Every website consists of data within text, image and media files, and these files must be stored somewhere. When a user views your site, they are actually using a web browser (such as Chrome, Internet Explorer or Firefox) to open and read these documents that you have stored on an internet connected server. You therefore need to choose where and which kind of server to store your website on; a shared server, dedicated server, or a virtual private server. Let’s review these and help you find where to host your website:
Using a Shared Server
As you might have guessed, a shared server hosts hundreds or even thousands of other websites on the same server. You get great value for money here, and it’s fairly easy to get started as you’re not taking over a whole computer, but simply adding your files to one that’s already set up. The potential downside is that if you are sharing a server, your website performance may be affected by the volumes of traffic accessing the other websites on your server; a large load of traffic to the other sites on your server could severely slow down your website performance on that particular day.
A shared server is a great starting point for a small business or a low traffic brochure site for an offline business. These are low maintenance and generally offer less technical support than a dedicated server or a VPS, but at this level you probably don’t need the extra service and technical hassles involved.
You might find a shared hosting package for US$3-5 per month, which is generally aimed at small websites and blog owners, and this likely involves hundreds or thousands of small websites sitting on one server alongside yours. This is fine as long as you understand the limitations of such a service; if you grow and attract larger amounts of traffic, performance (the time a page takes to load) may begin to suffer, and it’ll be time to upgrade to a more robust hosting solution. This website (Online Business Asia) uses BlueHost as a simple, easy to set up shared hosting solution; you can access a special OBA offer on your hosting through this link.
Using a Dedicated Server
Again, you might have guessed it: a dedicated server is leased completely to you, without having to share it (and your website performance) with other websites. You have complete control over the machine through a browser-based control panel and root (or admin) level access. You’ll probably find that these computers run Linux or Windows Server, and will take a bit more technical knowledge to administer than a shared server. Fortunately, dedicated servers usually come with technical support to help you out, should you not be able to solve issues through the control panel.
You will pay more for a dedicated server however; expect around US$100 per month or more. This is probably the right choice for you if you run an ecommerce business with large volumes of traffic, or if you have a digital product that needs to be delivered electronically to your customers.
Using a Virtual Private Server
A Virtual Private Server (VPS) is effectively halfway between a shared and a dedicated server for your website in terms of cost and features offered. Using a VPS will give you all of the functions of a dedicated server, but at a much lower price point; you may pay US$25-40 per month for your VPS and the technical access and support that comes with it.
How does it work? A VPS is technically a shared server, whereby each of the server’s computers is running multiple “virtual servers”. These VPSs are programmed to think they are running on their own dedicated machine, and are located within their own partition of that machine’s hard disk. In reality, the hard disk hosting these multiple VPSs shares its resources across each of the partitions, which means you will get less storage space, lower memory, and competition for processing time, which can reduce performance if the other VPSs on your server are experiencing heavy traffic days. On balance, a VPS can be an excellent business solution, giving you many of the benefits of a dedicated business solution at a lower entry cost.
How Much Space and Bandwidth Do I Need?
Web hosting packages are usually sold and marketed based on the amount of space allocated, however most websites actually require very little space, so there’s often no need to pay for large amounts that won’t be used. For example, an average ecommerce website might only require 1-2GB, so an “Unlimited” space plan is really not necessary to pay a premium for.
Usually hosting plans will offer you a certain amount of bandwidth, and then charge you extra for use beyond these limits. Let’s take an example; if you have a web page with 100KB of data and a user accesses this page, 100KB of bandwidth will be used of your total allowance. As with hosting space, bandwidth is often marketed in high numbers, but in reality you won’t need a huge amount; a good rule of thumb is 10-12 times your hard disk space in bandwidth allowance.
Technology To Look For
A shared hosting service should include PHP 5 and MySQL 5, which are programming language and most commonly used database respectively. This information should be easy to find when researching your prospective web server. Whether or not you need the full functionality of these technologies, it will be safer to have the option and generally costs no more than other packages.
Managing a server is usually done via cPanel, which is a graphical web-based control panel that allows you to manage your website and hosting account. CPanel gives you access to setting up emails, forwarders, databases, and many other functions required to administer your site.
Still wondering where to host your website? You may want to use BlueHost, where we host Online Business Asia; we recommend and use this host ourselves. Take a look a the link below: