As most business owners know, nowadays having a website has become indispensable. However, websites do not only need to be there, but also must be fully functional, manageable, and reliable. Due to this reason, choosing the correct hosting package is essential. But what guidelines should a company follow when it comes to buying a hosting package? This article will review the different types of web hosting solutions.
Generally speaking, we can differentiate between free and paid hosting packages. However, and since free hosting packages are usually characterised by obtrusive advertising and poor security feaures, this article will concentrate on describing the different types of paid hosting packages.
Paid hosting packages: the differences that buyers need to be familiar with
The majority of paid hosting packages can be classified into managed or unmanaged. A managed hosting solution offers technical help and an expert system administrator in addition to the hosting services per se. On the other hand, unmanaged hosting packages could be the ideal solution for those companies that already have an IT department in-house.
Shared hosting packages
These are by far the most popular packages. Shared hosting packages offer to host a website in a physical server that serves hundreds or even thousands of other websites. While they are certainly economical, they can present uptime and availability problems if other websites experience a sudden surge in traffic.
Semi-dedicated hosting packages
These are similar to shared packages in that a website shares a server with other sites. However, the number of websites hosted is significantly lower than in shared packages, therefore allocating more resources to each client.
Dedicated hosting packages
As their name suggests, dedicated packages host a website in its own allocated and autonomous server. They are often the most expensive type of hosting solution, which makes them ideal for large organisations or websites with high traffic.
Virtual hosting packages
In recent years, cloud computing has developed to the extent that it has become the favourite solution of businesses both in the private and in the public sector. Cloud computing also offers hosting packages, which have the advantage of guaranteeing 100% uptime for any website. There are two main types of virtual hosting solutions: cloud and clustered packages.
Cloud hosting packages (sometimes also called grid hosting packages) provide remote storage of the resources needed by a website, therefore liberating clients from the restrictions placed by traditional hosting packages that depend on a physical environment. Uninterrupted uptime can be guaranteed since cloud hosting packages resort to many different servers at a time. Another distinct advantage of cloud hosting solutions is that they are automatically scalable, therefore allowing clients to access more computing power for their websites as and when they require it.
Clustered hosting packages are similar to cloud solutions. They also provide enhanced website availability due to their use of multiple servers.
Yet another type of virtual hosting solution is the VPS (virtual private server). These packages make use of a clustered physical server which can host many users at the same time. However, due to their specific configuration, they can work as dedicated servers and therefore provide a much more secure and efficient hosting solution.
Other aspects to be taken into consideration
Regardless of the hosting package that you choose, there are other elements that need to be taken into consideration when it comes to ascertaining if a given hosting solution will suit your needs. Some of these elements include:
- The amout of web space offered in each package. The larger and busier a website is, the more space and speed it will require
- Whether the hosting package includes e-mail accounts. E-mail accounts are not to be confused with e-mail addresses, which are offered for free in most hosting packages. Larger companies with separate departments will require separate e-mail accounts. If you need to access your company’s e-mail from locations other than the office, enquire about web-based e-mail accounts
- The type of server that will host a website. Almost all hosting packages run on Linux servers, but in some cases, clients might require a (more expensive) Windows server
- The size of data transfer allowances. These must be ample in order to prevent a website from “collapsing” due to an increased number of visitors
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