the pool manager’s rules, shared hosting may be the option for you.

Cons of Shared Hosting

Because shared hosting means your site shares a server with many other sites, those sites’ traffic volume and security practices can affect you. If you’re hosting a water meditation class and five busloads of kids arrive for a field trip, your tranquil vibe may be disrupted. If another swimmer brings a glass bottle and it breaks in the pool, everyone has to get out while the lifeguards clean up the mess. (That pool user will likely be asked to leave, just as shared server users can get booted for breaking the rules.)

Best for…

Dipping your toes in the waters of the internet. Shared hosting is inexpensive, so it’s an easy way to try setting up and running your site without spending much money. If you decide you need your own server/pool later on, upgrading is easy.

Cloud Hosting

Cloud Hosting

Cloud hosting is like having your own VIP waterpark pass.

Pros of Cloud Hosting

Cloud hosting lets you access the features you need when you need them by using resources from multiple servers – again, without the high cost of a dedicated server. It’s like being able to skip the waterslide lines and bring as many guests as you like on the log flume, because cloud resources make it easy for your site to scale, handle traffic spikes, and load super fast.

Cons of Cloud Hosting

If you’re the sort of technical-minded person who’d rather build your own waterpark, cloud hosting may not be your best fit because it doesn’t give you root access for customization.

Best for…

New site owners and small business owners who want to wow visitors with fast load times and handle traffic peaks during sales seasons without a lot of technical work on their part.

Managed WordPress Hosting

Managed WordPress Hosting

Managed WordPress is like having your own personal trainer at the neighborhood pool.

Pros of Managed WordPress Hosting

Managed WordPress hosting makes your WordPress site load faster, look better, and easily handle big jumps in site traffic. It’s like having an expert trainer guide you through improving your swimming form, lap times, and endurance in the pool. If you run into trouble, you’ve got support right there ready to help.

Cons of Managed WordPress Hosting

Your site must use WordPress as its content management system to use managed WordPress hosting. Some WordPress plugins are disallowed if they create security issues, hamper site performance, or are redundant, so you’ll have to stick with the (many) allowed WordPress plugins.

Best for…

New site owners and small business owners who want the choice and flexibility of WordPress templates, themes, and plugins for their site plus extra site security and expert technical support from their web host.

  • Pro tip: For first-time site owners and brand-new small businesses, both managed WordPress hosting or cloud hosting are affordable options that offer support, flexibility, and a solid foundation for growth and success.

VPS Hosting

VPS Hosting

VPS hosting is like having part of the neighborhood pool reserved just for you.

Pros of VPS Hosting

VPS partitions off part of a shared server for your use, like having your own reserved space within the larger shared pool. That keeps your costs down and gives you freedom to do what you like in your own pool area, even if the rules for swimmers in the rest of the pool are different.

Cons of VPS Hosting

Other activity on the server can affect you, and you don’t have access to the whole server’s resources. If there’s a Super Soaker battle in the general pool area, you may get splashed, and you don’t have access to the whole pool, only to your part.

Best for…

Site owners who want the low-maintenance, low-cost advantages of a shared server plus the some of the flexibility, reliability and guaranteed resources of a dedicated server.

Dedicated Server Hosting

Dedicated hosting

A dedicated server is like having your own Olympic-size pool.

Pros of Dedicated Hosting

You don’t have to share with any other swimmers, although you can certainly invite people to drop by. With a dedicated server, you can set up the place however you like. Want tiki bars and cabanas all around the pool deck? Want to let people do back flips off the high dive? Your pool, your rules.

Cons of Dedicated Hosting

Dedicated servers, like huge decked-out swimming pools, are expensive and require some technical know-how to keep them in shape. Unless you’re hosting the online equivalent of daily pool parties or swim meets, a dedicated server may be more hosting power than you need.

Best for…

Established businesses that want to host many sites on one server, implement their own security protocols, handle high traffic volumes, or store huge amounts of data.

Ready to choose your web hosting?

Get started with HostGator.
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Casey Kelly-Barton is an Austin-based freelance B2B content marketing writer. Her specialty areas include SMB marketing and growth, data security, IoT, and fraud prevention