Types of webhosting
This article is about the different types of hosting (the most common options) available on the market. Each section will have ‘Pros’ and ‘Cons’ and a section about hosting forums. I hope this article will help you make an informed choice.
‘Free’ stuff is all the rage nowadays
Funnily enough, free hosts are out to make money some way or another. They may do this by encouraging you to sign up for their paid hosting plans or by putting adverts and popups on your site.
Free hosting is simple, you get hosting....for free. Unfortunately, the saying "You get what you pay for" comes into effect. Free hosting will come with drawbacks somehow, there is no such thing as ‘perfect’ ‘free’ hosting.
• It’s Free!
• Good for people new to web hosting
• Can provide some features of paid hosting
• Slow website speed - Free hosts will put as many websites on a server as they can to save money
• A Limit on bandwidth and/or space - You won't get enough space/bandwidth to host a popular website or forum.
• No or limited support - Most free hosts will give you your free webhosting then ignore you. Don't expect them to give up their time to help newbies with their first website.
• Adverts - More often than not, free hosts will stick dirty great banner ads on your site or bombard your visitors with popup.
• Limited Options - You can forget about fancy software like Cpanel, ensime and Fantastico.
• Nasty Small Print - Be careful, free hosts can catch you out with their TOS which may be in very small print. Such things as ‘MySQL databases are limited to 10MB’ and ‘Websites are limited to a maximum of 100 pages’
As you can see, there are a lot more ‘Cons’ than ‘Pros’
Free hosting and forums
Forums require several more features than websites. Your free host will need:
• PHP supported
• At least one MySQL database for your forum, Make sure that you can have at least a 5MB database.
• Some way to manage your database - PHPMyAdmin is a useful way to manage your database.
Hosting a forum on a free host can be a hassle; you have to find a host that has enough Database Space and Storage Space as well as PHP supported and 1 MySQL database. Therefore I don’t recommend using a free host for your forum.
Shared hosting is the most common type of hosting available, and will suit most people. Shared hosting is for Small/Medium personal and business websites or forums. Shared hosting is where web hosts place many websites on one server; you are allocated a quota of bandwidth and space. Shared hosting comes with many more features than free hosting as shared hosting is a paid service.
• Cpanel, Ensim or other control panel
• Much more bandwidth and space quota
• MySQL Databases, PHP supported as well as other scripting languages
• Webmail, POP mail boxes and e-mail diversion.
• E-mail Spam filters
• Other Script languages supported
• Support/FAQ/Knowledge base
• Many sites placed on one server, accounts can affect each other. This slows down your website
• No control over what is installed on the server. You have to find a host that supports what you need
• Not secure enough to store sensitive data such as credit card numbers
Overall, shared hosting provides a cost effective way of getting your site or forum online. It is suitable for the vast majority of internet users.
Shared Hosting and Forums
Shared hosting is the first option you should consider for small/medium forums. Most plans will allow you to have the resources you need to host a forum at a small cost. Nearly all hosts now have PHP support and MySQL databases. Again, you should check if they impose a limit on the size of a MySQL database.
Some hosts offer specialized plans for forums, IPS run a hosting service (http://www.invisionzone.com/)
VPS (Virtual Private Server) Hosting
VPS is seen as the step between Shared hosting and dedicated servers. VPS is where although there are several clients on the same server, the server has been partitioned so that each client has root privileges for that partition and can customize the server more than they could on a shared host. Clients are allocated resources, such as 10% CPU usage each, this way client’s accounts do not affect each other unlike shared hosting.
• Faster Website - You have more resources and your website will not be affected by other accounts on the server.
• Customisation of 'Server' - With root privileges, you can do more to customize your 'server' to your and your member’s needs
• Cheaper than dedicated server - Much cheaper
• More bandwidth/Space - Much more than shared
• More 'Extras' - such as MySQL Databases, webmail accounts etc.
• More expensive than shared hosting
• Knowledge of server management required
VPS and forums
VPS will allow you to install MySQL and PHP scripting if it’s not already installed. This allows you to have greater control over the database as you have root access. You and your members will certainly see a speed increase if you switch to VPS hosting.
Reseller hosting is where you buy hosting from a company and can (re)sell it to people. This gives the opportunity to make some money. With reseller hosting, you do not have to worry about the infrastructure of hosting (Such as datacenters, servers etc.)
• Opportunity to make some money
• More Space and Bandwidth
• More ‘Extras’ (MySQL databases, webmail etc.)
• No need to worry about the infrastructure of hosting websites
• More expensive than shared hosting
• If your host goes down, so do you and all your clients
• Web hosting requires knowledge of server management. Its not all one click accounts
Choose wisely when selecting a reseller hosting provider, if they go down then you will have many unhappy clients.
Reseller Hosting and Forums
Unless you need the extra space and bandwidth or other extras then there is not much point in using a reseller plan.
The big daddy of hosting! Your own rented server When you purchase a dedicated server, you are renting your own server. For allot of money, you get a server which only has your website on it.
• Loads of space and bandwidth - I mean loads
• Ability to fully customize the server - You can install software, change root settings and other options that are not available with other types of hosting
• Huge increase in speed - With the server only hosting one site, the site can be reached by visitors much faster.
• Can customize server hardware - Request a memory upgrade, ask for a new hard drive, upgrade the CPU etc.
• More secure than other types of hosting
• Expensive monthley free and sometimes expensive setup fee
• Knowledge required to manage server remotely to install software, customize settings etc
There are two types of plans that are avalible for dedicated servers. UnManaged and Managed plans.
Managed plans are where the host takes responsibility for the server. They will update the software, perform maintenance and ensure server uptime. This way, you can rely on the host to take care of the technical side of the server. This is suited for people who have little or no experience of server management.
This service comes at a much higher price than unmanaged servers.
Unmanaged plans are the opposite of Managed plans. They place the responsibility of managing and maintaining the server in your hands. This is suitable for people who have experience in server management. Unmanaged plans are allot cheaper than Managed plans.
Dedicated Hosting and Forums
Dedicated hosting is a must for large forums. Dedicated servers provide the option to fully customize the server and install the software that you need to provide the best service to your members.
You can do pretty much anything with the server.
Again, if you are going for unmanaged, make sure you have the knowledge required to run the server…
Deciding which option to go for is easy once you have been informed about each type. This is what this article set out to do. Below is a list of recommended hosts (2 in each category to minimize ‘Which one should I go for?’ questions) and also a list of sites that review hosts.
Prices are constantly changing but here is a rough guide.
$7.00 To $10.00+ Per Month
$40.00 to $90.00+
$100.00 to $300.00+ per month