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What is Web Hosting? And How to Choose the Best Web Hosting for My Website?

by Fahad Mahmood
May 30, 2022
Cloud Web Hosting

What is Web Hosting?

Finished making an amazing website for your business? Your next step is to choose the right web hosting. Web hosting enables you to make your website available worldwide by uploading a copy of your website files to your web hosting account. Web servers are computers running in a data centre. There are tons of web hosting providers that offer affordable web hosting services, but not all of them are the same. So before you choose your hosting provider, let's understand a few important aspects of web hosting.

Traditional Hosting vs Cloud Hosting

Traditional web hosting refers to the early days model, where a hosting company installs and runs hosting software on a dedicated computer. This model is mostly redundant because it is vulnerable to failure and downtime. When something happens to the server, the hosting company have to repair or restore your website to another server from their backup.

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Many big hosting providers have not moved their systems to the modern cloud platform because of their large investment in infrastructure. So, when you are looking for a reliable web hosting provider, ask them if they run their hosting service on cloud or legacy servers.

Cloud Web Hosting

Cloud is the modern way to run any IT infrastructure, and it enables us to build a highly redundant and scalable web hosting system. It means there are fewer chances for your website to be unavailable. Even if something goes wrong, you get a faster and more automated recovery than traditional web hosting.

Cloud hosting works on many interconnected servers instead of one physical server. An actual hosting server is a virtual machine that can run on one of many physical servers. If something happens to an individual physical server, it does not impact your website. Furthermore, cloud hosting providers place physical servers across different cities or continents to provide better redundancy.

So when you are looking for web hosting, remember cloud hosting is better than traditional hosting.

Not All Cloud Hosting Services are the Same:

Cloud is an umbrella term used for any system that runs virtual machines on a cluster of physical computers. But not all cloud setups are the same. Some only consist of a handful of physical servers connected within a single physical location. Many hosting providers joined their existing servers and loaded them with cloud operating systems to improve their services and market their products as Cloud Hosting. But these cloud setups are small and limited in their capacity to provide true benefits of the modern cloud.

When shopping for cloud hosting providers, look for the companies that run their service on cutting edge, highly distributed and scalable clouds like Amazon. Amazon Cloud Services, also called AWS, is the largest cloud provider. AWS owns over 80% of the market share. In addition to AWS, Azure and Google Cloud are some of the largest cloud hosting systems. Many large websites like Netflix rely on these cloud providers.

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You can access a highly reliable and super fast hosting infrastructure by hosting your website with a hosting provider that runs their infrastructure on AWS Cloud.

Managed vs Un-Managed Hosting

Once you choose your cloud web hosting provider, you must make sure that you understand the difference between managed and unmanaged hosting.

The hosting provider is responsible for looking after your web server in a managed hosting agreement. You also get technical support, website monitoring, regular backups, and software updates.

In an unmanaged hosting agreement, the hosting provider is only responsible for basic server setup. You are responsible for doing the rest, like troubleshooting any configuration issues, updating the server, running backups, etc. Un-Managed hosting is cheaper than Managed hosting. So if you are confident, go for unmanaged hosting to save some extra dollars; otherwise, stick to fully managed web hosting.

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Types of Web Hosting

Shared Web Hosting

Shared Web hosting is the most common hosting used by small-medium websites. You are most likely to get shared hosting when you start a new website. Shared web hosting is affordable and only costs a few dollars per month. Your hosting provider shares the same server with many other customers to offer a cost-effective deal.

You don't need to know how to manage the web hosting server for shared web hosting. That's because your hosting provider will be managing it for you. In other words, shared web hosting is almost always a fully managed service.

Cloud VPS Hosting

If your website is busy and requires a unique configuration, choose Cloud VPS (Virtual Private Server) hosting. The hosting provider creates a separate virtual server with dedicated CPU, RAM, and storage resources. You don't share these resources with anyone. Using VPS, you can get better, consistent performance and improve security.

Difference Between Traditional VPS and Amazon VPS Hosting

You only view the virtual CPU and RAM usage in a VPS setup. You cannot view the actual CPU or RAM on the physical computer—most traditional VPS providers overprovision resources. For example, if the physical server has 10 CPUs and 50 GB RAM, they may sell 20 CPUs and 100 GB RAM. Overprovisioning is common practice in the industry to make more money. As a result, your VPS server will perform poorly during busy hours, and you won't know why?

Amazon-hosted cloud VPS offers committed resources and puts an end to the overprovisioning practice. Yes, it is a bit more expensive than other Cloud VPS servers. But you get exact capacity, higher availability, and consistent performance.

Dedicated Servers

Dedicated servers are things of the past. However, if you are still looking for one, you are missing out on the benefit of modern tech. Instead, your website runs the risk of higher downtime, slower recovery, and almost zero scalability.

Suppose you need to upgrade your dedicated server to higher specs. Your website hosting provider will have to move you to a different server or plan downtime to upgrade your existing server. Compared with the cloud VPS, the hosting provider only needs five minutes to upgrade your VPS to double, triple or enlarge it to any size.

If there is a hardware failure on a dedicated server, your hosting provider will have to repair it or restore your website to a replacement server. Both are slow time taking tasks and fail to offer an always-available web experience for your users.

Top 8 Questions You Should Ask Your Web Hosting Provider:

Where is the Server Located? Like City and Country

Your server location is important because if your customers are in Australia and you host your website in the US, your customer will get slow performance due to the distance.

Is Your Server Hosted in the Cloud?

Again, shared hosting can be a traditional single server model or highly redundant Cloud Web Hosting. Make sure your shared hosting provider hosts their server in the cloud.

Which Cloud Provider Do You Use to Host Your Server?

If your web hosting provider hosts the servers in Amazon Cloud Services, Azure or Google Cloud, it is a much better offering than any small-time cloud setup.

How Many CPU and Memory Resources Do I Get with the Shared Hosting?

While all websites hosted on a shared web hosting server share CPU and Memory (RAM). The hosting provider use software like Cloud Linux to set the maximum resource limit per account. It ensures that no one website can consume the whole server and leave others on an unfair deal. However, many cheap web hosting companies set very small amounts of CPU and RAM per account. Therefore, it can seriously impact your website, especially at busy times.

Do You Provide Backup?

Backups are not just important; they are critical, especially for busy websites and online stores. A website can fail due to security, human error, or other reasons. Regularly not backing your website can have you down for months or even put you out of business.

How Often Do You Backup?

Most hosting providers backup your website once every day. It may be sufficient for a small website, but it isn't for an online store or busy website. For example, if your website files are deleted or corrupted just before the scheduled backup, you could lose 24 hours' worth of data. By reducing the gap between two backup cycles, you shrink the risk of losing too many changes. It is known as RPO (Recovery Point Objectives) in the industry. So, if you run a busy online store with tens and hundreds of transactions per hour, you want to have closer recovery points by backing up more often.

At iVersion, our standard backup runs every 8 hours at no additional cost. So, you get three recovery points instead of one every day. We also offer a custom backup plan, in some cases backing up every hour or less for very busy sites. There is no one fit solution, so make sure you get the right backup frequency for your business website.

How Long Do You Keep the Backups?

There are many instances where you realise that something is wrong with your website after a few days or even weeks. So ask your hosting provider how long they retain the backups. For example, if something changed on your site 15 days ago, can you restore the file from 15 days back?

Most hosting providers only keep the last three to seven days of backups. At iVersion, we retain 30 days of backups (a total of 90 recovery points). We also offer a tailored retention policy to meet your business objectives.

Does Your Hosting Provider Include Website Security and Malware Protection?

There has been a serious rise in website attacks in recent years. Running a business website without website security and malware protection is a serious risk. In the past, if malicious hackers could take control of your website, they used to delete it. However, in most modern attacks, the malicious attacker leaves a small virus file on your website to steal user information or infect more computers. Usually, when you realise your website is infected, your website is already listed on a domain block list. It no longer appears in Google search, and when someone visits your website, the browser display warning. As a result, you lose revenue and risk your reputation.

Most web hosting providers don't offer website security and malware protection with their hosting packages. Instead, they usually ask you to pay more for third party security products like Sucuri or Sitelock, which double your cost.

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At iVersion, we offer complete website security and malware protection. If you have an infected website, you can move to our web hosting on a 30 days trial and get free malware cleanup.

Web Hosting Checklist

In summary, when you are looking for a web hosting for your business website, make sure:

  1. You get Cloud Web Hosting, which runs on one of the large clouds like Amazon Web Services.
  2. Choose shared cloud hosting for small-medium websites and a Cloud VPS server for a busy website with tailored needs.
  3. Choose fully managed Cloud VPS if you are unsure how to maintain the server.
  4. Ensure your cloud hosting provider offers regular backups and a decent retention period.
  5. Ask your hosting provider about your share cloud hosting account's CPU and RAM limits.
  6. Make sure you get malware and security protection for your website.

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