A Modern View on Web Hosting

Hosting website has changed a lot in the last 10 years. Here's an up to date view on what your options are in 2017.

Posted 6th November 2017 • Business

Article updated November 1st, 2022

Web hosting has changed a lot in the last 10 years. When I first started building sites in 2013, dedicated hosting was very expensive and each site typically sat on a server somewhere managed by a company, along with dozens of other websites. You never knew which other sites yours shared a server with, and depending on what those other sites were doing, they could affect the performance of yours. Those days are thankfully gone, and there are now much more attractive options. Let's take a look at the options today.

Shared Hosting

Your site is on a server with lots of other websites. It's very cheap, and you usually have some kind of access to your website via a control panel. Popular sites for this kind of hosting are GoDaddy and 123reg. I cannot recommend this kind of hosting to anyone under any circumstances today (even if you ignore how often they get hacked). Although it's cheap, the performance of shared hosting is slow, downtime is frequent and data breaches are common. Your website is probably the largest public-facing entity in your business; so why host it on the cheapest possible option?

Managed Hosting

Similar to shared hosting, you can also get an IT support company to host your site and provide a support contract. In this case, your hosting is likely to still be on a server with a number of other sites and you're limited to the subset of services they provide (for example, chooseing your verison of PHP, but no root SSH access). When you need to install something on your server, you'll have to file a support ticket and you may or may not be able to have whatever you need installed (think PHP extensions and CLI applications).

VPS Hosting

Over the last few years, VPS hosting (Virtual Private Server) has really taken off. Companies like UpCloud and DigitalOcean provide datacenters where you pay to rent a virtual machine, with only your site on it and a set of dedicated resources. You can do whatever you like with them, typically installing a Linux operating system and using it as a web server. Hosting your site this way has a large number of benefits:

  • Install anything you need without waiting for the hosting company to make it available
  • Customise the server for the website you're building
  • Only pay for the resources you need (CPU, memory, hard drive space etc.)
  • You can use the server for things other than web hosting (email servers or file storage)
  • Choose where the server is located, making it closer to the people who will be using it most
  • You can manage everything to do with the web hosting, such as SSL ceritificates, limit access to certain developers, automate package and security updates

While the performance of VPS hosting far outweighs the cheaper options, it has one downside - you need to know what you're doing.

For developers, there are resources to help provision these servers with the necessary software to run a website. On all our web servers that we manage for clients, we do this with Ploi.

Where does that leave us?

VPS hosting is the way forward, but actually setting it up and getting it running requires some advanced knowledge of servers and DNS; which is where we come in. Although we recommend that clients always own their own hosting, we can set it up, provision it and maintain it for you, and you keep the keys. You get your own server for your site safe in the knowledge that no one else is using it, and we help you get the most out of it.

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