What is the right web hosting choice for your website? The main types of web hosting available are free hosting, shared hosting, dedicated hosting, virtual hosting and collocated and/or managed hosting. This range in reliability, stability, speed and cost and you’ll need to consider the relative benefits and disadvantages to decide which is best suited to your website.

Comparing types of Web Hosting:

Free web hosting

Many ISPs offer small scale web hosting free to customers on a paid internet plan. There are also a number of public platforms where you can host your webpages for free, although your webpage might have unwanted ads and there are often no guarantees as to reliability. Free hosting can also mean your site could be slow to load. This option is generally best suited to fun or non-essential webpages such as personal websites.

Pros: Free

Cons: Can be slow or subject to unexpected downtime

Sponsored ads may appear on your webpages

Shared web hosting

Shared hosting means your website is hosted on a server shared by owners of other websites. The physical server and its software host multiple webpages, so it is often cheap. It can also be slow as you’re sharing the server’s resources with others. Another potential problem is that other users’ web applications can compromise the stability of a shared server.

Pros: Cheap No ads

Cons: Can be slow or unstable

Dedicated web hosting

Dedicated hosting means you have a web server dedicated to hosting your website. Website speed will usually be very good because the server’s resources are reserved for your website only. It may cost more because you pay for the operation and upkeep of the server. Dedicated web hosting is better for websites that need significant system resources (e.g. e-commerce and membership based websites).

Pros: More stable and faster

You control your server

Cons: More expensive

May require technical expertise to solve server problems

Virtual web hosting

In virtual web hosting, many users can share one system’s resources (such as the CPU), but the server environment is configured so that you have your own ‘private’ server. Each user is generally allocated a percentage of the system resources so they don’t affect the function of other users’ websites. This means you can install your own web applications and host your website without competing against other users for speed and resources.

Pros: Your own virtual private server with associated speed and stability

Cheaper than dedicated hosting

Cons: Service levels can vary greatly across different virtual hosting providers

Collocated or managed web hosting

Collocated web hosting means you provide your own web server and it is housed by a web host in a facility such as a data centre. Even though it is stored off your premises, you still have control over what applications and scripts you install. Collocated hosting has similar benefits to dedicated web hosting. You may be able to upgrade this service to managed web hosting, in which the web host provides support services.

Pros: Highly secure and stable

Cons: Can be expensive

When unmanaged, you are still responsible for problems with your server

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