Distinction between Shared and Dedicated hosting

We discussed about hosting and servers. Now let us understand the distinctions between shared and dedicated hosting services. You need to decide which kind of hosting you need so you can opt for the same. This article is essentially written to help you evaluate both types of services and decide on the best type of hosting for your company.

Shared hosting. This is a big server where several websites are hosted. The hosting company installs, programmes and maintains the server and ensures that it is up and running through and through. As a webmaster your responsibility is limited to administering your website. This is the most cost effective option for small and medium businesses. While cheap, there is one big disadvantage. Due to various sites drawing varying amounts of traffic all the websites may become slow in loading.

Dedicated hosting. When you lease an entire server for your website alone then you are opting for dedicated hosting. This costs several times more than shared hosting, but the speed will be high. There are two distinctly different types of hosting offered when you lease a server: un-managed hosting and managed hosting. The former costs less but the onus on you will be higher, the latter while being expensive offers you a lot of advantages in terms of support, maintenance, security and services.

You have to carefully consider various issues such as costing, enterprise requirements, internet necessity for your business, future growth plans of your company etc before deciding on the type of hosting you need to opt for. If you wish to host a small and static site with little or no interactivity then you need to opt for shared hosting. But if you have a site where people can buy, pay online and interact with your employees then you should opt for dedicated hosting.

Given below is a small list of questions you need to ask yourself before you decide on the kind of hosting you need to go for in order to move your business online.
> How old is your enterprise?
> What do you deal with? What is your unique selling proposition?
> What are your basic and advanced requirements for hosting? If a hosting company is offering lot of services which you may not use should you opt for it?
> What is the space requirements for our company website? How much does it cost if our requirements increase over time?
> In shared hosting, is there any guaranteed bandwidth for my site?
> Does the hosting company set limits on traffic my site can get?
> Does the hosting company has growth plans like our business?
> What tracking mechanism do you employ to manage traffic to my site?
> Do you have any reporting mechanism to monitor traffic to my website?
> Does your company offer 24 hr support?
> Do you have methods to ensure that my website remains active even if your server is down?
> What about data security? How do you prevent hackers from demolishing my website?
> How do you backup your data? In case there is a fire or any natural disaster how do you prevent data loss?
> What will happen to us if your company goes under loss and closes down?
> How will you ensure a smooth transition if I wish to move to another server?
> Can they give you a few references?

Choosing your web hosting service provider?

With so many hosting service providers it is difficult to select the one which suits your needs properly. You can shorten this process by seeking some answers. Before venturing out into the market you should introspect and see if you can do it yourself? I.e. host your own site.

If yours is an online business and hosting a site is crucial for your enterprise it is not a good idea. Remember that hosting a site is not as simple as getting connected to internet. If you plan on hosting your own server you will have to employ an IT team which works 24/7 and it is simply not cost effective for small businesses. Hence outsourcing is the best option.

Remember that your website has to be available to browsers all the time. There are several companies which offer very cheap and even free hosting. But remember the old saying “When you pay peanuts you will get monkeys”. Don’t even contemplate about hosting your site on these servers. These servers don’t give any 24-hour up time warranty and are most of the time very weak in terms of security.

I agree that you need to choose the most cost effective option but you should never compromise on quality and security of the server which hosts your site.

One of the other important questions you need to decide is whether to go for shared or dedicated hosting. In the former the server space is shared by several similar companies like yours and works out quite affordable. Costs in shared hosting servers vary from $8-35 per month depending on the space consumed. But the downside of this is speed or rather the lack of it. Because so many sites are hosted on the same server, there will be lot more people accessing it and all the sites will get slow in loading.

If you lease a server exclusively to host your site then it is dedicated hosting. This will ensure that your site is fast and reliable. But it is expensive and may cost anywhere between $150-300 per month.

There are thousands of hosting companies, how do we decide which is the best? It is very difficult, even experts get taken for a ride. One of the best ways to decide on this is to research online, browsing your prospective hosts websites. Decide on the one’s you like and write to their webmasters and seek their opinions on the host. Another source of information could be review sites where you can read about the service quality of various hosting companies. Hand-pick one which is best suited for you in terms of pricing, space, security, after sales support etc.

Contact all the short listed hosting companies and discuss with them at length about their services and warranties. Put difficult queries and present hypothetical scenarios like how they will ensure uptime if there is a natural disaster like an earthquake, power failure etc, how they combat hackers etc. Ask for references from their existing customers and interact with them to verify the hosting company’s claims.

Moving from one server to another is even more difficult, there will be technology issues, environment issues, space etc to be combated with. You should find a hosting company which will patiently work with you till the transition is complete.