Web Hosting: What it is & Which to Choose

Here at Sparrow, we understand that not everyone knows the ins and outs of website setup and the technicality of hosting. We aim to unpack some common questions and educate you on the various hosting options available. So, let’s start with what it is, move on to unpacking the different types and their various pros and cons, and end with some common questions about them.

What is Web Hosting?

The technical answer to this question (which I found on Google) is that web hosting is when a company (a host) provides space on one of their servers for websites to store their files. The files that make up a website, like the coding and images, are available online to view; but they are stored on a server (or a computer that is accessible to the public) elsewhere.

If you want a word picture (courtesy of Justin), hosting is the equivalent to paying for the land on which your house is built.  You can’t just decide to build a house and have nowhere to actually place it.  In order for your house to work, it has to be planted somewhere.

Building a website = building a house

Hosting = plot of land your house is on

Servers provide a home for all the data (all the photos, videos, contact files, etc) on your website. All that information has to live somewhere. So, your hosting platform (the one you have to pick once you build a website) has a server that keeps all your data and allows you to see it whenever you search for it. 

Okay, now that we have the basics on what exactly hosting is, you need to know that there are a few different kinds from which to pick.  They are not all created equal, so choose carefully.

What types are there?

In the world of hosting, there are three main types. They each have their list of pros and cons, with one of them really not being worth your time and money, depending on your needs and how you’ll be using your website. We here at Sparrow want to only promote the best tools for our clients. We understand that some people may require different things based on the function of their website. So, we will guide you to the best of our ability.

1. Shared Hosting |  $3 – $6/month

For the majority of our clients, shared hosting is a terrible option. So, let’s talk about it. First of all, shared hosting means that you have a plot of land (a server) with hundreds or even thousands of houses (websites) on it. With so many sites being served at the same time, the cost is quite low which is the main appeal; but, as you can imagine, the risks are quite high.

Pros:

  • Cheap

Cons:

  • The load time is much slower
  • The server can get overloaded by the mass of websites sharing it
  • Your website will perform worse as you get higher levels of traffic
  • Any website that gets a virus happily shares it with anyone housed on the same server
  • Very little customization for high performance level of your website

Most people who are building their first website will choose shared hosting. The thing to keep in mind is, if you are using your website as a gallery to display your work and you don’t depend on your website for your livelihood (needing it for blog posts, outreach campaigns, etc.), shared hosting may be a decent option. But if you require lots of marketing strategy and outreach for survival, you will want to choose something different.

2. Dedicated Hosting |  Costs $100+/month

As with our example of plots of land and houses, a dedicated server is a plot of land reserved for only one or two houses. This makes each business’s website capable of handling lots of traffic.

Pros:

  • Unlimited bandwidth and disk space
  • High speed
  • Full accessibility
  • Security
  • Technical assistance

Cons:

  • More expensive
  • Required technical knowledge (or paying someone to do that for you)

Businesses that do a lot of online sales, process payment transactions through their website, or have lots of traffic should consider choosing a dedicated server for their hosting needs. 

3. Virtual Servers / Cloud-based (Satellite) | Costs vary $15-65/month depending on features and bandwidth

Cloud hosting is a service that exists on multiple servers instead of one shared server. Cloud hosting can perform better and has unlimited space available for everything you would need.

Pros:

  • No hardware required, so less cost upfront
  • Fewer maintenance issues
  • Technical assistance for setup, maintenance, and any licensing needed
  • The server is close to wherever the client is (it’s virtual)
  • Increased efficiency for workload
  • Using less natural resources

Cons:

  • Higher monthly costs
  • Potential compatibility issues
  • Service agreements can be altered
  • Have no independent control of your server

If you are starting a new business website, cloud hosting may be a better option for you.

If you are on shared hosting and realize – based on this article or others (LIKE THIS ONE) – that you need to get off for the safety of your business and your customer’s information, we can help transfer and set that up if you are on WordPress.The bottom line at Sparrow is we want to tell you what the research says is best for your business and help you make informed decisions that will only help you grow and succeed. If you have any questions, just ask!

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