What Are The Different Types of Web Hosting?

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If you’re new to the process of setting up a website, one concept you will encounter very quickly is that of web hosting.  Web hosting is needed, in some form or another, for you or anyone else to have a website.

Web hosting, for the beginner webmaster, is often a fairly confusing topic.

Even for some people who have had websites for a long time, web hosting is a vague abstraction, even though they have it and pay for it.

That’s why this article is worth reading even if you already have a web host, because maybe you’re someone who doesn’t really know the difference between the various kinds, or even that there ARE various kinds of web hosts out there.

So what is web hosting and how does it work?

Metaphorically, your website needs two things in order to exist: an address, and some property.

The address is equal to the domain name that you will have to purchase in order to live somewhere (ie. mygloriouswebsite.com), and the hosting is basically the location where you will be living, including the home and the property it sits on combined.

Before it goes live to the world wide web, your site will be in various stages of construction, but for it to be at any stage, you’ll have already purchased the hosting (property) first.

But these properties upon which you build your home are not the same.  They’re not the same size, for one thing.  They are located all over the world, and sometimes you don’t even know where!

And, if you really are without a clue, rather than building a house, you’re checking into a hostel where you’ll be sleeping in a room with 100 other people!

That’s why we’re here to clear things up a bit!

In this article, we want to talk about these different types of web hosting, and so we turn to our friend, Monzurul Haque, who owns the web hosting company Fifohost, for answers.

Enjoy our chat about the different kinds of web hosting services that are out there, and hopefully it helps you to make a better selection when it comes to purchasing one.

If you’ve already purchased one, you may wish to change what you have in favour of something that better suits you.

Read on…

YHSW: What are the different types of website hosting?

Monzurul: There are five types –  shared, reseller, VPS, cloud, and dedicated that are the most in demand currently.

Shared Hosting

YHSW: What is shared hosting?

Monzurul: Shared hosting is a relatively cheaper type of hosting where more than 100 websites reside on the same server as one another.

In other words, it’s the same as many people living in a large dormitory to save individual costs.

Most people who use shared hosting do so because it’s more affordable and a go-to for beginners who don’t have a lot of specific requirements for their websites.

If the shared hosting situation really is bad, it might be more comparable to a homeless shelter than a dorm.

YHSW: Ok, so if one shared hosting company is considered good, and one is bad, what then is the difference between them technically, in your view?

Monzurul: The main difference is not the way the server is built.  Shared servers are made to be the cheaper option, and they’re basically all the same.

The difference in quality will come from the amount of accounts and websites existing in the main server. Good companies host less accounts, is the bottom line.

YHSW: How big would a shared server normally be?

Monzurul: From my experience, I would say that a shared server hosts at least 200 websites and more than 100 accounts.

YHSW: What kind of resources does that require?

Monzurul: Roughly, at least 16GB of RAM, 240GB SSD,  and a 12 core CPU.

YHSW: What if one user demands more resources? Will it slow other people on that same shared server down?

Monzurul: Every user has limited resources for themselves which is controlled by software, such as Cloud Linux OS.   

Some hosts limit node use at the file level, like how many files your account can have in total, and how much RAM your account can use, etc. 

That said, software alone can not prevent some abuses, and one user’s misbehaviour will affect others on some level or another.

Reseller Hosting

YHSW: Now, what about reseller hosting?  What’s that?

Monzurul: Reseller hosting is where someone buys some space from a dedicated server and sells that space separately to clients. 

With reseller hosting, it’s worth noting that neither the reseller hosting owner, nor the client (webmaster) has root administrator capability. 

In other words, root access gives you power to do anything you want at the root level.

YHSW: Remember when the previous hosts of this website said we were on a dedicated server, but we were not.  You discovered this for us.  Tell me again how you figured this out?

Monzurul: In that case, they were saying you have a cloud server (where you should have admin access to the OS) but they didn’t. The reason for that is that they were giving you some kind of reseller hosting, instead of the private cloud server they said they gave you.

YHSW:  Right.  The point being, if you don’t have root access, it’s a shared server situation of some kind or another?

Monzurul: Yes.

YHSW: Ah, I see. So, do reseller hosts usually announce themselves as such?  For example, how does a website owner know if a host is offering reseller hosting or direct hosting? They always tell you?

Monzurul: No, they don’t. Reseller hosting is generally bought by developers and they host their clients sites.  They don’t have an obligation to tell you it’s been sold to them, to sell to you.  Usually, people who buy reseller hosting don’t know they’re doing it.

YHSW: So reseller hosting is to be avoided?

Monzurul: Not really.  It’s just that most users don’t need reseller hosting, really.  It’s for small businesses or individual developers.

YHSW: But didn’t you say that you can’t get the root admin access with reseller type of hosting account?  That would make it less good for developers, wouldn’t it, because they don’t have full access.

Overall, are there any benefits of reseller hosting to a webmaster?

Monzurul:  Reseller hosting is for those who doesn’t have enough knowledge about hosting, so, instead, they buy a reseller package and sell accounts to their clients.

And, if there is any support issue that comes along, they just forward it to reseller hosting provider and they fix the issue.  Reseller people are basically middlemen.

VPS Hosting

YHSW: What is VPS hosting?

Monzurul: VPS stands for Virtual Private Server.  It does not refer to a physical server, but instead, it refers to a dedicated server has been divided into smaller parts based on the hardware resources.  This is known as a virtual server environment, where you can install OS.

Each user of a VPS server has root access, just like dedicated server.  But, the difference is that you live in a shared server environment, but you have full access to your system, and you can do whatever you want on your virtual server. It’s also cost effective.

YHSW: So it’s a shared server environment or not?

Monzurul: It’s kind of shared server, but you don’t share the same OS. You shared the hardware resources, though.

Cloud Hosting

YHSW: What is cloud hosting, and how is it different from a VPS? …since they’re both virtual, is that accurate?

Monzurul: Yes, they are both virtual. In VPS hosting, your primary hardware resources are not scalable, but in cloud hosting you can scale your server up or down, based on your needs.

YHSW: Would it be fair to say that cloud is basically better?

Monzurul: Yes.

YHSW: Is there anything else cloud hosting offers that we haven’t talked about?

Monzurul: Not that I’m aware of. I’ve mentioned the basic features.

Dedicated Hosting

YHSW: What is dedicated hosting?

Monzurul: Dedicated hosting means you have dedicated resources for your hosting. 

Basically, this means that you get all the resources of the server and full administrator access to OS, just like your own PC or laptop.

Which Hosting Type is Best?

YHSW: Of all the types of hosting, which ones do you recommend the most or not recommend very often?

Monzurul: It will always depend on the customer’s needs. I would generally recommend to go with real cloud hosting if you can manage to learn little bit of Linux administration.


YHSW: How does Linux relate to hosting?

Monzurul: More than 70% hosting servers uses Linux, and it’s pretty much standard to use Linux as the OS for servers.

YHSW: So it’s good to know some Linux programming?

Monzurul: Not programming per se, but basic commands to perform different operations.  Programming is a very advanced thing.

YHSW: What kinds of operations?

Monzurul: Basic Linux operations like going from one directory to another, copying files and folders, etc.

YHSW: Oh, I see. Nothing too complicated, then?

Monzurul: Right.

YHSW: Would you say it would be beneficial to understand some Linux programming too?

Monzurul: No, I wouldn’t, unless you want to build a career on it.

YHSW: Right, so just as someone who runs their own website, it’s not as important to know Linux code. 

Some basic understanding of Linux is fine.  Otherwise, you depend on other people to do things for you behind the scenes.  Is this correct?

Monzurul: Yes, I would say so.

Hope this helps, thanks for reading!

Read a related interview with Monzurul, “What Makes A Good Web Hosting Service?”

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Lansing Michael

Lansing Michael

Michael Lansing has been living for the past 25 years on the Bruce Peninsula, which is located in Southwestern Ontario, where he owns a 50 acre art and garden park, where people come up to explore "the bush". Featuring workshops of many kinds, Michael has an affinity for home security and spends his free time examining locks and security testing various products that add security to the home. He also has a large scale security system guarding his property, as well as his two dogs Shanna and Axe. He also sculpts in iron works, and if you're traveling north to Tobermory, you may notice some of his works along the side of the highway there.

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