Guide To Choosing A Server For Your Website

It’s 2016, and fairly safe to assume your company has a website. This site serves as your company’s digital shop window. This is where you convince your customer base of your professionalism and quality. With your site playing such an important role in your operation, you can’t afford to let any mistakes happen. It may be time for you to look at other hosting options. You’ve probably heard a fair bit about web hosting before, but may be a little confused over what it all means! If you have this issue, then this post is for you. Here, we’ll look at two common options and what they’ll mean for your site.

Before we get into the thick of it, there are a few fundamentals you should know about hosting. It’s common for new entrepreneurs to think that ‘server’ and ‘hosting plan’ are interchangeable. This is the first big mistake you need to avoid! A server, in essence, is pretty similar to your home computer. It has a hard drive, a CPU, memory, and a whole grid of input and output ports. You’ll need a server to keep your website running, and luckily it’s easy to choose one. Whether you get a VPS, a dedicated tariff, or use the cloud, the more powerful the hardware is, the faster your site will potentially be. You should always make sure to look at certain pieces of hardware whenever you’re looking at a hosting service. You need to check the speed of the CPU on offer, the available memory you’ll be given, the storage and disk space.

Choosing a package with all the right hardware will give you a better performance, true. However, there are a few more aspects you should be looking at to make sure you get the best results possible. The performance you get from your server depends heavily on the plan itself, and how the available hardware is applied. So what makes a hosting plan distinct from a server? A hosting plan includes the server, and several management services. These include software upgrades for some of the essential programs involved. Security measures like virus removal and malware scanning are also part of it. Aside from that, most professional hosting plans come with ongoing performance monitoring. When you come to choosing a hosting plan, you should look at its base hardware, as well as the management the company offers.

Now we come onto the difference between a VPS and dedicated server. If you’re currently looking at dedicated hosting plans, then you should know that with these only one user can use all of the hardware at one time. This is the main advantage VPS hosting plans have over dedicated ones. With these, the hardware linked to the server can be used by several different users at once. Dedicated hosting plans are ‘dedicated’ to you. You own every bit of hardware involved, and you’re the only person who has ready access to it all. With a VPS, it’s a slightly different deal. Here, you’ll be sharing the server with several different people, and only able to use the share you’re paying for. With a VPS server, the use of “virtualisation” technology splits any available resources between a number of users. Let’s say the available hardware gave out 500GB in its hard drive, 20GB of memory, and there were four users signed up. Each person would get 125GB on the hard drive and 5GB of memory.

Obviously, if your company deals with large amounts of data, then the physical resources will play some part in your decision. For most business owners though, the choice between the two is based heavily on how the hardware is actually applied. Like with anything, there’s a wide range of quality, both in dedicated servers and VPS. High-end VPS services (click here for an example) can be very fast, sometimes beating the dedicated tariffs which only serve one user. The management services available straddle both types as well. With both dedicated and virtual solutions, you can have automatic security scans, malware removal and so on. Remember that although expensive servers usually come with more features, you’ll probably be able to find a cheap one that suits your needs. If a lot of the data you store is valuable to cyber criminals, then look for more security features. Or, if you need to keep in close, immediate contact with your customers, aim for more speed and reliability.

There are a variety of other measurable factors which could affect your choice in server. Like any responsible person, you’ll probably want to look at the cost of the two options! Generally speaking, VPS hosting is going to be much cheaper. The reason behind this is simple. These companies will put several different users on the same server, and their costs per user will be much lower. Therefore, they can afford to charge you less for service. The difference here can be staggering. Budget-quality VPS packages start at around £15 a month, whereas a dedicated server in the same band will cost you well over £100! If the prices are making you shrivel up now, you might be in for a serious shock further down the line! For websites that are reeling in a few million visitors a month, the monthly rate can easily get up to several thousand pounds.

Although dedicated servers are more expensive, they tend to perform much better on the security front. Any hosting plan has to deal with a variety of different threats. However, there’s something fundamental which puts VPS servers at a disadvantage. All VPS servers work using something called the hypervisor. This is the software responsible for creating all the allotments on the server. With the majority of viruses floating around out there, only one user account is at risk at a time. However, there are certain, advanced viruses around which can totally bypass the hypervisor. These can disrupt all the user accounts linked to the VPS.

Dedicated servers also offer a lot more customisation compared to the VPS option. You’re the only user with access to the system, and you can do pretty much anything you like to it. If you’re particularly tech-savvy, you can even manipulate the hardware and software at the core of the server. Provided you know what you’re doing, you’ll be able to configure the whole plan to suit your specific business needs. For the majority of people who need hosting, there’s no need to change a single setting from the defaults. However, if you’re running a specialised program or you know you’d want to tweak things often, then a dedicated server is probably for you.

Finally, the overall performance of both options. This factor is largely down to the hardware available with each plan. However, if you had the two types, all with the same hardware specifications, dedicated servers will always win the contest. Again, this is due to the fact that a dedicated server doesn’t have to split its resources. If you’re a start-up or your web traffic is moderate for now, then you won’t have to worry about this too much. You’ll only notice it when your site is having to fire all cylinders. If you need the absolute best performance, and a mind-bending amount of hardware, then dedicated servers are probably for you.

I hope you’re not as confused about hosting plans as you were when you started reading! Hosting is a dry and often complicated subject. A lot of business owners will feel like turning away from it all right at the start! However, with enough market research, you’ll easily be able to find a plan that caters for your needs.

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