How to host your mobile app
Hooray! You’ve got a fantastic idea for an app. Now what?
Before your prospective users can even discover and install this awesome app of yours, you first need to have it hosted somewhere in order for it to become available for people to download and use.
Except for the most basic utility and gaming apps (think Tetris), most mobile applications are not standalone. Meaning? They require some sort of network access for any prospective user to interact with an app. This is known as application hosting, which makes your app available from an invisible infrastructure that gets accessed through the Internet.
So unless you’re a tech whiz who plans on hosting your app on a web server you built yourself, you’ll need to be on the lookout for a hosting service that does the heavy lifting for you.
Ready to learn about which solutions are right for you and your app? Let’s get started.
What types of mobile app hosting are available?
You can think of app hosting as software that runs on someone else’s infrastructure. When you host your app on a “remote machine,” you only pay for the services you use and you don’t have to worry about spending money on the creation and maintenance of any underlying hardware/software.
That being said, here are some of the solutions available to you when it comes to hosting your app:
1. Shared hosting
If you’re just starting out with your mobile app and aren’t actually building it yourself, shared hosting is your best bet. While this means you share one server with potentially hundreds of other users and you don’t have root access to the server, shared hosting is very inexpensive and very easy to use.
And depending on your provider, you’re looking at plenty of storage space, backups, speed, unlimited bandwidth, a certain amount of email accounts, etc. Namecheap’s Shared Hosting plans, for example, all come with a free domain name, script support for Perl, Python, Node.js, and Ruby, as well as unlimited bandwidth.
2. Dedicated server hosting
If your app requires a certain technical level, faster speed or more memory, then a dedicated server is the way to go. With a dedicated server, you have complete freedom to do what you want and when you want thanks to one physical machine that’s entirely at your disposal. And yes, for those of you who want to build your app from the ground up, you have root access to the server which allows you to do so.
And, depending on what type of dedicated server provider you opt for, you’re looking at storage space that can range from several hundred gigabytes (GB) to several tens of terabytes (TB) of data.
Although there’s a much higher degree of power with a dedicated server, it also comes at a much higher cost. That’s why Namecheap offers three category levels to choose from: Entry, Medium, or Advanced as well as three server management levels: User-Responsible, Basic, and Complete. For those of you who are tech-shy, this gives you options to choose from.
3. VPS Hosting
Virtual private server hosting, or VPS Hosting, operates and performs just like dedicated server hosting, except it’s partitioned into multiple “virtual” servers. A VPS offers security and flexibility, independence from your neighbors, and full control over your hosting environment, including root access.
Since most VPS plans are based around the amount of dedicated RAM available, if your app requires more RAM and higher-than-expected traffic levels, you can easily set that up beforehand.
Unless you opt for a VPS with management support, a la dedicated server hosting, you or your mobile app developer must have some prior system administration knowledge.
4. Cloud Hosting
Truth be told, there’s no shortage of cloud hosting providers out there to host your app. However, since they don’t all offer the same services at the same prices, it’s important to take note of what’s most important with your respective app.
A cloud-based server is similar to a VPS in the sense that once you require more computing power, it’s got your back. Cloud hosting is also very big on server security, so if you’re looking to protect sensitive data, etc., it’s a solid choice. However, your operating system (OS) and software administration are all on your and/or your hired mobile app developer.
For more information on the ins and outs of cloud hosting, check out my previous article.
Until fairly recently, in order to advertise your product and/or service, a mobile app was seen as secondary to a standalone website. Nowadays, however, most solopreneurs and small business owners look to an easy-to-use mobile app as the first gateway to their customers.
Just as all apps are created differently, so is application hosting. It’s definitely not a one-size-fits-all approach. In other words, the software requirements of your app will dictate the hosting features needed. That’s why features such as 99% uptime and 24/7 customer support (both of which Namecheap hosting offers) will be particularly attractive for you, especially if you plan to keep your app running smoothly and available around the clock.