Not All Hosting Is Equal

Shared HostingI have learned a great deal about hosting over the years.

There are a few different elements in every hosting account. Most people have heard about bandwidth and storage space in reference to a hosting account. A little amount of bandwidth is used anytime someone accesses your website. More is used if you have music playing or if you have videos hosted on your account and they are played. Every time images are accessed, the bandwidth increases. You have a certain amount of bandwidth provided each month, and if you run out, you are either charged more or your website will shut down until your bandwidth is increased or the next month rolls around. Think of bandwidth as cell phone minutes: if you go over your minutes, you get charged or your phone stops working.

Storage is the amount of space your website uses. All text files, images, PDF’s and any other media uses space. It is usually measured in megabytes. If you run out of storage you need to purchase more.

The third element of hosting (which no one talks about) is CPU or processing speed. Websites that are on slow hosting accounts usually do not have a speedy processor. This can cause sites to time out, load very slowly, or not load all the elements (like large images). Shared hosting accounts from most of the large companies use dual core processors. This often has a negative effect for WordPress websites.

The fourth element is RAM, or the memory that is used to access stored data. All servers have an allotment of memory. If you are on a shared hosting account that runs out of memory then it stores information on the hard drive, greatly slowing down your website.

Types of hosting accounts:

Shared Hosting: This is what most small business owners purchase. It is very cheap and all hosting companies lead with shared hosting as a cheap price. Shared hosting accounts are exactly what they seem – shared with anyone and everyone. They run slower because the server resources are shared among all the users. If one site spikes in traffic then the extra resources are temporarily pulled from the other users. If that site continues to use to many resources then it is shut off (and the owner is not notified). That is the drawback. The good points are that the account is very inexpensive and for the average small business owner the service is adequate.

VPS Hosting: This stands for Virtual Private Server. This is like renting a server that is maintained by the hosting company. It has more resources than shared hosting because your websites are the only ones on that space. You rent the amount of resources that your site requires. It is more expensive than shared hosting, but your site will run faster.

Dedicated Server: A dedicated server is the most expensive type of hosting. It is for a large company that needs tons of resources and has a tech person that can configure, maintain, and run the server for your company. This is not usually a choice for small businesses.