What Kind of Web Hosting Plan Do I Need?

Why Do You Need A Web Host? Well, while it’s possible to set up your own server, that’s an advanced (and often expensive) task. So it’s important to understand that – in order to make your website available to internet users, you’ll need a hosting plan.

When you sign up for web hosting, what you’re paying for is space on a web server to store all the files that make up your website. This might include Hypertext Markup Language (HTML) files, images, and other scripting files.

It’s also worth noting that a hosting plan and a domain name are not the same things. A domain name is the address for your website that indicates where on the internet your content is located.
Registering a domain name is a simple process, especially if your web host is also a domain registrar. For example, DreamHost users get a free domain when they sign up for an annual Shared Hosting or DreamPress plan.

So How Do Web Hosting Companies Work?
You can think of a web host like an old-fashioned card catalog at a library. The actual catalog with all of its drawers is the web host. The cards stored within are the contents of your website, which can be modified and retrieved as needed. Each drawer also has an identifier. In the library, these are letters or numbers, while a web host identifies each site by its domain name. To access your website, a user enters its domain name into a browser. This opens a drawer in the card catalog (or host) where they can view the contents of your website.

The company you purchase your web hosting from (your “hosting provider”) offers the hardware and software necessary for you to add your site’s resources and data to a server. This server is then connected to the internet. Hosting companies also offer other helpful features — like security tools, website builder resources, and email accounts — that can all help you have a successful presence online.

Now that you know how web hosting works at a basic level, let’s take a look at four different kinds of hosting solutions you can choose from. The perfect fit for your website will depend largely on your individual needs and budget.

#1 is Shared Hosting
When you purchase this type of plan, your website will share a server with many other sites.
Think of a shared server as a large apartment complex, and all of the individual apartments are rented by other website owners. All of you need a place to live — just like your website’s files — but going out to buy a huge family home would be too expensive for your needs. Sharing common areas and utilities in an apartment block helps keep costs down. And the same is true for shared hosting. This is why it’s a great budget-friendly option if you’re just getting started.

#2 is Virtual Private Servers, or VPS
This kind of hosting is similar to shared plans in many ways. Multiple websites share a single physical or cloud server. However, there are virtual dividers that section off server space and resources for each individual site. This is usually more expensive than shared hosting, but it is an excellent option for smaller sites with online stores that want a more secure environment for their customers. The word private means just what it implies. Your virtual server is reserved for you, so you won’t have to share RAM, CPU, or any data with other users. VPS hosting is also highly scalable, and more resources can be allocated to your site as it grows.

#3 is Dedicated Hosting
Dedicated hosting typically involves a physical server that houses only your website or websites. This means no one else can purchase space on that particular server. This is a useful option for agencies that might want to offer hosting as an option with their services, along with those running large sites or networks that get massive amounts of traffic.
Dedicated hosting means your resources are your own. However, you’ll have to be prepared to handle most of the hands-on work yourself.

#4 is Managed Hosting
Let’s call this final option “the works.” With managed hosting, you’ll have extra support from the hosting provider when it comes to keeping applications and security elements updated on your site. If you don’t have the time, resources, or know-how to handle site maintenance on your own, this is an excellent option. Managed hosting plans can be shared, VPS, or dedicated. They simply provide an extra layer of service on top of server space and resources.

If you’re still not sure where to start, check out our affordable shared plans here at DreamHost. With customized user-friendly hosting plans, expert technical support, and easy web-builder applications we’re a great place to start your next online endeavor. We even have a DreamHost Academy filled with hundreds of tutorials on how to launch your first site and grow your presence over time. Get started today at DreamHost.com. We’ll be waiting for you!