Finding the web host that’s right for you is one of the first decisions you will have to make when starting your blog. “What are my web hosting options”, you ask? Well, you have literally hundreds of options, but how do you choose? In this episode of Web Hosting 101 we will tell you what your web hosting options are and how to choose the one that’s right for you.
The first thing you have to do is know the four main types of web hosting out there, and they are:
Web Hosting Type #1: Shared Web Hosting
What exactly is shared web hosting? Just what it sounds like: a bunch of websites on one server, and everyone shares resources.
Pros of Shared Web Hosting: This is the cheapest option (some starting well under $10/month), and there are tons of providers for you to choose from. (Although there’s only one shared web host that we’ve relied on ourselves and actually recommend to our own friends and family – read on, we’ll tell you which one that is).
Cons of Shared Web Hosting: If someone else’s site goes down, yours goes down too. Or if someone screws up or gets a traffic spike you get affected by that too. Or you get a massive traffic spike (or you make a mistake) and you take everyone else down with you.
Basically, in web hosting, you get what you pay for. If you get anything out web hosting 101, we hope it is this: don’t cut corners. We’re not saying you should spend like a drunken sailor, but don’t cut your nose to spite your face, okay? It’s not pretty, trust me. And it does nothing for your blog.
Web Hosting Type #2: Dedicated Servers
Whoever invented the web hosting business must’ve been a big believer in truth in advertising, because again, this option is exactly what it says it is. A dedicated server is a server that is entirely dedicated to you and your website. You don’t share it, it’s all yours. This is not an option we, your illustrious hosts, recommend. Why? Well, first the good news:
Pros of a Dedicated Server: No neighbors to worry about, it’s all you. That results in better reliability.
Cons of a Dedicated Server: You have to buy the whole server, whether or not you need it. It’s not scalable which makes it very difficult when your website outgrows your current situation. It’s also very expensive for most of you just starting out in the world of blogging (costs $150/month to start)
Now you see why we don’t recommend it. Most of you can’t really afford to spend that kind of money on your web hosting solution (at least not initially), and even if you can you’re going to outgrow it at some point and then what? You can’t quickly and easy ramp up to the next level when you need to.
Web Hosting Type #3: VPS (Virtual Private Servers)
This is our preferred solution. VPS is what we use, and what we recommend you use as well. What is a virtual private server? Simply put, it’s a cross between a shared web hosting solution and a dedicated server. You still share, just not with as many people as you would if you went the shared web hosting route. We like to think of it as “high end” shared web hosting. We use it and we love it because it’s very easy, and you can just scale up to as much as you need, as soon as you need it.
Pros of a VPS (Virtual Private Server): Fast, easy, affordable ($50/month to start), you can ramp up later at the flip of a switch; and we use it (isn’t that reason enough for you?)
Con of a VPS (Virtual Private Server): You still have neighbors and you may still have to be very careful of VPS providers: they may over-sell the service, resulting in a flaky server for you. In fact many do, and there’s only one that we trust to power our own websites. (read on, we’ll tell you which one)
Web Hosting Type #4: Cloud Hosting
What is cloud web hosting? Hundreds of servers (many spread all over the globe) all working together to serve up your website (and the sites of all their other clients). If one of their servers goes down, no problem. The rest of their global servers will pick up the slack. It’s really great in theory, but not quite all the way there in real life. We don’t recommend using this as your sole web solution.
We use VPS coupled with cloud hosting for static content. Why? Because this combination decreased our page load speed time to less than half of what it was before – and that matters (a lot) to both your website visitors and to Google. Before it might take a couple of seconds to load our page, now it takes a matter of milliseconds, because our static content is on cloud servers all over the world. So someone from Japan gets our static content from a Japan based cloud server, for example.
Pros of Cloud Hosting: Pay only for what you need. Scales instantly. Global server network.
Cons of Cloud Hosting: You can but really shouldn’t offload your whole website to them (yet) – that technology just isn’t reliable enough yet. And you pay for all you eat – so a poorly written WordPress plugin or PHP script, or a denial of service attack, can drastically increase your web hosting cost.
By now, you’re probably wondering: which specific web hosts do you recommend Dan & Jennifer?
Well, we’re happy to tell you:
Our Recommended Shared Web Host:
HostGator – At just $7 (or less) per month for solid service this one is our first choice. It’s who we’ve used personally relied on for our websites, and the only shared web host we refer our friends and family to.
Our Recommended Dedicated Server Host:
N/A. We don’t recommend dedicated servers. Go with shared web hosting (above) or VPS (below) if you’ve outgrown shared web hosting.
Our Recommended VPS Host:
ServInt – Very solid VPS; they’re the ones we trust to power our websites today, serving just under a million page views per month (and growing fast!!) – all dynamic content, mostly WordPress and vBulletin.
Our Recommended Cloud Host:
Rackspace CloudFiles – Cost is less than Amazon S3, and it just works. We’ve been very happy with the service.
“This is a lot of information, just tell me what to do!” you say! Okay, fine. Here goes:
Keep it simple! If you’re just starting a site: go with a shared web host that’s solid, reliable, and cheap – just be careful to not go with a flaky one. (here is the shared web host we personally recommend).
Then when your traffic grows over 100k page views a month, jump to a VPS. As your traffic keeps growing, say around 300k page views a month, offload your static content (images, etc.) to a cloud host. That’s exactly what we did with Ask Dan & Jennifer and our other websites with amazing results.
Coming up in the Web Hosting 101 series, we’re going to dig a little deeper for you…
- Web Hosting 101: What’s Shared Web Hosting? (coming soon)
- Web Hosting 101: What’s A Dedicated Server?
- Web Hosting 101: What’s A VPS? (coming soon)
- Web Hosting 101: What’s Cloud Web Hosting?
If you’re ready to take your blog idea from your head to the screen, sign up for a risk-free trial at BlogPress. We’ll walk you through the process and help you start a successful blogging career.