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Everything you need to know before choosing a hosting service

According to the Global Web Hosting Market Share Report, Poland is among the top ten hosting providers in Europe (data from October 2021). The world leader – which should come as no surprise – is the United States, which holds as much as 51% of the global market share.


Strong competition means that hosting providers are striving to outdo each other in creating new solutions aimed at attracting clients. So, what should you be looking for?


hosting services

Let’s start with the basics 💡


You might think it’s obvious what hosting is – it does exactly what it says on the tin, right? But in fact, there has been a lot of confusion on the internet about the basic concepts, so it’s worth getting our definitions in order first. 😉


Host


A host is the place where your website or application will run. This place could be a computer or a server, for example.


Server


A server is a computer that runs around the clock and is always connected to the internet. It’s here that the website or application is located and your files are stored.


The server is located in a data centre or at your company’s premises. Like a regular laptop, it can run Windows, but servers usually run one of the GNU/Linux systems.


Hosting


Hosting is a service where a company provides its own server (or a section of it) to run your website or application. This means that you are renting someone else’s computer for your own purposes.


The cloud ⛅️


The cloud is a virtual server service that consists of many different virtualisation technologies. The cloud provider offers server instances and lots of additional services that allow the website or application to handle heavy loads and perform demanding computing operations efficiently.


Using the cloud requires knowledge, skills, and control from you (or your system administrator). You pay for server usage, which in the case of unlimited options, can put a big dent in your budget.


hosting services

Types of hosting 👇


The most important information when choosing a hosting service is whether (and on what terms) the server’s resources are shared among multiple clients. The general rule is that the more independent the server, the better.


Shared hosting


Imagine farmers who rent one large field together, each of them working their own plot of land. Of course, this has its advantages (e.g. lower rental price) and disadvantages (less space means less scope for action).


Shared hosting works in a similar way – you rent part of a server which is also used by other users, meaning that the software used by your company uses the same resources as the software of other companies. To put it simply, in this type of hosting, each client (each company) has a separate account on the same computer.


🆗 Advantages of shared hosting:

  • Cost saving – it’s the cheapest type of hosting.

  • It can be successfully used for a corporate website that doesn’t have a large number of visitors.

  • Automatic backup.

🆘 Disadvantages of shared hosting:

  • Lower performance – the same server is also rented by other clients of the provider.

  • The convergence of many users can cause problems – the reliability and stability of applications suffer.

  • Little control of hosting from the client’s side. We usually rely on a predetermined set of technologies offered by the service provider – with no possibility for customisation. This means confining yourself to a specific technology which will be used to create your website or application (usually PHP).


VPS – virtual private server


With a VPS, you rent an operating system running for you in a virtualised environment. In practical terms, it means that the same hardware is used by many virtual operating systems like yours (many of these systems are running on the same computer at once, thanks to virtualisation technologies supported by the hardware).


Main features of a virtual server:

  • High level of involvement of your administrator.

  • Low cost.

  • You need to configure the backup yourself.

Unlike shared hosting, you become the owner and operator of the entire operating system. You can install any software on the server – there are no restrictions as to the software development technologies used. However, with greater control comes greater responsibility: a VPS server without the oversight of an administrator becomes a threat to the security of your company over time. Like any home computer, a VPS server requires periodic updates, backups and constant protection against malware, so it’s usually necessary to have people responsible for overseeing the service.


Dedicated server 🧐


Unlike the first two options, the rented hardware is only used by you. This ensures that you have full control of the operating system and you can use a virtualisation option yourself or run multiple operating systems on the server.


Main features of a dedicated server:

  • 1️⃣ High level of involvement of your administrator.

  • 💰 High cost – this is the most expensive option.

  • 🖍 Backup – as in the case of a virtual server, you need to configure it yourself.


How do you choose the right hosting service?


There’s only one answer to that question – it depends.


Before making a decision, it’s worthwhile (and even essential!) to talk to the developer of your website or application.


Whether a hosting service is right for you depends on several factors, including:

  • 💎 the type of software you want to use

  • 💎 your technical and financial capabilities,

  • 💎 intensity of use of the available resources,

  • 💎 the number of users of the website.

Of course, it’s impossible to predict how much traffic there will be on your site. Therefore, at the start of your business, it’s worth opting for the cheapest type of service, and you can gradually switch to a higher (i.e. more expensive) plan as the website or application develops.


Remember that in the case of shared hosting, you usually don’t have to wait until the end of the billing period to change the package – if you contact the provider in advance, you can usually upgrade to a higher plan.


Another aspect worth noting is the ability to configure email. Shared hosting usually also acts as a mail server, whereas virtual and dedicated servers require the installation of the appropriate software. Administration of the mail server is a really time-consuming and important task that requires the involvement of a system administrator – this is why we usually use a shared hosting service in this regard.


👉 Access to the hosting service


hosting services

There are various methods of communication with your rented computer.


1️⃣ Web hosting control panel


A web hosting control panel is a means of communication with the server provider. Using the panel, you can manage your purchased services and order new ones. You can also delete all data/servers, but this operation is irreversible.

There is no one standard web hosting control panel – each provider has its own.


2️⃣ FTP


FTP allows you to upload, download and perform other operations on files that are located on your rented server (or section of the server).


3️⃣ SSH


SSH works like FTP, but also allows an interactive user session through the terminal. This is of great importance for the developer of your website/application – it allows for the automation of basic server operations.


Chosen your hosting service ❓ Now remember control ❗️


Your relationship with the software developer may vary. If you’re not sure about long-term cooperation (as in several years), then make sure that the production site for your website or application is a hosting that you own. After all, your important data are stored in the system!


Domain and hosting are your company’s resources and should be treated as such.


Control of them is one of the most important issues.


Source of data:

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