Server hosting is an infrastructure delivery model that provides users with remote access to server resources (CPU, memory, disk, etc.) to power applications and stores data without having to purchase, configure, and maintain server hardware themselves.
A hosting server is a generic term for a type of server that hosts or houses websites and/or related data, applications, and services. It is a remotely accessible Internet server with complete Web server functionality and resources.
A hosting server is the key component of a Web hosting service. It is most often built, delivered, and managed by a hosting service provider and includes all components necessary for website operability. A complete hosting server is developed using the computing hardware, storage, operating system (OS), network connectivity, and/or specialized Web hosting software.
Why choose server hosting?
There are many benefits to server hosting, including, but not limited to, faster setup time, monthly payments instead of large capital expenditures, and ongoing upkeep so you can focus on your business as opposed to routine infrastructure maintenance.
Faster setup: The legacy process of ordering and shipping servers to your office or data center often takes weeks, if not months. In many cases, however, hosting providers can deploy, configure and make accessible servers for remote access within minutes of ordering. A reduction in deployment times means a faster time to market for the businesses’ services.
Monthly payments: Server hosting allows you to avoid large capital expenditures for hardware that depreciates over time. Instead, you simply pay a monthly server hosting fee to access the resources remotely. The payments cover things like break fixes and other important aspects of server hosting such as the space, power, and cooling the server uses. The monthly payments also include bandwidth usage.
Ongoing upkeep: Server hosting also removes the burden of worrying about all the work that goes into just keeping servers up and running 24/7/365 — e.g. managing networks, power, cooling, security, hardware repairs, software updates, etc.
What are the different types of server hosting?
In the world of web hosting, there are many options that will all get your site on the web. However, each of them caters directly to website owners’ needs. While they all act as a storage place for your website, where they differ is the amount of storage capacity, control, technical knowledge requirement, server speed, and reliability. Here are the most common:
Shared hosting is an inexpensive way to host simple, low-traffic websites and blogs. Server resources are divided up into smaller shared hosting plans to give users an easy way to have a web presence. There can be hundreds or thousands of shared hosting accounts on a single server depending on how the hosting provider sets it up. Server resources are shared across all accounts.
Because all resources are shared, the cost of shared hosting plans is relatively low, making them an excellent option for website owners in their beginning stages. Shared hosting plans often come with many helpful tools such as website builders, WordPress hosting, and the ability to email clients. Shared hosting plans are ideal for website owners that do not receive a large amount of web traffic.
Virtual private server (VPS) hosting
VPS hosting is similar to shared hosting, but in this case server resources are dedicated to a particular account to minimize the risk of resource contention and degraded service for certain users. It is the ultimate middle ground between a shared server and a dedicated server. There are generally fewer VPS accounts on a single server than in shared hosting. As traffic and resource requirements grow, users tend to ‘graduate’ from shared hosting to VPS. VPS hosting is unique because each website is hosted within its own space on the server, though it still shares a physical server with other users. It’s ideal for website owners that need more control, but don’t necessarily need a dedicated server.
Dedicated server hosting
Dedicated hosting gives website owners the most control over the server that their website is stored on. That’s because the server is exclusively rented by you and your website is the only one stored on it. This means that you have full root and admin access, so you can control everything from security to the operating system that you run.
Cloud hosting is the current buzzword of the technology industry. In regards to web hosting, it means many computers working together, running applications using combined computing resources. It’s a hosting solution that works via a network and enables companies to consume the computing resource like a utility.
This allows users to employ as many resources as they need without having to build and maintain their own computing infrastructure. The resources that are being used are spread across several servers, reducing the chance of any downtime due to a server malfunction. Cloud-based hosting is scalable, meaning your site can grow over time, using as many resources as it requires and while the website owner only pays for what they need.
Public Cloud Hosting: With the introduction of virtualization, public cloud hosting is most commonly associated with companies like Amazon Web Services (AWS), Microsoft Azure, and Google Compute Cloud. In the simplest terms, public cloud hosting provides on-demand, self-serve access to compute and storage resources over the internet in a multitenant environment. Using virtualization technologies like VMware, Hyper-V, Xen, KVM, and others, public cloud hosting provides a scalable, redundant way to architect large hosting environments that can be scaled up or down on the fly.
Private Cloud Hosting: Like dedicated hosting, private cloud hosting dedicates all the server resources within the private cloud to a single customer. Think of a private cloud as a bunch of dedicated servers that are virtualized to give a large pool of resources that can be managed as needed. A private cloud includes all the benefits of a public cloud, like redundancy and self-serve access, but without the shared attributes of a multi-tenant environment. Hosted private cloud provides inherent security benefits since it is single-tenant and also removes the risk of noisy neighbor issues.
Hybrid Cloud Hosting: When complex, distributed applications, and data require the use of more than one hosting deployment model, hybrid hosting enters the landscape. This could be combining dedicated server hosting with public cloud hosting, or private cloud with public cloud hosting. Hybrid is simply the use of more than one delivery model to achieve businesses' infrastructure goals in the most performant and cost-efficient way.
Most hosting packages you will find online are likely to be managed. Hosting companies provide technical services such as hardware and software setup and configuration, maintenance, hardware replacement, technical support, patching, updating, and monitoring. With managed hosting, the provider looks after the day-to-day management of the hardware, operating systems, and standardized applications.
Although there are many different options to choose from when it comes to web hosting, it all comes down to choosing a plan that fits your needs. Each plan caters to the specifications of different groups and realizing what your needs in a website are will help you ensure that you’re choosing the right plan for you and your business.
If you already own servers but need space, power, and cooling to keep them up and running, colocation could be a good fit. Colocation offers greater perimeter security than most customers can achieve on their own, and is more reliable in terms of uptime since the data center provider should have strict requirements for power and cooling redundancy. It gives access to higher levels of bandwidth than a normal office server room at a much lower cost. You’re left to your own devices and will be expected to take care of everything including the hardware, software, and services.
Which is best for you?
Although there are many different options to choose from when it comes to web hosting, it all comes down to choosing a plan that fits your needs. Each plan caters to the specifications of different groups and realizing what your needs in a website are will help you ensure that you’re choosing the right plan for you and your business. The crucial factors that you should keep in mind when selecting a web host include the type of website you have, the resources you need, your budget, and expected traffic. Here’s a quick overview of the advantage of each type of hosting:
- Shared Hosting: The most cost-effective option for low-traffic websites.
- Managed Hosting: Ideal for non-technical users who’d rather defer the more technical tasks to experts.
- VPS Hosting: Simply put, this is the best option for websites that have outgrown shared hosting.
- Cloud Hosting: Works best for websites that are growing rapidly and need scalable resources.
- Dedicated Hosting: Expensive option for large websites where you need to be in control.
- Colocation Hosting: The most expensive option that gives you maximum control over the hardware and software.
Is server hosting secure?
There are varying levels of security across all types of server hosting. In general, server hosting is going to be more secure than trying to maintain and secure a server or servers on your premises. This is because server hosting providers have taken rigorous steps to ensure security and multiple layers, starting with the physical building the servers reside in. Most data centers have strict access controls starting at the gate that surrounds the building all the way to the data center floor — armed guards, video surveillance, secure access controls, and more. Beyond this, there are steps that can be taken to further secure a hosted server environment all the way to the application layer.
How much does server hosting cost?
Server hosting can start for as low as $1 per month for small shared hosting plans to as much as hundreds of thousands of dollars for hyper-scale infrastructure environments. There is no one-size-fits-all hosting plan, as it all depends on the unique needs of the customer, the applications and workloads, and overall resource demand.