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Virtual Hosting versus Dedicated Hosting: Which is Right for You
by Jennifer Sullivan Cassidy | Published Feb. 15, 2006
Article Rating: 3 Stars ( based on 3 votes)
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So you’re starting a website, and one of the first things you’ll need to do is to find a web host. After searching all of the hosting possibilities, you find there is more than just one type of hosting. So what do you do?

A successful web site depends on a good web host, but it's just as important to select the right kind of hosting account.  Most web hosting companies offer a choice between virtual shared hosting and dedicated hosting.  The basic difference between the two types of accounts is whether a site has its own server or shares one with other web sites, which determines whether that site has its own IP address or shares one with other sites.  With a virtual host, many websites are sharing a single machine with a single IP address.  In a dedicated hosting situation, a single machine is “dedicated” to a single customer.

In this article, I wanted to show you the major differences in the two types of hosting: virtual versus dedicated, and when you can determine it’s right to choose a dedicated server, time to move to a dedicated server from a virtual server, or stay with the shared hosting.

The Virtual Hosting Benefits and Risks

Virtual hosting has both its benefits and its risks.  The most obvious benefit of a virtual hosting account is price: it is low.  You can pay anywhere between $2.00 and $20.00 per month for shared hosting, depending upon the features of the host.  If you are just starting a website or don’t get a lot of traffic, or are concerned with price, then you’ll probably start with virtual hosting.  There are even free virtual host accounts available, although you’ll most likely have to put up with the advertising on the site from the host.  (Hey, they have to pay for the servers and your bandwidth somehow.)

One of the disadvantages of having your website hosted on a shared server is going to be server response time, or server load.  A server receives requests for files and serves up those files in the order the requests are received. It's like waiting on hold with your computer customer support company: if you're second in the queue, then you get served pretty quickly; but if you're the 20th customer on hold in the queue, you'll have to wait a lot longer.

How many sites reside on each server and how much traffic those sites get will also determine a server’s response time. While it isn’t necessarily due to the number of sites on a server, it will also depend upon those sites’ traffic. Response time may be slower if you share a server with 50 busy sites than if you share a server with 100 sites that only get a few hits per day.  A good idea is to ask the web host how many sites they allow on a shared server, and what the maximum traffic and transfer allowed for each site.

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