Published on August 19, 2021 Last modified on April 19, 2022
Estimated reading time: 6 minutes
What is web hosting
Web hosting is a service that allows you to make your website, webshop, or web application accessible on the internet. Essentially, getting a web hosting service means buying a space on a physical server where you store your site’s files, databases, and other data (images, CSS, HTML, etc.).
These servers are normally located in so-called data centers that are typically managed by web hosting companies. Other than server space, web hosts also offer maintenance, security, support, and ensures the bandwidth needed to connect your website to the internet is available.
Different types of web hosting
Businesses have different needs and so there are also a variety of hosting types that are available. Most hosting providers bill their clients monthly with discounts available for annual billing. Identifying the best type for your company and then pre-paying for a year can save you a lot of money.
Shared hosting means sharing server space with other websites. This is the least expensive hosting plan, but you share the resources and bandwidth with other websites so it’s not as flexible. If you’re running a personal blog or a small business, shared hosting could be ideal.
However, if the website you’re sharing server space with gets an influx of visitors, then it could negatively affect the performance of your site. Shared hosting also poses security risks. If a particular website is compromised with malicious software, the other websites in the same server space can also be affected.
Virtual private server (VPS) hosting is the middle ground between shared hosting and dedicated hosting. With VPS hosting, you still share a server with other websites but you get a private space within that server where you have dedicated resources — meaning site performance will be better than shared hosting because these resources are reserved for you. VPS hosting is best for small to medium-sized websites where you don’t want unexpected slowdown when you get a spike in visitors.
Dedicated server hosting
Dedicated server hosting is the opposite of shared hosting. With a dedicated server, you have full control over the server's settings. This is a more expensive hosting plan but you get the advantage of not sharing your resources with others. This hosting plan is ideal for large websites or webshops where you expect a lot of traffic or for web applications that require full control over the configuration of the servers.
Cloud hosting differs from traditional physical servers in that it functions via network and doesn’t use a single server. Instead it’s multiple servers that work together as one system wherein if one server fails, the other servers can compensate.
Cloud hosting is known to be the most flexible and scalable option in hosting as it can accommodate periods of higher or lower demand by automatically scaling up or down as needed. This is very handy if, for instance, your site is featured on radio or TV because of the sudden surge of visitors when that happens. With the more traditional hosting types, you have to manually watch your resources and adjust accordingly. In other words, with Cloud hosting, you only use what you need and only pay for the resources that you use.
Cloud hosting is therefore often used for medium to larger websites, e-commerce sites or web applications that are growing fast and which have unpredictable traffic patterns.
From the word itself, self-managed hosting means getting your own server (hardware) and installing and managing your own software, either in a data center or in your own office. You are responsible for installation, server configuration, updates, and security patching and last but not least, backups. While this setup gives you complete freedom to configure your hosting set up the way you want it, it is also the most difficult form of hosting you can have because of the in-house skills required to manage it.
Managed hosting is typically an add-on to VPS, dedicated, or cloud hosting, where the hosting provider or a third party manages a company's server. The company that is responsible for the server takes care of everything — from setup and installation to daily maintenance, security and backup. This service is fit for those with large websites, webshops, or web applications, but do not have the in-house technical expertise to manage a server or a data center.
Never buy hosting from your developer
We recommend that you do not get web hosting from the company that developed your website, webshop, or web application.
If your developer is the same as your hosting provider, your system will be on their server, where they have virtually full control. In the event that you want to switch to another software or hosting provider, you risk being exposed to a vendor lock-in — where the provider does not want to lose you as a client and can sometimes make it difficult for you to get a copy of your system by dragging the process out in hopes that you change your mind and stay with them. In this short video, Peter explains how you can avoid lock-in with your provider.
There are different ways to lock in a client to a supplier. One of the classics is that the client finds out that they can't move their website or webshop to a new provider as they actually only own their data (articles, customer information, etc.) but not the website or webshop itself. Unfortunately, many people do not understand the difference between receiving a copy of their data and receiving a 100% copy of their website or webshop, so they can change provider (hosting or development) if they wish.
Here are some of our recommended web hosting providers per service: