Once upon a time – well, 1991, to be precise – the internet was new. If you wanted a website, your own server was required. Fortunately, web hosting evolved quickly, and by 1995 several companies were offering free hosting with a couple of megabytes of storage. Professional services appeared soon after, and in 2008, the average web host storage quota was at least a thousand times bigger than in the web’s formative years.
Alongside the growth in hosting services came spiraling internet usage. In 1995, less than 1% of the world’s population was online. By 2018, that figure stood at around 55%. The earliest hosting companies were established by entrepreneurs who bought servers and rented out space. As demand grew, more companies and options entered the market. Meanwhile, innovations like virtual servers and cloud-based hosting boosted the space available. Barriers to entry dropped, along with costs.
Today, we can all publish online content or web pages, and server space is cheap and easy to find. But there are many ways to buy it, and numerous providers to choose from. The wrong choice could be disastrous for your business. So in this article, we will explore the available options and the differences between them.
What types of hosting are there?
There are three main types of hosting: dedicated servers, virtual servers, and shared hosting. You may see variations on these themes, but these are the basic forms:
#1. Dedicated, or Bare Metal, servers represent the gold standard in hosting.
As the website owner, you rent the entire physical server, and your site is the only one it contains. You have root access and total control over applications, software, security, and performance. Latency is also minimized. This makes Bare Metal servers ideal for high-traffic sites and data-intensive gaming and streaming applications, or those sites where security and/or responsiveness are paramount.
You need technical expertise to manage a dedicated server, and it costs moreb than other hosting options, but it’s a great alternative to a traditional on-premises server. At 100TB, we offer a range of bare metal server options – including fully customized, to support custom configurations.
#2. Virtual servers (sometimes called virtual private servers or virtual dedicated servers) are emulations of Bare Metal servers, hosted within a shared environment.
A virtual server gives you exclusive server space and many of the advanced benefits of a dedicated server, but it’s on a physical server that is also used by others. Virtual servers require less specialist expertise than Bare Metal, although they are certainly not suitable for beginners. They provide a number of similar benefits, including load balancing, scalability, and flexibility. At 100TB, we use state-of-the-art hardware to give virtual server users the same bandwidth as Bare Metal.
#3. Shared hosting is ideal for small sites or entry-level users.
As its name suggests, your site is held on the same server as many others, and processing capabilities are shared with neighboring users. Each client’s data is kept entirely separate, though. Shared hosting often comes with site-building applications and email capabilities pre-installed, so little user expertise is required. It’s also relatively affordable.
However, when hundreds or thousands of sites share a server, drawbacks may arise. Responsiveness might decrease if another site has a surge in activity, or if the server becomes overloaded. Shared environments are also more vulnerable to hacking and malicious activity. This makes shared hosting ideal for smaller sites where security is not paramount, but less appropriate for large-scale or security-sensitive applications.