Shared vs Dedicated Server vs VPS vs Cloud Hosting

If you are looking to start a new website or upgrade, chances are that you’ve seen there are several different types of hosting with greatly varied price ranges. Shared, VPS, and dedicated hosting are the most seen offerings, but there’s also a newcomer popping up among web hosting providers: cloud hosting. So between shared, dedicated server, VPS, and cloud… which should you use to host your website?

This is a question that really comes down to your needs. But first, let’s cover a little information about web hosting itself.

Web hosting is a means to share content with the world. This may be a business portfolio, a photo album, an online business, a blog… the possibilities are endless. Web hosting doesn’t come for free, though. The pricing can vary between $2 all the way up to $500 a month, so it’s easy to see why someone would get confused about what kind of web hosting they need.

By the end of this article, you should have a better idea of what kind of web hosting you should go with.

Shared Hosting

Shared hosting is called “shared” because you share space on a server with many other websites. The space and bandwidth you get depends on which tiered shared hosting plan you choose. The processor and memory are shared between your website and others. This could be compared to sharing your apartment with roommates. Sure, you have to share living space, but you get a better deal on rent and utilities. For most people, this is all that is needed to host their website. But for others, it may not be enough.

Shared hosting is also best for beginners because there are a lot of point and click tools that come with it to make creating and hosting a website a lot easier. These tools all come on a neatly arranged administration page so you can click on whatever you need to do. Out of all the different types of web hosting, shared hosting is also the cheapest.

Pros:

  • It’s simple and easy to use
  • It’s very affordable
  • There’s no complicated setup

Cons:

  • You have to share a server with other websites
  • You don’t have full control over your website

If all the different types of web hosting were arranged on a ladder, shared web hosting would be the first rung. This type of web hosting is best for those who just want a little space and bandwidth for a low price. It’s ideal for beginners, new websites, and those who need to stick to a tight budget.

VPS

VPS is an acronym for virtual private server. Just like the name suggests, VPS hosting is very similar to having your own server, but it’s virtualized – you still share space on a server with other websites. However, you get a certain amount of processing power and memory reserved only for your exclusive use. This is more like renting an apartment. Now you’ve got your own space to do (almost) whatever you wish with, and if you get managed VPS you will have someone to maintain the apartment for you.

With VPS hosting, you still get an administration panel to help you complete different tasks related to creating your website. What tools you get depends greatly on the web hosting provider. However, setting up the website is strictly your business, unlike shared web hosting.

Pros:

  • No shared processing or memory with other sites
  • Faster than shared web hosting
  • More powerful than shared web hosting

Cons:

  • Costs more than shared hosting
  • More technical setup process

If all the different web hosting options were arranged on a ladder, VPS hosting would be the second rung on the ladder. This kind of web hosting is best for those who need more than shared web hosting has to offer, but want to get it done at a lower price than dedicated hosting offers. It’s ideal for intermediate web administrators and established websites that need more power and speed.

Cloud Hosting

Cloud hosting is very similar to VPS hosting in that you still have a certain amount of processing power and memory allocated to you. However, this is where the similarities end. With cloud hosting, the environment is more virtualized to be like owning your own in house server. There is no helpful administration panel to work with building your website, and you give instructions directly to a full operating system that is designed to virtualize a server. Cloud pricing is a lot different too, as it goes by a needs based model in which you only pay for the processing power, space, memory, and bandwidth that you actually use. In some cases, this may make it more affordable than VPS hosting while still giving you the extra processing power, memory, and bandwidth that you need.

Where VPS would be like renting an apartment, cloud hosting is like buying a condo. You get full control over your space and are responsible for everything that happens there, including maintenance, even though you are sharing the building with other tenants.

Pros:

  • Just as powerful as VPS
  • Gives you more control over a server operating system
  • In some cases, it may be cheaper than VPS

Cons:

  • It’s hard to gauge the exact cost to operate since pricing is based on usage
  • It’s very technical

Cloud hosting would be like the third rung on our imaginary ladder. It’s best for folks that don’t mind getting a little technical to get full control over their server and VPS like performance at a fraction of the cost. It’s ideal for advanced web administrators and well established websites.

Dedicated Hosting

Dedicated hosting gives you an entire server to yourself. You don’t have to share space, processing power, memory, or bandwidth with anyone else. This would be like mortgaging a house. You are completely responsible for everything that happens, including the maintenance and upkeep. There is no helpful administrative panel with dedicated hosting, either – you get complete and full access to your server. This, of course, is the most expensive web hosting option.

Pros:

  • Complete control over an entire server
  • The best power and speed possible

Cons:

  • Highly technical
  • Expensive

Dedicated hosting is the fourth and final rung on the ladder. It is like the luxury sedan of the web hosting world. It’s best for folks that don’t mind getting highly technical to get complete control and access to a full server. It’s most ideal for advanced web administrators and large, powerful websites.

Picking a Web Hosting Provider

Picking a web hosting provider can be a bit of a chore, but it’s made easier by review sites like Hosting reviews. In particular combines expert reviews with user ratings and reviews, so you can get a full, clear picture of what each web hosting provider is like and which web hosting providers are the best ones to use. Here are some additional tips on how to pick a good web hosting provider:

  • Reliability – Make sure the web hosting provider you choose has been in business a long time and is still doing well. The last thing you want is for your new web hosting provider to close its doors right after you’ve set up your website.
  • Technical Support – Make sure your web hosting provider uses technical support mediums you are comfortable using (phone, chat, or email) and that they give 24/7 access to support. If you need help, you will want it to be in a way you’re comfortable using. You will also want to be sure to get a speedy reply if it’s an emergency, like your server going down.
  • Uptime – A good web hosting provider always offers a money-back guarantee or extra hosting credits if they do not maintain at least 99% uptime. The last thing you want is for your website to be constantly down and not have any options for being compensated for the trouble.
  • Free Domain – You will want this especially if you are paying for VPS and/or dedicated hosting. It’s only right that your web hosting provider give you your domain name for free if you are paying a large sum of money upfront.
  • Location – Make sure the location of the web hosting provider’s data center is in the area that your audience is coming from. This will help greatly improve the speed that your pages get served up with, as the data will have to travel a shorter distance to reach them.