A beginners guide to finding the best hosting solutions.
What exactly is website hosting?
Every website exists in a folder (called a directory) on a computer somewhere. We use domain names like Google.com or DigiMix.us to make our browser open the files in the directory that compose the website.
How to find the best website hosting providers to meet your needs.
There are 3 primary types of website hosting available:
1. Shared Hosting
2. Virtual Private Servers (VPS)
3. Dedicated Servers
What is the difference between shared hosting and virtual private servers?
Shared hosting is like hosting your website on one computer with many other websites. You are essentially sharing he same IP address. The web server software, which is most commonly Apache, will directory a visitor to the specific directory of your site based on the domain name they enter in their browser.
When is shared hosting appropriate?
If you have a simple website, maybe a few pages in HTML, shared hosting is a great option. It’s is very affordable. I do not recommend using a shared hosting plan on any website that uses MySQL databases. So do not put your WordPress site on a shared hosting plan. Even though its heavily advertised, you will run into issues once you have a sizable amount of content. With that in mind, if you have a simple, 5 page WordPress website for your small business, shared hosting may work fine for you. Once you have composed a years worth of blog posts, you notice a decrease in site speed and performance. Hosting is not just about the amount of gigabytes included. Web applications like WordPress require memory and other system resources to run properly. In shared hosting environments these resource can be limited, cause the WordPress site to not perform as well as it should. To recap you should chose shared hosting when you have a simple website with a small amount of content.
When should I use a virtual private server?
A virtual private server (VPS), is like having your own operating system for your website, but sharing the physical hardware. Since most server hardware is built at an industrial grade, virtual private servers end up being a great option for most medium size websites. If your website is going to use any type of database driven application, like WordPress or Magento, you should consider a VPS. Advancements in cloud computing technology have made virtual private servers the ideal hosting solution for most small to media business, e-commerce or content websites.
What are the best companies to work with for Virtual Private Servers?
Before you can answer that, you need to know if you would like a server that comes preconfigured or one that the developer will build.
If you are looking for an out of the box VPS, you should check out Host Gator. They offer easy to use Apache server configurations equipped with a software called Cpanel, which gives you a user interface for managing the server.
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If you are a full stack developer like me, and you are comfortable operating from the terminal, I suggest Amazon AS3 or Digital Ocean. They are both very reasonably priced and have great developer communities. Rackspace also has VPS / could hosting, but it’s pretty expense.
When do I need a dedicated server?
A dedicated server is exactly what it sounds like. You have a physical box all to your self. In most cases, you will have your dedicated server managed by a hosting company. Keeping an actual server in your office is a lot of work, not to mention extremely expensive. Dedicated servers should be used for data intensive websites and applications. For example, if you have a Magento store with over 1,000 configurable products, you may need a dedicated server to handle the site. As the could computing continues to grow in popularity, we are seeing a shift away from dedicated servers and towards cloud configurations.
There are many different options for dedicated servers. At this level you should be consulting with an experienced systems admin. I typically use Rackspace for dedicated servers. For Magento sites I also work with Simple Helix. They specialize in dedicated servers for Magento.
It is possible to have multiple virtual private servers all connect to each other, producing a superior performance to a dedicated server. Basically, as you website gets big, we take different parts of the site and connect them together on different could server environments (VPSs). For a Magento website, we could put your database on one server, your product images on another, and the Magento core files on yet another. We can take this a step further by adding things like load balancers and setting up content delivery networks. As you can imagine this can get very complicated very quickly. That’s why it’s important to find the right partners to help your manage your digital technology needs. At DigiMix we offer expert advice on how to build, manage and operate websites.
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