If you look around, you will find hundreds of web hosts and service providers out there. How do you know what you need for your website? Where should you purchase these services? I’ll try to answer all of your questions in this article. Here are few simple things to think about before purchasing web services for your small business.
Shared Hosting is a web hosting service where many websites are hosted on one (or multiple) web servers connected to the Internet. Each site is placed on in its own account to keep it separate from other sites. Because many people share this server, this is generally the most economical option for hosting. Shared hosting is a great choice for beginners because you’re usually provided with a control panel and many easy to use tools. This is a great starting point for a small businesses.
Shared web hosting generally ranges from $2 to $6/month.
VPS (Virtual Private Server) refers to a virtual machine running in software on the same physical computer as other customers’ virtual machines. You could think of it as an individual virtual computer. A VPS is dedicated to the individual customer, has the privacy of a separate physical computer, and can be configured to run any server software you need. Usually, the user has full root access to the virtual machine’s operating system. A virtual private server is not usually recommended for beginners unless it includes “full management” from the provider, in which the provider could setup a control panel and easy to use tools for the client. VPS gives you more control than Shared Hosting as you can install whichever software your business needs.
Virtual private servers are usually priced from $5 up to $50/month, depending on your needs.
A Dedicated Server refers to a type of hosting service in which a user would lease an entire server, not shared with any other users, in a data center. This is more flexible than shared hosting and virtual private servers. As a dedicated server client, you have full control over the server along with dedicated resources all to yourself. This includes, a choice of hardware, operating system, software, etc. Server administration can usually be provided by the hosting company for an additional cost. Dedicated servers are hosted in data centers, providing redundant power sources and systems to ensure your server is up 24/7. The server hardware is usually owned by the provider and in some cases they will provide support for your operating system or software applications. A dedicated server may be beneficial to your small business if you’re running resource intensive web applications, data bases, selling hosting space to your clients, etc.
Dedicated servers range from $50 up to $500 or more. Warning: be careful with hosts claiming to offer a dedicated server for less then $40. It’s nearly impossible to provide a dedicated server, which would be useful to you, for less than $40/month. This could lead to a terrible service and you may end up with a lot of unwanted downtime.
Storage and Bandwidth: When you’re choosing a hosting solution for your small business, disk (storage) space and bandwidth are very important aspects to pay attention to. You would not want to end up with a hosting plan that does not offer you the kind of storage space and bandwidth that is required by your website or application. It’s always better to have more available just in case your estimate is incorrect. No one is able to tell you the best amount of disk space and bandwidth because we’re unsure of your exact needs. However, your web service provider should be able to help figure out the amount of resources you will need.
Beware of Overselling: Overselling, also known as over-subscribing, is when a web host or company provides plans that are unsustainable if every one of their customers use all allocated resources. For example, a VPS provider may offer ten clients, 1GB of RAM. If their server only has access to 8GB of RAM, all clients will not be able to use the entire 1GB at the same time. There is no way to ever know if your web host is overselling without a lot of investigation. If you notice slow performance, disconnects, and degrading service over time, it’s possible you’re being hosted on an oversold node (server). If the price is too good to be true, it’s possible that your host is “overselling” their resources.
Upgrades: It’s important to find out from your web host ahead of time if you can easily upgrade in the future. As your business grows, you may want to upgrade your service. You should make sure that your website will have limited downtime during the upgrade and that it can be done at any time, paying only the difference in price.
Customer Support: Custom service is one of the most important aspects of web hosting. Although its’ not always needed by customers, many hosts offer 24/7 Live Support. It is probably in your best interest to learn about your hosts “Ticket” or “Support” system so you can easily contact them if anything goes wrong.
Warning: If you’re purchasing an “Un-Managed” or “Self Managed” service, your server provider or web host will not assist you with any software installs, setup, etc. These hosts only manage the hardware to ensure the service they are providing you never goes offline.
Where to buy: There are hundreds of web hosts and service providers. The only ways of knowing which one will provide what you need is by asking them and reading reviews. You can find many great web service reviews at this forum: WebHostingTalk.com. Keep in mind, most web service providers offer some sort of money back guarantee. This way, if the service you ordered doesn’t end up working out, you can get your money back and try something else.
Good luck! Have a question? Post a comment below.