It’s easy to overlook the importance of your web hosting plan, but the type of web hosting package you purchase can sometimes have a pretty big impact on the functionality and growth of your business. However, it can be difficult to know at first whether you need shared or dedicated hosting, whether or not cloud hosting is good for your website, or what kinds of modifications you might want to make to the hosting environment.
The mistake most people make is to purchase the type of web hosting their website needs right now. But what you really need to think about is what kind of hosting requirements your website will (realistically) need in the future.
What Resources Does Your Site Need?
The biggest question you need to ask yourself is what kind of site you plan on running. There are basically four types of business websites, and each one typically requires slightly different resources. The smallest type of business site is, of course, a “basic” site. With one to five pages, this is the type of site typically run by self-employed individuals or small businesses that are connected to physical stores.
If this is you, then a shared hosting plan should cover all of your site’s needs. There’s almost no way this kind of site would use enough resources to justify the cost of a VPS or dedicated hosting plan. These sites are also small enough that they don’t require a lot of bandwidth or storage space. Though your resources on a shared hosting plan are limited, they should keep your site loading quickly and running properly.
If your small business is entirely digital, however, you might need a bit more resources, and you’ll certainly want to generate as much traffic as possible. Your site will also probably rely on more complex plug-ins or content. If this is you, a shared plan may still be ok if you’re just starting out, but your best bet is probably a cloud hosting plan. Since cloud hosts spread your resources across a network of servers, your resource allocation can grow or shrink as your site needs it. This means that, while your site is still growing, you’ll save money on hosting that you can put toward expanding the business. However, if and when your site does see an uptick in traffic, the clustered resources available to cloud-hosted sites means that downtime is nearly impossible.
If you run a full-on eCommerce site, however, then you’re probably going to have problems with a shared hosting site once you start doing a more successful business. If your site continues to grow and use up a lot of resources, cloud hosting can become expensive as well. If you’re running an eCommerce, you’re also going to have access to a lot of sensitive customer information, and so you need to consider the security of your data as well.
VPS Host vs. Dedicated Server
For these reasons, VPS hosting is often the choice for eCommerce sites. When you purchase a VPS hosting plan, you are purchasing access to your own virtual server. Like shared hosting, VPS plans put multiple users on the same physical server. However, unlike shared hosting, VPS hosts carve separate virtual servers out of the physical server. So even though there will technically be other users on the same server, you’ll never know it. All of the resources allocated to your VPS are for your sites alone. No other users can access your resources, and the activity of site on other servers won’t have any impact on the performance of your sites.
Even if you run a huge site, or you expect your site to grow into something huge, the resources you get with a VPS plan are typically enough to keep your site online and loading at a good speed. The only reason to purchase a physical dedicated server is if your business website also functions as a database. Databases take up a crazy amount of resources, especially big ones, and so businesses that run on databases often max out on resources, even when they’re hosted by VPS.
The next step up from VPS is a physical dedicated server. Since dedicated servers are incredibly expensive, the only real reason to do this is if your site is unprecedentedly huge.