Finding the right place to host your website is an important part of starting a website for a few reasons. You need something that can not only handle traffic levels early on but you also need to have room to grow. Server migrations are not fun. The catch to all of this is cost, sure it would be great to have a dedicated server with huge amounts of resources, but who wants to spend $200 per month on hosting when you only get a dozen visitors per day?
Hosting your website is a far more calculated move than it might initially seem. If you are clueless when it comes to the hardware side of web development, it might seem best to just go with one of those all in one hosts where you pay $5 per month and you get everything. This may be the right decision, but before you spend any money, do your research.
Should I Use a Dedicated Server
A dedicated server is the best way to host your website. You have complete control over everything. You own the IP address and you can throw whatever sort of traffic you want at this server without breaking service usages. Now, you may bring down the server with too much traffic, but that’s the point. With other hosting options, your website often gets taken offline if it gets too much traffic. This is done to protect the server and all other websites that are hosted on it.
There is a catch here though, well two catches. The first is the price. Dedicated servers are the most expensive way of hosting. There are some terrible shared hosting providers out there that charge crazy money and people pay, but generally speaking, dedicated hosting is the most expensive. This is why it is often best to get a dedicated server only when you need the resources.
The second catch is the learning curve. Configuring a web server is not rocket science, but if you have no experience in doing it, it can be overwhelming. There is a lot to know and a lot to configure. A badly configured dedicated server can perform as bad as a cheap shared hosting package or worse, it might not work at all.
Where are the best places to get dedicated hosting?
The big question that everyone will have a different answer to. I will remain objective here and just detail a few different places with pros and cons of each.
- AWS : Amazon has the best infrastructure and hosts services for some of the biggest online services in the world (Netflix for example). No website is too big for AWS. You will pay a high price tag for it though.
- OVH: While I am not sure if they still do, OVH were once hosting wiki leaks. They have a great infrastructure too but not quite as good as AWS. If you are willing to sacrifice the enjoyment of 1 click setups and stuff, the savings on OVH might be worth it.
- Kimsufi: What did we do to deserve this gem! Once OVH retire their older servers, they move them to Kimsufi. Powerful servers at dirt cheap prices. Forget about any customer support or any of that stuff. Getting setup is a bit tricky but once its done, you will have dirt cheap hosting on a powerful dedicated host.
Whats the difference between a VPS and a dedicated server?
A VPS is the middle ground between shared hosting and dedicated hosting. While still technically shared hosting, you will have your own web server, just on a virtual machine. VPS stands for virtual private server. A large dedicated server will be split up into smaller virtual machines (VM). Each virtual machine will act just like it is a dedicated server, but since it is installed on a server with multiple other VMs, you will end up sharing system resources.
A VPS is usually a great way to start out. You get affordable hosting with the flexibility of dedicated hosting. The downside is that a server migration from a VPS is just as bad as dedicated hosting but you do not have the perks of having the power of dedicated hosting. Planting your roots in a VPS for too long isn’t a great plan for the long term.
What Is Shared Hosting
I have mentioned this a few times, so it is best explain it. Shared hosting is the cheapest possible hosting option and should be reserved for the smallest of websites. Shared hosting is limited in every single way. The benefit comes in that it is super easy to setup.
Shared hosting is when a web server, running something like Apache, is configured to host multiple websites. It is a completely shared environment. If one website gets a flood of traffic, it will slow down all other websites and if it crashes the server, all websites on this server crash too.
If you are hosting a small website for your local business and do not get a huge amount of traffic, shared hosting is often perfect. Websites like hostgator are quite popular for shared hosting. You point your domain at them and they take care of everything else, you will never need to worry about web server configuration.
Another benefit of shared hosting is that you can often upgrade to a better package with a single click. If you find your website is growing and needs more resources, a one click upgrade will do everything you need. There is an upper limit for most of these and when you hit this limit, you will need to move up to a VPS.
Shared Hosting Or Dedicated hosting
When deciding whether to go with shared or dedicated hosting, you need to ask yourself a question. How popular will this website be in a years time, 5 years time, 10 years time etc?
If you are running a website to provide some basic information about your local store or business, but you do not do business online, then it is unlikely that you need dedicated hosting. Dedicated hosting is best used for websites where the focus is business flowing through this website. Dynamic websites that are going to grow and grow, I would always suggest going toward a VPS at minimum.