Whether your business has just launched or has outgrown its current resources, researching and selecting the perfect hosting solution for your product can be a confusing undertaking. Over the years, terminology within the hosting community has become a bit unclear. Many hosting providers blur the lines between different types of hosting in order to cut prices. The result is inferior products being sold under a “premium” label. While it may be tempting to go with the first option that seemingly meets your needs, gaining a deeper understanding of each type of hosting will allow you to make a more informed decision.
Shared hosting is the most basic, entry-level type of hosting. With shared hosting, a single physical server hosts anywhere from a few hundred to a few thousand customers. Shared servers offer inexpensive pricing by distributing hardware / operational costs among its many clients. Sites on a shared server draw from a communal allotment of server resources (i.e. RAM, processing, data storage) to serve incoming requests.
Site performance is not guaranteed with Shared Hosting due to the number of websites drawing on the same pool of system resources. When other customers experience increased traffic or heavy load, your site has the potential of being negatively impacted. Simply put, shared hosting is like living with roommates. While splitting expenses with other renters is cost effective, you will find yourself in direct competition with them for resources like hot water or open space.
Although the main draw of Shared Hosting is the pricing, it is also good for entry-level users that are unfamiliar with server management. Most of the advanced configuration options are disabled and typically all interactions are done through a web interface instead of command-line prompts. This makes shared hosting very approachable for beginning users who have a small website or product.
When considering Shared Hosting, be sure to assess your long-term needs. Scalability of resources are restricted on a shared server. This can have a direct impact on things like data growth, monthly traffic sustainability, access speed, and more. If your site / application is projected to grow at a steady rate, you may want to consider a more scalable option that will not leave you with downtime (such as a Cloud Server – see below).
Shared hosting is ideal for budget websites with low monthly traffic and minimal monthly growth that don't collect sensitive information.
Virtual Private Server (VPS) – a.k.a Virtual Servers
Similar to shared hosting, a Virtual Private Server (VPS) or Virtual Server is another inexpensive option that is a step above Shared Hosting. While VPS users still share space with others on a physical server, a VPS provides increased flexibility and admin control. VPS hosting allows the admin to specify the amount of memory, storage, and processing capacity needed. It also allows for increased control over the operating system and administrative settings.
While Virtual Private Servers offer more reliability over Shared Hosting, they are still tied to a single server. This means that your operating system image, data storage, and processing are all facilitated by the same server. If the server containing your VPS goes down, your product will also go offline. This also means that you will still be somewhat limited in the growth of your site. If your site / product grows beyond the resources that the server has available, it is not easily migrated without downtime due to the way a VPS is typically provisioned.
If you're considering a VPS, be sure to look for a VPS hosting provider that doesn't “oversell” server space. Similar to airlines overbooking flights, some providers will host hundreds of VPS images on the same server with the assumption that not every user will maximize their resource allowances. Knowing that resources will be underutilized, some hosts will oversell server space at the risk of performance. For example, if 100% of a server's resources can handle 500 websites and each site typically uses half of its resources, a VPS hosting provider could theoretically double the hosted sites to 1,000. This has the potential to affect all VPS users on the server during peak usage times. Conduct the necessary research to ensure you don't get placed on a server that's overcrowded.
A Virtual Private Server / Virtual Server is ideal for websites with low to moderate monthly traffic and slow monthly growth.
Cloud Servers – a.k.a Virtual Machines (VM)
Cloud Servers (or Virtual Machines) are a step up from Virtual Private Servers and are one of the most popular hosting solutions currently available. They are more reliable and scalable than VPS hosting because of how they're provisioned.
Unlike VPS hosting, your application / site data is never stored on the Cloud Server itself. Instead, the Cloud Server connects to a Storage Area Network (SAN) drive to access all of your site data. A SAN is a large RAID of hard drives often configured with an additional hot-failover unit. This provides high redundancy and virtually zero downtime. Since your data is centralized in the SAN, your website or application can immediately be switched over to another cloud server in the event of a failure. This make outages far less likely.
An additional advantage that comes along with Cloud Servers is scalability. Because all your data in centralized in the SAN, it is very easy to quickly scale up your resources (RAM, Storage, Processing) without any downtime. If your site / product outgrows the server that it is on, a hypervisor will automatically move your image to another server. This allows for virtually limitless scaling of resources with zero down-time unlike Shared Hosting or VPS Hosting.
A Cloud Server / Virtual Machine is ideal for websites with moderate to high monthly traffic and variable monthly growth.
Dedicated Servers – a.k.a Bare Metal Servers
A Dedicated Server (or Bare Metal Server) provides users with the utmost performance and security. A dedicated server is physical server that is fully dedicated to a single customer. During the setup of a dedicated server, a variety of options can be configured including RAM, hard drives, processors, and more.
As there are no additional customers hosted on a dedicated server, there is no risk of sharing space with unsavory or potentially harmful websites. Additionally, dedicated servers guarantee your site will never be in competition for resources. Customers hosting high-traffic websites that require a consistent experience, stand to gain the most from this option. These Bare Metal Servers are a reliable choice for mission-critical applications, providing the necessary resources to assure that your product or service is always running at its best.
With a Dedicated Server, you not only have control over the hardware, but also the software. You can deploy any operating systems, technologies, or frameworks you'd like, without restriction. This allows for the highest level of customization.
Genesis Adaptive offers a variety of Dedicated Servers that can be custom fit to your needs. Feel free to explore our most popular dedicated servers or get a server recommendation from our server recommendation generator.
A Dedicated Server / Bare Metal Server is ideal for websites with high monthly traffic, consistent performance needs, and steady monthly growth.
Colocation is the practice whereby a business can acquire their own hardware and host it in rented space at a data center. Typically, the physical space, power, bandwidth, and secure access are included with a colocation service. It can also come with, or without, third-party on-site management (remote hands). Colocation is an ideal solution for customers who prefer to own their own hardware as it provides the reliability of a fully-managed hosting solution with the gained advantage of professional 24/7 support, such as Adaptive Support.
Colocation allows for full user control over hosted hardware. It is often the best option for those who have the technical knowledge and resources to operate their own network, but lack the physical space and reliable connectivity. Some additional benefits of colocation include cost savings, space savings within an office, reliable uptime and connectivity, and access to certified consulting, hardware, and networking professionals.
If you are interested in migrating / colocating your existing network and infrastructure, feel free to reach out for a free quote.
Colocation is ideal for websites with moderate to high monthly traffic. It is also the best option and businesses who prefer to host their own hardware / network.
Final Thoughts on Hosting Choices
While there are many options available for hosting your product or service, it is imperative to ensure your hosting provider has reliable support and robust offerings that are able to scale with your company's growth. Genesis Adaptive's certified IT professionals draw from a wide range of consulting, hosting, and IT experience to provide you with the best service and resources that will meet and exceed your needs.