There are many hosting options to choose from and after personally having hosted sites with a few different companies, there are some major differences with regard to pricing, options and finally access to server files.
Aside from selecting the hosting company, another decision will be the hosting package.
Windows Hosting means your website resides on a Windows server environment. Remember, this is the server side and has nothing to do with the type of computer or system you personally own or use (PC or Macintosh). Windows servers and applications are typically more expensive than Linux (a free, open source software) hosting environment. As with Windows software and operating systems, Windows servers are also more prone to hacking. Microsoft frequently releases security patches, and response time by the hosting company to apply the patches can be critical.
Linux is the name of an operating system based on Unix. The OS (Operating System) software is free and open source, developed and supported by a large international developer community. Since it is free from the licenses required by Microsoft Windows, Linux hosting is usually less expensive. It is also my recommendation unless there are definite needs that can only be provided through Windows Hosting.
A CMS (Content Management System) such as Joomla, Drupal or WordPress requires the availability of a scripting language like PHP and access to a database such as MySQL. Access to the databases, ability to install and/or upgrade plugins as well as updates to the CMS should be taken into consideration when selecting a hosting option. PHP versions change as well and I’ve been able to measure selected hosting companies response times to update their versions available for those who host with them.
Dedicated Hosting benefits are simple, the server only host’s your website(s). A dedicated server IP address is assigned to you and there is no sharing of space or usage. This all comes at a higher cost and prices can range between $50.00 per month to a couple hundred dollars per month. A far cry from the $4.00 monthly plan offered under the shared environment. For most, the shared environment is more than sufficient. If that approach is taken initially and you find it doesn’t provide you with what you need — upgrade. The hosting company should more than welcome the switch from a shared plan to a dedicated plan.
Managed hosting relates more to a service provided either by or through the hosting company. Managed hosting can apply to either a shared plan or a dedicated plan and is typically a set of functions related to the security and protection of the server/website. The type of website, such as a WordPress site must be carefully monitored and continual upgrades to plugins be installed. The advantages of a CMS site are often the sites worst enemy, and it is critical that user management, intrusion detection and security issues be monitored and kept up-to-date. Site attacks through outdated plugins or outdated installations of the application or operating system are common and in some cases have been devastating. (search TimThumb). Your web developer (webmaster) should make all required updates to applications and scripts used, but there is another level that applies to the server itself, which only the hosting company has access to. Some sites may never be at risk while others may constantly receive attacks. It is not the content of the site, but related more to the applications used, the scripts that are installed and whether the opportunity exists to harm a site. There are many reasons why a ‘managed’ plan might be required. The content authors, those with access to the server — are their computers clean? Do they use anti virus software? There are many issues at stake, after all, if they have access to posing content and access to the server, they must be sure that the system(s) they use are safe and secure. Again, what makes a CMS such as Joomla or WordPress so attractive, is also the cause of what makes it potentially harmful.
More and more hosting services will offer ‘cloud’ hosting of one sort or another. As cloud services become more commonplace Saas (Software as Service) and PaaS (Platform as Service) will eventually rule this area the internet. I won’t go into an explanation of “what is the ‘cloud’”, but it’s safe to say, whether you know it or not, you are probably using ‘cloud’ services for a number of your daily functions. Have you downloaded software or an app for your phone? Your email (Google, Yahoo) is cloud based. Many of the businesses you deal with, or services you may even provide are cloud based and are leased; from software to office space and even staff or employees.
If you’ve read this far down and have questions, please feel free to email me. Your business model will dictate your hosting needs, but I will recommend two companies that I have found to be very reliable and inexpensive. Lunarpages is my hosting company of choice. GoDaddy is the company I use to register (purchase) a domain name from. Both companies provide all services and Lunarpages actually provides one year free for a new domain name when you sign up for hosting with them. GoDaddy offers inexpensive domain name registration as well as all of the hosting packages, but Lunarpages has GoDaddy beat on what they offer in each hosting tier. GoDaddy has restructured their pricing the last couple years to be more competitive, but Lunarpages has been offering great hosting packages, 99% uptime and great support all the years I’ve been hosting with them.
One downside, Lunarpages recently closed phone support on weekends and as a smaller company also closes phones weekday in the evenings. An upside — rarely do I need to call them. Remember, a hosting plan is a critical choice to make. I’ve been asked by clients who host with other companies to perform services in which I need to access the server files and have been unable to easily accomplish the task. Bandwidth limitations, number of databases available and even providing email accounts for a domain are some of the factors that should be reviewed.
Select the banner below to review the Lunarpages plans. Basic Hosting (Linux) is all that is required, no additional addons are needed. Yes, I receive points for a referral, but even if not, I would still recommend Lunarpages as my first choice. Feel free to email me if I can assist in any way through the process.