6 Different Types of Web Hosting | How to Select the Best One

When you start looking for a web host, you might notice that there are many different types of web hosting packages to choose from. This might leave you wondering, what type of web hosting package do I need?

It’s important to choose the right type of web hosting for your website. Choosing the wrong hosting package could leave you paying for resources you don’t need or worse yet, with a server that requires more technical ability than you’re willing to commit too.

Below we’ll take a look at the 6 most common types of web hosting, how much they cost and what type of web hosting you need for your website. Before you start, feel free to choose a few of the The Best Hosting Providers and compare their plans as you read along.

Different types of Web Hosting

There are six different types of web hosting packages that you’ll commonly see. The terminology might vary from host to host but you’ll generally see these different packages:

  1. Shared Hosting $3 – $15

    Multiple websites are hosted on the same server and share system resources. Great for people who are not system administrators and have sites that are just starting out or have very little traffic.

  2. Virtual Private Server (VPS) $20 – $150

    A Virtual Server installed on shared hardware. Great for system admins, developers and websites that need more control over the performance and configuration of their server at a lower cost than a dedicated server.

  3. WordPress Hosting $12 – $75

    A shared server that is configured specifically to run WordPress websites. Great for established blogs or small business websites that need a higher level of performance, security, and technical support than a shared hosting plan can provide.

  4. Dedicated Server $100 – $500

    A server dedicated to your needs. Great for system admins, developers and businesses that need full control over their web server’s configuration, performance and security.

  5. Reseller $13 – $42

    For people who want to sell web hosting services and brand them as their own. For example, a web design company that wants to sell their clients web hosting services after they develop their website.

  6. Cloud Hosting $30+ (Cost is determined by the resources you use)

    Multiple servers provide system resources to your website. Good for businesses that are frequently scaling up or need their website to be highly reliable during traffic spikes.

Managed vs Unmanaged Web Hosting Plans

As you look at the different hosting plans, you might notice two versions of the same plan: Managed and Unmanaged. Managed or Unmanaged is a way to describe who manages the server – you or the web host. Shared hosting plans are always managed while VPS and Dedicated server plans give you a choice.

If the server is managed, the host will install all the software including the web server, database server and scripting language. It’s also common for them to manage software patches, security updates, performance tracking, backups and a whole lot more. You might even get an easy to use control panel like cPanel. With a managed server, you’ll be able to focus on building your website, not system administration.

If the server is unmanaged, your host installs the operating system and you’re responsible for setting up everything else. You’ll have to install the web server, database server, scripting language, software updates, security patches, backups and any other software you need to run your website. You’ll be responsible for performing system administrator and if something goes wrong, guess who gets to fix it? Yep, more than likely it’ll be you.

It might be tempting to sign up for an unmanaged account because of the lower price point but beware, it takes a good level of technical knowledge to setup and maintain a server. Even if you have the knowledge, it’s time away from building your website and driving traffic to it.

Before choosing a managed or unmanaged hosting plan, make sure you know the difference, what you’re paying for, and the technical knowledge required to manage each plan.

What Type of Web Hosting Do You Need

The type of web hosting you choose depends on what kind of website you have or plan on building. If you’re building a website for the first time, you might want to look at shared hosting. If you have an existing website and are looking to upgrade your plan, you might want to look at a VPS hosting plan.

The list below will help you learn about the different types of web hosting and when to choose each one. If you’re having problems deciding between two plans, its best to start with a lower plan. Most hosting providers are happy to upgrade you to higher plan if you need more resources. And you can always contact technical support to talk to a specialist.

Shared Hosting

Shared web hosting plans use a single server to host hundreds and sometimes even thousands of different websites. With shared hosting all the websites on the server share the same resources. This is great for people who are just starting a website or have medium to low levels of monthly website traffic.

Shared hosting is the most affordable way to host a website. Because everyone is on the same server, they essentially split the monthly costs of the server hundreds or thousands of ways. Plus, you get access to the datacenters high speed internet connections and a team of engineers that make sure the server is maintained. All for as little as $3 a month.

Despite all the benefits of shared hosting there are some drawbacks. Since everyone is on the same server, there is a higher risk of getting malware or viruses. While the network engineers do a good job of preventing viruses, shared hosting isn’t as secure as if you were on your own dedicated server.

Shared hosting is also slower than other hosting plans. Since everyone uses the same resources, your load times might be slower. And if another website on the server is experiencing a lot of traffic you might notice your website slow down.

If you’re building a website for the first time and you’re not sure which type of hosting to choose, start with a shared hosting plan. In most cases it’s better to start with the lowest plan. Your web hosting provider will always let you scale up to a more expensive plan if shared hosting isn’t working for you.

Choose Shared Web Hosting If

  • You want an easy way to host your website without a lot of technical details.
  • Have a small budget and don’t want to spend a lot of money on web hosting.
  • Don’t need specialized software or a highly customized configuration.
  • Have little to no monthly traffic coming to your website.
  • You’re not storing customer information and security isn’t mission critical.

Virtual Private Server (VPS)

With a Virtual Private Server everyone shares the same hardware, but their accounts are installed under separate operating systems or virtual servers. VPS accounts are more secure than shared hosting accounts because under a shared hosting account, every website is installed under the same operating system and its harder for viruses and malware to transcend operating systems.

VPS accounts also give you the freedom to choose how many system resources you’re allocated. This is great for websites that are growing fast and need flexibility. If you need more processing power or memory, contact your host and they can easily add it – increasing the performance of your website. Unfortunately, managed VPS accounts can cost as much as 4x that of a shared hosting account.

Choose a VPS hosting package if:

  • You need higher performance than Shared Hosting.
  • Your website is growing fast.
  • You need full control over your website’s configuration.
  • You can pay for or perform system administration.

Managed WordPress Hosting

You might have noticed hosting plans called WordPress Hosting or Managed WordPress Hosting. These plans are only for websites running WordPress and are different than WordPress running on a shared hosting plan. With these plans, your web host will be more hands on in terms of providing better performance, security and technical support for your WordPress website.

Security is much tighter on a Managed WordPress Hosting plan. Your host will more than likely install the security patches and updates for WordPress. You just approve the installation and they take care of the rest. They also watch for common WordPress vulnerabilities and can block them at the firewall level before they reach your website.

Managed WordPress hosting plans are tuned to maximize the performance of WordPress. With shared hosting, your host has to install an array of different software applications to accommodate websites running on different platforms. With WordPress Hosting, they only install applications that contribute to making WordPress blazing fast.

When something goes wrong, it’s hard to get technical support for WordPress related problems. Managed WordPress hosting accounts fill that void. They give you access to WordPress experts that can answer common questions and help you fix problems when they arise. Technical support can vary from plan to plan so make sure to read the fine print before committing to a Managed WordPress plan.

Last but not least, you’ll get access to more WordPress related tools than with a shared hosting account. One in particular is site staging. As you build your website and receive more traffic, you won’t want to develop your site on the live website. If you break something during development, it could bring your site down and annoy your visitors. This is where staging comes in. Staging allows you to create a replica of your website, make changes to it and deploy them safely to the live site.

Choose Managed WordPress Hosting if:

  • You only plan on using WordPress for your website.
  • You need WordPress technical support from your web host.
  • You want your host to secure your website.
  • You don’t mind paying 3x more than a shared hosting account.
  • You don’t mind your host limiting the installation of some third-party plug-ins.

Dedicated Servers

A Dedicated server is similar to a VPS. The difference is you get a dedicated server. Meaning you don’t share the server hardware with anyone. This essentially makes your website more secure because you don’t have to worry about websites creating security breaches that could affect your site.

Because there’s no one to share the server with, you’re stuck with a good-sized monthly bill. And that can range from hundreds of dollars a month to thousands. The cost of your dedicated server will depend on how many resources you choose and if its managed or unmanaged.

Choose a Dedicated Server if:

  • You need the highest level of performance.
  • You need full control over your website’s configuration.
  • You need a highly secure environment.
  • And can pay for or perform system administration.
  • You have a large budget.

Reseller Hosting

Reseller hosting is for entrepreneurs and business owners who want to sell web hosting services. This could be someone who wants to start a web hosting business or a freelance web designer who need hosting for their clients. Reseller hosting isn’t good for people hosting a single website.

Reseller hosting plans focus on storage space and bandwidth. You choose a hosting plan with enough storage space and bandwidth to accommodate your clients then distribute it throughout the number of accounts you have. Most reseller accounts also come with a management console to manage your clients.

The management console helps you automate common tasks. From the management console you can automate things like invoicing, creating accounts and adding your own personal branding to each account. You can even perform technical tasks like managing SSL certificates and domain registrations.

Choose Reseller Web Hosting if:

  • You want to start a web hosting business.
  • You need to manage multiple clients web hosting needs.
  • You need specialized tools to manage multiple hosting accounts.
  • You want to create customized web hosting packages.

Cloud Hosting

Cloud computing is similar to VPS. With VPS you’re on a single physical server and you’re allocated a certain amount of server resources. With Cloud computing, your server resources are not limited to a single physical server, they are distrusted between a network of virtual servers.

Cloud hosting is very flexible. You can increase the amount of system resources anytime you want. This is great for fast growing companies that are frequently scaling their business. It also uses a pay as you go model. You’ll only be charged for the resources you use.

Cloud hosting is extremely reliable. If one of the servers goes down, it won’t take your entire website down. The other servers will ensure your website stays online. Likewise, if your website gets a spike in traffic, the cloud will allocate the appropriate resources needed to keep your website running smooth.

Choose Cloud Hosting If:

  • You’re a fast-growing company.
  • Uptime is mission critical for your website.
  • You frequently need to increase system resources.
  • Your website has frequent spikes in traffic.

Summary

There are several different types of web hosting packages available. If you’re just starting a website for the first time, shared hosting will probably be best for you. If you’re upgrading from a shared hosting account, VPS will probably be the best route to go.

If you’re still unsure about what type of web hosting package is best for you, start with a lower hosting package and move up as you need more resources. Most web hosting companies are happy to help you scale up.

Now that you understand the different types of web hosting, take a look at the The Best Hosting Providers and choose a plan that works best for you.