How to Choose the Best Hosting for Your Website
You’re planning to build a website for your business, but you’re faced with a tough decision: what kind of hosting do you choose?
With a variety of options, it can be tricky to determine which to choose for the website you have in mind.
Let’s take a look at how hosting works and then we’ll explore all of the options for hosting your website at Namecheap.
Hosting: The Basics
All websites require an online “home.” A hosting provider such as Namecheap sells space on a server (a computer with one or more large, state-of-the-art hard drives that stores all of the data, images, text, and other information your website contains), and makes it available to anyone who wishes to access it via the Internet.
You might wonder, “couldn’t I just host my website on my own computer?” While some people do manage their own web servers, remote hosting with a company like Namecheap offers many options that the average individual can’t match. Reliable hosting companies also provide valuable services, including:
- Ongoing and redundant backups in case of hardware failure
- Software such as cPanel to help you manage your website and other files
- Customer support to help you set up and manage your account
- Climate-controlled environments and staff to keep servers running at optimal efficiency
- Technical staff available 24/7 to ensure servers are protected against failure, unbalanced loads/bandwidth usage, and unauthorized access.
For a typical website, it would be cost-prohibitive to provide the same kind of hosting environment that Namecheap can offer for a just few dollars a month.
Types of Hosting
Namecheap provides the following types of hosting services:
- Shared Hosting
- Reseller Hosting
- VPS (Virtual Private Servers)
- Dedicated Servers
- Managed WordPress Hosting
That’s a lot of options. How do you choose?
Hosting services differ by how the servers are set up and amount of access customers have to them. Let’s break it down.
1. Shared Hosting
Shared hosting is ideal for people new to websites. It’s the least expensive option and is the easiest to set up and maintain. This is a great option for blogs, personal websites, and small business sites that don’t experience high traffic or require heavy bandwidth (such as video). Users have access to the cPanel, giving them the ability to install databases and applications, manage email, use FTP to transfer files to and from the server, and monitor bandwidth usage.
As the name suggests, shared hosting is a number of hosting accounts located on one server. At Namecheap, you get a web-based Control Panel (cPanel), which makes it easy to upload your site, create email accounts, or add databases without knowing MySQL or coding languages.
With shared hosting, someone else handles all of the server maintenance, and once your website is up and running, you rarely will need to access the cPanel.
However, you will face some limitations with traffic and bandwidth (file transfers, video, etc.), because you’re sharing your server space with other customers. You may also run into traffic spikes (from your site or someone else’s) that can slow down your site, and there are certain limitations on the types of things you can install or modify on a shared hosting account. At Namecheap, we offer three tiers of shared hosting.
- The Stellar plan is great for when you’re just getting started and works for up to three domains/websites.
- Stellar Plus is perfect for customers who need additional resources (such as subdomains or email accounts) or who want to create additional websites since you can host as many domains as you wish with this plan.
- Stellar Business is the right choice for clients who aren’t ready for VPS (see below) but need a bit more room to stretch. With this option, you’ll share server space with fewer other customers, and it comes with fewer limitations, such as no bandwidth caps. Because there are fewer users on the shared servers, this plan is ideal for e-commerce including Magento, Prestashop, and others. It’s also perfect for e-commerce.
For more information on shared hosting, check out our handy guide.
2. Reseller Hosting
Reseller hosting is another form of shared hosting and is a good solution for web designers and developers that maintain their customers’ websites on a long-term basis.
Reseller hosting packages are basically shared hosting accounts with extra tools to help you resell hosting space to clients. You get a higher level of control including a Web Host Manager (WHM) control panel that allows you to create multiple cPanel accounts with their own login details. As the owner of the reseller package, you can grant the client access to the resold account without giving them access to the main account. You’ll also be able to use the Web Host Manager Complete Solution (WHMCS), billing software that allows you to invoice clients.
While you can also sell accounts under a VPS or dedicated server account (see below), reseller hosting is much less expensive and it’s often ideal for web developers that work with small business clients.
3. VPS Hosting
Virtual Private Servers are highly-configurable options that provide a great deal more flexibility than shared hosting. A VPS server is still a shared environment, but differs in the way server resources are allocated. VPS is the right choice for developers, webmasters, and resellers who want to maintain the servers, and for any resource-intensive websites.
A VPS is a single physical server but is partitioned as multiple, separate servers. With shared hosting, all websites and other data on the server share the same resources, so if one website experiences a lot of traffic, it can affect the others on the same server.
Here’s a way to visualize the difference between shared and VPS hosting: Imagine you’re going camping at a lake. One side of the lake is set up like shared hosting, so anyone can take any campsite they wish and some people might get larger spots or ones closer to the water. There’s still enough land to go around, but space isn’t allocated evenly. On the other side of the lake, someone has drawn lines around each campsite, ensuring everyone has the same amount of space and access to the water. This is how a VPS server would be allocated.
On a VPS account, your account is contained within a virtual machine that acts as an independent server. That means you can make a lot more changes without affecting others. To continue with the above analogy, you could build a campfire and play music, and it wouldn’t disturb your neighbors. On shared hosting, you can’t really modify your environment because you’d be changing everyone else’s as well.
4. Dedicated Server Hosting
A dedicated server is the most powerful hosting option and is the right choice for the most demanding websites. Keep in mind that with VPS or a dedicated server, you will be responsible for more of the setup and maintenance of the websites than with shared hosting.
With a dedicated server, your website has its very own server to itself. A dedicated server is generally the level of hosting you would need if your online business gets a lot of website traffic.
On the dedicated server, you’ll be able to make any changes you need, which could come in handy if you plan on running special software on the server. On the other hand, you’ll need much more technical knowledge (or hire a server management administrator) in order to manage a dedicated server.
5. EasyWP: Managed WordPress Hosting
As a form of shared hosting, EasyWP (which is short for ‘Easy WordPress’) offers an even simpler entry point than regular hosting. You don’t need to worry about installing WordPress or figuring out the intricacies of cPanel when setting up your site. Exclusive to Namecheap customers and hosted on our own servers, EasyWP removes many of the pain points associated with the WordPress setup. It’s a great option for business owners who need a website fast. Currently, the main drawback of Easy WP is that you do not have FTP or cPanel access, which means you can’t do things like modifying the basic WordPress open source code or your databases.
Using the Same Company for Hosting and Domains
If you already have a domain at Namecheap, you might be asking yourself, “Should I sign up for their hosting as well?” Don’t worry, it’s a question we’re happy to address.
In the Internet’s early days, many people cautioned against having a single company managing both your hosting and your domains. And back in the 1990s, this wasn’t bad advice. Many new companies were trying to get a piece of the new business of selling domains, and it was difficult to find a company you could trust. Too often, if a domain company did offer hosting, they didn’t invest heavily in it, meaning the services were spotty and unreliable.
Nowadays that’s no longer an issue, even though the myth persists.
As you think about what company you want to choose for your hosting, there are many advantages for hosting your website where you register your domains. You only have to deal with one company for support and account management. It’s easier to manage your DNS (pointing your domain to your hosting) and you don’t have to switch back and forth between company websites just to manage your own site.
So with that in mind, why not choose Namecheap for your hosting?
The Bottom Line
When it comes to hosting, there are many options to choose from. If you’re new to websites, you really can’t go wrong with one of the shared hosting options. You can always upgrade if your business and website need changing. If you already have a website that needs to spread its wings, or you’re building an e-commerce site, consider a VPS or dedicated server.