The Most Common Тypes of Web Hosting Explained

Daniel Wabuge
Daniel Wabuge

Updated · Aug 19, 2022

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Knowing about the different types of web hosting before creating a website is vital. With tons of options around, selecting the right one can be a little confusing.

But worry not - I’ve got your back.

Today, you’ll learn about:

  • What web hosting is and how it works
  • Nine different types of web hosting
  • Pros and cons of each
  • How to pick the best host

So, whether you’re a beginner or looking to upgrade, you’ll be able to choose with confidence.

Let’s jump right in!

What is Web Hosting?

Web hosting is a service that makes digital content viewable online on a site. It comprises server space you rent to house files like images, scripts, documents, etc.

Website hosts are responsible for offering such solutions on the market. Apart from that, they also provide hardware and software maintenance, alongside guaranteeing security. 

You'll get an allocation matching your budget when you purchase. The pricing for the different types of hosting services depends on the following resources: 

  • CPU: This is the brainchild of the server. It handles the tasks. Hosts bill customers based on the processing power they allocate to each plan. 
  • RAM: This hardware offers short-term memory to keep data temporarily for fast access. The larger the size, the higher the price. 
  • Storage: This is a device that keeps data in permanent form. The size depends on the amount you’re paying.  
  • Bandwidth: Hosts allocate monthly internet traffic that can either be limited or unlimited.

Other factors influence the prices, as you’re about to find out. Some examples include additional hardware like GPU, resource sharing, customer support, and more.

Types of Website Hosting

You already know you have a lot of options. Depending on the plans, they can come with either shared or dedicated resources. 

You can also get a physical server that’s entirely yours at a premium price. Besides that, current technology additionally includes cloud setups that are robust and reliable.

That said, the leading web hosting types include: 

Other services that don’t fall under any specific category are as follows: 

Here are the specifics for each one of them:

Shared Hosting

Shared web hosting is the most preferred service on the market. As the name suggests, it allows customers to use a single server to run websites.

Users equally share the available resources like CPU, RAM, storage, etc. As such, vendors put limitations in place to prevent any abuse.

A good example is GoDaddy which has aggressive restrictions to minimize overuse. But others like SiteGround allocate a decent amount of traffic to users.

Sharing of resources comes with the advantage of low subscription costs.

Pros

  • Requires no technical knowledge to use
  • Affordable plans with the option of upgrading to higher tiers.
  • Offers best in the industry control panels like cPanel, Direct Admin, Plesk, CyberPanel, etc.
  • Free server maintenance and administration

Cons 

  • Slow performance due to resource restrictions
  • Abuse by a few customers can affect other users on the system
  • There are restrictions on the software and apps that you can host
  • Customizing the server is next to impossible

Best for: This basic web hosting suits beginners and lightweight websites.

VPS Hosting

A virtual private server (VPS) is a type of hosting that provides beefy resources than shared plans. With this service, you’ll enjoy enhanced performance and freedom of customization.

VPSs run on a single server that’s partitioned into multiple containerized units. They are not dependent of each other and offer dedicated resources for your convenience.

Unlike shared hosting, you won’t get a control panel with most virtual servers. Instead, you’ll find root access for installing any type of app you wish.

This requires technical knowledge lest you risk bogging down your VPS. However, hosts like Liquid Web charge a premium to do the dirty work for you. 

The pricing for virtual servers depends on the resources you get.  Plans come in different configurations to cater to customers based on needs.

Pros

  • Dedicated resources for running your projects
  • Supports customization using root access
  • Offers better performance of apps and websites
  • Handles more traffic than shared hosting
  • Highly stable and easy to scale

Cons

  • Costs a bit higher than shared hosting
  • Requires technical knowledge
  • Some web hosts have restrictions on apps you can run
  • Customers still share a server with others
  • A managed VPS service is expensive

Best for: VPS servers are perfect for hosting high-traffic websites and lightweight apps.

Dedicated Hosting   

Dedicated website hosting is a service where customers rent an entire server. You benefit from working in a sorrounding that’s free from noisy neighbors.

As a user, you’ll get the exclusive rights to virtually run any apps. You can also take complete control of maintaining your system and optimizing security.

Dedicated servers offer robust resources to host projects of any size. But the high pricing can be out of reach to average users.

You also need technical expertise to use this service. And like with VPS, managed support costs an arm and a leg. 

Besides that, performance is snappy, and you can scale on demand. You can also build an entire network by grouping dedicated web servers to work simultaneously.

Pros

  • High computing power
  • Complete control of your server
  • Stable performance
  • High availability of services
  • Better privacy and security

Cons

  • It’s expensive to rent a dedicated server
  • It requires technical expertise to manage the service
  • Servers need frequent software and security updates
  • Most enterprise scripts cost extra
  • Some hosts restrict bandwidth usage and may charge overage

Best for: This virtual server hosting is suitable for high-performance websites and apps like ecommerce, video streaming, and gaming.

Cloud Hosting

Web hosting in the cloud is simply a VPS service on steroids. It comprises a distributed network of servers that have high availability

The technology offers an unlimited pool of resources that are upgradable on-demand. Furthermore, scaling or downscaling is instant with zero downtimes whatsoever.

Customers additionally get to benefit from the use of fail-safe infrastructure. As such, it distributes your apps across multiple systems to enhance uptime

The flexibility of pricing is another of its core advantages. Unlike other hosting types, billing is hourly-based making it easy to control your spending.

Here’s an overview of the pros and cons:

Pros

  • Instant allocation of hosting resources
  • Hourly-based billing is ideal for scaling and downscaling on demand
  • Instant upgrading and downgrading of hosting plan
  • Easy to monitor and manage usage
  • Fast server response time and lower network latency

Cons

  • Limited customization of servers
  • Requires technical know-how to manage
  • Most vendors don’t allow email hosting
  • Unpredictable traffic can lead to higher costs
  • Some services, such as IPs, firewalls, and backups, may cost extra. 

Best for: Cloud hosting fits apps with a high computing power demand. These include forex trading, weather forecasting, artificial intelligence, and more.

Managed Hosting

Managed hosting is a service that comes with round-the-clock technical support. In this case, the vendor takes full responsibility for managing servers and offering security.

There are limits on the types of apps that customers can use. This ensures hosts provide a speedy response for handling software they’re familiar with.

Users on managed web hosting also benefit from a wide range of add-ons. These include but are not limited to:

  • Free SSLs
  • Control panels, e.g. cPanel, Plesk, Direct Admin, CyberPanel, etc.
  • Free website migrations
  • Website builder

The service is usually available on shared plans out of the box. But vendors either include or charge it separately on VPS, dedicated, and cloud tiers.

Pros

  • It doesn’t require technical expertise
  • It's time-saving when it comes to server management
  • You get to enjoy 24/7 technical support
  • Your server will always be up to date
  • It reduces the risk of breaking down your system

Cons

  • It's expensive on VPS, dedicated, and cloud hosting plans
  • You may lack total control of your system
  • Some technical issues can take time to resolve
  • Customizations may cost extra
  • Some hosts include limits on resource usage

Best for: Managed hosting is for beginners that need an easy way to run websites/apps. Likewise, experts that dislike fumbling with code can utilize it as well.

Unmanaged Hosting

Unmanaged hosting is a type of hosting that includes limited services from the vendor. Hosts are only responsible for maintaining the hardware and network.

The heavy day-to-day tasks of running the server are on you, the customer. Some include software updates, security checks, monitoring, performance optimization, etc.

You get root access for operating your system from the inside. Furthermore, you can install custom software to make your work easier.

The affordability of this service is something worth smiling about. Unlike managed web hosting, you’ll benefit from low pricing unless you order extra add-ons.

Pros 

  • Affordable prices on VPS, dedicated, and cloud hosting
  • Complete control of server administration
  • Freedom to run custom apps
  • Ability to optimize security and performance
  • Control resource usage of websites depending on needs

Cons

  • Server management is time-consuming
  • Organizations may require to hire technical staff to run tasks
  • You may lag behind pushing critical updates to your system
  • Hosts can charge to fix glitches arising from any misuse of service
  • Most enterprise software and apps cost extra

Best for: Unmanaged hosting is suitable for experts working on a budget. Beginners that want to learn server administration can also use it.

Colocation

Colocation involves the leasing of data center space to manage your servers. It’s among the fast-rising hosting options for businesses that have limited room within their premises.

Vendors usually provide power, cooling, bandwidth, and IP addresses. Moreover, it's their duty to protect and safeguard customer equipment.

You benefit from low bandwidth costs since the machine is yours. But server administration tasks are entirely on you.

Colocation gives businesses the flexibility of expanding infrastructure with confidence. All they have to do is rent additional space for more hardware.

Pros

  • Lower bandwidth costs
  • Cheaper to rent office space
  • On-site power backup
  • High availability of services
  • Easy to scale IT infrastructure

Cons

  • Requires IT staff to manage
  • Start-up costs for the service are high
  • It’s challenging to find a data center near you
  • Managing the servers is time-consuming
  • Requires frequent visits to the colocation center

Best for: Colocation hosting services suit companies that need an off-site location for their servers.

WordPress Hosting

WordPress is the most popular web host solution on the market. Over 43% of websites run on this content management system (CMS).

Some of the vendors of this service include:

The service is fully-optimized for websites to take advantage of the platform. It offers one-click installs for plugins, themes, and scripts.

The CMS also is easy to use and update content. It’s mostly available on shared and VPS plans. But you can easily install it on a dedicated or cloud server.

Other related web hosting platforms that vendors provide comprise:

  • Magento
  • WooCommerce
  • Joomla

Pros 

  • Easy to use and manage content
  • One-click installation scripts
  • Free SSL certificates
  • Access to WordPress repository that has over 50,000 resources for free.
  • Plans are fully-managed

Cons

  • WordPress VPS plans are expensive
  • Limited resource usage on shared plans
  • Some scripts may slow down your website
  • Some plugins may compromise your security
  • Most hackers target sites hosted on WordPress

Best for: It’s for beginners and professional website owners.

Reseller Hosting

Reseller web hosting is an arrangement for selling part of your resources to other users. It’s also suitable for managing an extensive catalog of websites. 

Service providers offer preconfigured plans that you can purchase. Likewise, they limit the number of customers that can host on the system.

Another alternative is to purchase a high specs VPS, dedicated or cloud server. From here, install virtualization software that containerizes your machine for reselling. 

As a reseller, you earn money by charging your customers a fee. They can also reach out to you and seek assistance.

Vendors like InMotion, however, offer white-label support. That means you can use your branding to make your services professional and appealing.

Pros

  • The start-up costs are low
  • Preconfigured plans are easy to use
  • Basic reseller plans don’t require technical expertise
  • There’s room to scale your resources
  • White-label support allows you to build your brand

Cons

  • Prepackaged plans have limited resources
  • It’s time-consuming to market your services
  • It takes time before you start earning an income
  • Your customers need your attention fulltime
  • Clients will turn on you if your server goes down

Best for: It’s for users that need to make a living through income-generating activities online. The service is suitable for startups as well.

Now that you know all types of web hosting, let’s check how to choose the right one.

What Type of Hosting Is Best for Your Website?

Choosing a host is entirely dependent on your needs. You must examine your budget, monthly traffic, and future plans.

Your website type should guide your decision as well. For example, low-cost tiers are perfect for basic sites.

But ecommerce and demanding apps require dedicated or cloud hosting servers.

Here’s a roundup of all web hosting types and whom they suit:

  • Shared Hosting: Ideal for beginners and low-traffic websites.
  • VPS Hosting: Good for sites that need more resources than shared plans.
  • Dedicated Hosting: The best option for high-traffic websites and demanding apps.  
  • Cloud Hosting: Great for applications that require high computing power. 
  • Colocation Services: For businesses that need ownership and total control of their hardware.   
  • Managed Hosting: Suits non-tech-savvy users and experts that prefer not to handle technical tasks.  
  • Unmanaged Hosting: Perfect for professionals that don’t shy away from coding. 
  • Reseller Hosting: Suitable for freelancers, agencies, and developers that need income-generating opportunities.

Wrap Up

Web hosting is a must-have in today's world that’s increasingly going digital. It allows you to take your business online and win more customers.

Beginners can also utilize it to benefit from endless opportunities on the internet. As for hobbyists, it provides a way to build a portfolio of memories from adventures. 

Okay, now you know all there is about the different types of web hosting. It’s your turn to pick the one that suits your website/application.

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Daniel Wabuge

Daniel Wabuge

Daniel is a curious thinker that loves everything about tech. If he spots something interesting, rest assured that he’ll reverse-engineer it. Apart from being an internet addict, he loves building web servers from scratch. Well, it’s not his profession per se. But it’s a passion he picked up after a series of unfortunate events involving terrible hosts. He’s the “hosting guy”.

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