Dedicated, Shared & Virtual Hosting
Website hosting is one of the real powers behind the internet. Without it, there would be no way to display web sites or web pages. Without it there would be no email, at least not as we know it today.
What is website hosting?
Put simply, it is the act of locating information pages created in HTML (hypertext markup language)
or a derivative, on a special computer called a server, which is permanently linked to other servers by
plugging in to the worldwide tele-communications network. This permits extremely fast communication
between servers no matter where they are in the world, enabling web pages from servers which are
thousands of miles apart to appear on a web user's monitor almost instantly.
Website hosting comes in three main guises:
1 - Dedicated Hosting
2 - Shared Hosting
3 - Virtual Hosting
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As the name implies, you have exclusive use of a dedicated server which ensures you don't have the shared bandwidth problems that may be encountered with the other two types.
Generally speaking, dedicated servers are operated in two distinct ways:
- Owner Operated
- Third Party Operated
Owner Operated Dedicated Server
The term owner-operated refers more to the location and control of the server rather than
the financial aspects of ownership. In other words, the server is based at a location
controlled by the site owner and is 100% under the owner's control.
Whilst this has many benefits, it requires that the owner either has all the related skills, or
employs people with the relevant skills, to keep the server running efficiently, which can be
a very expensive operation.
Although the price of servers has reduced considerably in recent years, the cost of running,
maintaining and controlling the server is often prohibitive and tends to be limited to large
corporations with dedicated IT departments supported by appropriate staffing levels and
Third Party Operated Dedicated Server
By using a dedicated server which is operated, controlled and maintained by a third party,
the website owner gets the benefits of being the sole user of the server without any of the
worries about keeping it running.
This is the most popular dedicated server option for many businesses as it provides all the
benefits of ownership without any of the operating problems. With no operating
technicalities to worry about, the site owner can concentrate on developing the website
itself, either using in-house or external web design skills.
Although this was once quite an expensive option, prices are now within the reach of many
small businesses and SMEs. Charges are usually payable monthly based on an annual
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As the name implies, the user of a shared hosting service shares the server with a few other users. Like third-party dedicated servers, the shared-hosting servers are also owned and operated by a third party who looks after the servers from a maintenance and technical standpoint, leaving the site owner free to concentrate on the website itself.
Whilst there isn't really a downside to using a shared server, there is the possibility of bandwidth restrictions during periods of heavy or peak demand, particularly if all of the websites sharing the server are popular and attract a lot of traffic.
A shared hosting option is normally cheaper than a dedicated server, with rental payments being made on a monthly or annual basis. Most contracts are renewable annually.
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Virtual hosting is similar to a shared hosting facility, with website owners renting space from a third-party hosting provider. But, instead of having just a few users on each server, a virtual hosting server has many users. This can occasionally cause bandwidth problems during periods of peak demand, which may result in end users experiencing slightly slower response times than normal. However, as there are many causes of slow internet speeds, this may not be noticed by end users.
Due to the substantially lower costs involved, virtual hosting is by far the most popular option for small business and SME's, as it brings the cost of website hosting within the realms of virtually every business, no matter how small or how slender the budget.
Virtual hosting is also able to provide a choice of web space options, ranging from as low as 100Mb - sufficient for about 1500 pages at the optimum page size* - up to 3000Mb (3Gb) or more. This flexibility is popular with SMEs as it enables them to test the water with a relatively small initial investment and then increase their web space only when and if needed.
Many web design companies offer a virtual hosting facility as part of their range of services to their clients, thus helping to take some of the strain out of website ownership. In some instances the web design company will also manage the hosting for the client as part of a fully integrated web design package, which often also includes domain name management and search engine promotion options as well. Such packages are welcomed by SMEs with limited resources and lack of time or interest to learn web design and internet skills.
Virtual hosting is normally renewable on an annual basis whilst fees are generally payable quarterly or annually in advance.
*Recommended Optimum Page Size = 65,000 bytes
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What You Need To Know
|Hosting is the act of locating your domain name on an internet linked server. This gives you a permanent home for your domain name and enables you to use it for email purposes and to build a website.|
Is the term used to indicate that the hosting server is restricted for use exclusively by a single domain or company. The primary advantage is that you are not sharing bandwidth with anyone else, but this comes with a substantially higher price tag than the other options.
Is the term used to indicate that the hosting server is shared between a few different domain names and companies. You will be sharing bandwidth but only with a few others, and it is cheaper than dedicated hosting.
Indicates that several different domain names are using the same server. This option is generally cheaper than the other two options and is the hosting mode of choice for many small businesses and SMEs. However you are sharing bandwidth with several other domains which may cause problems during periods of peak demand.
Web Hosting Space
This is the amount of hard disk space you are allocated on the hosting server. If you have a dedicated server, then this could be anything from 10Gb upwards, whilst virtual hosting usually provides lower levels from 100Mb up to 3000Mb (3Gb). Surprisingly, many websites only need 10Mb or less.
Approx Space Required
10 Mb = 150 pages
50 Mb = 750 pages
100 Mb = 1500 pages
1000 Mb = 15000 pages
2000 Mb = 30000 pages
Based on max recommended page size of 65Kb
In simple terms, bandwidth indicates the volume of signals or traffic that can be transmitted down a tele-communications cable at any one time. In periods of peak demand for example, if the volume of signals (traffic) is greater than the capacity of the cable, this will create a bottleneck causing a general slowdown in the system. In extreme cases, this can lead to a complete traffic jam with virtually no signals getting through.
One of the major benefits of hosting is being able to use your domain name to form unlimited email addresses. Once a domain name is hosted, you can usually create any number of different email addresses by simply adding a name of your choice followed by an "@" sign in front of the domain name. For more information, click here.
Another benefit of hosting is the ability to use POP3 email accounts. They are specially created, password-controlled email addresses which enable specific individuals, departments or company executives to have their own secure email address. Click here for further POP3 info.