There is nothing more frustrating as a webmaster then waking up in the morning, firing up your browser to check your website only to find a message saying "This site has exceeded it's bandwidth limits for the month"
It's embarrassing, time consuming and not to mention costly if you are missing out on sales.
On the other side of the scale, it can be very costly to be on a larger web hosting plan or dedicated server and hardly even use the services it offers.
Good quality web hosting is not cheap, but you need to balance your business needs with what you can really afford to pay.
So what web hosting service should you be using? Good question!
In this article I'm going to be talking about the pro's and con's of both shared web hosting and dedicated web hosting packages. By the end of the article you should have some idea what your online business needs now and what it will need when it expands.
Shared hosting is what most small online businesses use. Shared hosting means that your site is on one server that also holds other peoples websites as well. Your website will not be the only one on that server. Very few small online businesses need the power of a dedicated server.
Most companies offer a few different types of shared web hosting services. The only difference usually being how much disk space you want or how much transfer allowance you need.
The best way to show you what the difference is between shared hosting services is to show you an example.
Go to http://www.marblehost.com/hosting-plans.php
This is an example web hosting companies shared hosting services. As you can see they offer two different types of shared hosting services. Basically they offer a small and large service.
The major differences between each package really is how many domain names you can host, how much transfer (how many megabytes that are downloading from your website) you can have and how much disk space (how many files you can store) you need.
If you're just starting out online and haven't got a website up yet and not sure what you are doing exactly, start off with the small plan. That's more then enough for a small site or blog for that matter.
Now if you run a larger website and you offer a lot of downloads, say for example you're selling a rather large ebook, you might need the large service. Let's say you have a 10mb ebook for sale, the large service this company offers would allow you to have roughly 2000 downloads of that package before you ran out of bandwidth (transfer).
Dedicated hosting is for the big boys. It's for medium to big business looking to do a lot of work online. A dedicated server is just that, you're own server. You get your own server just for your website which is unlike shared hosting as you have to share a server.
There are many different packages available with dedicated hosting depending on how much you want to spend. The more resources a server has, IE, RAM, Hard drive space, processor speed, the more it will cost.
You can see that a dedicated server allows you a lot more disk space and transfer allowance. It also allows you unlimited domain names. Dedicated servers are also known to be a lot more stable and allow you more control over your website and are perfect for a professional image.
There are two types of dedicated servers....
Managed hosting offers you the support of a technical team looking after your server. They do all the updates and technical side of things for you. They will perform routine maintenance without you even asking. Managed hosting how ever does cost quite a lot more then un-managed usually.
Un-managed hosting isn't as support less as it sounds. Most dedicated servers do come with technical assistance and routine maintenance, but any support questions will more then likely cost you extra. If you need something added to your server, it will cost you a in maintenance fee's. Rebooting your server should also come free with un-managed dedicated hosting.
Multiple Domain Name Hosting
Another thing you should look at is whether or not you want to host multiple domain names with your one hosting package. Both shared hosting and dedicated hosting can allow you to do this. A lot of share hosting services now allow this.
I recommend always using a web host that allows you to have multiple domain names with your one account. It really does solve the problem of having multiple hosting accounts for different domain names.
Other Things To Look For
Other things to think about when searching for a web hosting company is what you intend to do with your website.
Do you need a lot of technical assistance? If so, look for a hosting company with live 24/7 support. Do you want to create a blog, or lot's of blogs? Then you will need to see if your web hosting company allows you to setup multiple MYSQL databases.