Common types of hosting service explained

26 Nov 2017

There are over 966 million websites in the world today, out of which, 76.5 million of them runs on WordPress.

One of the questions we get asked a lot, how is WP Sifu compared with gazillion of hosting service providers out there; especially those who will host your website for a fee lesser than a bowl of minced meat noodle.

As always, we live by our principle of KISS (Keep it simple, sweetheart). We are going to use easy analogy to explain what are the different type of hosting services out there, and how is WP Sifu compared with them.

Generally, you will find the following four types of hosting services:

  1. Shared Hosting
  2. Dedicated Hosting
  3. VPS Hosting
  4. Cloud Hosting

This list is by no means exhaustive, there are still free hosting services like Blogspot, website builders like Wix, and even people who host their own server that sits in the kitchen. But we are not covering those today.

We’ll start with the most common hosting service type…

Shared Hosting

In case you didn’t know already, a website needs to be hosted on a web server. A web server is like a super computer that is connected to the internet. So when you subscribe to shared hosting service, your website will be hosted in a web server that is also hosting many, many! May other websites!

To make it really easy for you to understand how Shared Hosting works — think about taking the Singapore’s MRT train!

That’s right, you get the picture right away! Not the part about service breakdowns (although it does happen to shared hosting service quite a lot too!) But we are comparing the experience.

Taking MRT train

  • You are sharing the MRT train with many other commuters to get from point A to point B.
  • You cant control where the train goes, when to start or stop.
  • It’s very cheap, though may not be the fastest way to travel.
  • It can get really crowded.
  • The well-bring of the trains is in the hands of the company that owns them, whether or not they up keep the trains, we don’t know, but they will certainly affect us greatly when the trains fail to run.

Using shared hosting service

  • You are sharing the same server resources with many other customers.
  • You can’t control what server software to use in the shared hosting environment, how much RAM it should have or when you want to reboot it.
  • It’s very cheap, though may not be the most efficient in performance.
  • It can get really crowded.
  • The performance of the server lies in the hands of the hosting service provider. They may or may not up keep the server. Most of all, they may not control what kind of customers or websites will be running on the shared server. Should there be a bad apple among the crowd, everyone may get affected!

Just to add one more point: As a computer user, you know you need to update your software every now and then. It is the same case for web server, the software needs to be updated — even more regularly! However, due to the fact that a shared server may be hosting thousands of different kind of websites running on different kind of CMS (WordPress, Drupal, Joomla, etc), it becomes a huge challenge to manage software update, since doing so may cause some websites to break, especially those that are still running on outdated CMS. So more often than not, hosting service providers chose to differ any software update for as long as they could in order to avoid disastrous aftermath.

So yes, when you are using shared hosting service, it is very likely that your website is running on an older server software, thus *touchwood* may not offer your website the most secure environment!

Dedicated Hosting

Dedicated Hosting, as the name suggests, it’s dedicatedly yours! If the explanation of shared hosting service above scares you, and if budget permits, dedicated hosting server is a viable option, with some caveats.

Since we already started by using an example of transportation, we are going to stick to the path. The experience of using Dedicated Hosting is like driving your own car.

Driving your own car

  • You are the owner of the car, you can do what you want with it!
  • You should know how to drive it, or you will have to hire someone to drive it.
  • You have to maintain your car and all relevant costs, eg petrol, road tax, insurance, changing black oil,

Using dedicated hosting service

  • You own the server, you can choose what software to install and configure its specifications.
  • You should know how to manage your own server, or you will have to hire someone to do it.
  • You have to maintain your server and all relevant costs, eg software, hardware, bandwidth, security, etc.

Just like everything else in life, your car has a life span; so does your server. It may last very long, depending on how well you maintain it. It may break down regularly, depending on how hard it works. So you need to factor in some contingency budget for unexpected situations. With that said, you need to consider if your need justifies the costs and responsibilities that come with the ownership of the server. Because if it doesn’t, there’s always the next option…

VPS Hosting

VPS stands for Virtual Private Server. You may think of it as the hybrid of shared hosting and dedicated hosting. You will still be sharing the same server with many other customers, but the VPS setup makes it seem like you are having a server of your own as you are able to control more aspects of the server, such as the choice of server operating system and whatever additional software you want to install onto the server.

This may not be the best analogy, but we’ll akin VPS to renting a car.

Renting a car

  • Just like having your own car, you need to be able to drive, or hire someone to drive it.
  • It will probably cost more in the long run, but good thing is you can switch car from time to time.

Using VPS hosting

  • Just like owning a dedicated server, you need to be able to manage it, or hire someone to manage it.
  • It will probably cost more in the long run, but you may switch to different configuration from time to time since you do not need to care about hardware upgrade.

As mentioned earlier, comparing with shared hosting and dedicated hosting, you get to enjoy the best of both worlds: almost as much control as having a dedicated server but without having to bear the full cost of it. However, just like any of the two options, you will still need to take care of the software update as well as many other maintenance by yourself (or whoever you have hired to manage the server).

Cloud Hosting

Cloud Hosting is a new type of hosting technology got popularized in the last few years. Despite the fancy name, cloud hosting is pretty much like other forms of hosting service; except, instead of involving just one single physical server with a physical hard disk inside, a cloud server may be made up of several different hardware placed in several locations, connected together using smart software that lets you scale up or down on the computing power you need. Because of the nature of how cloud hosting works, you will never have to worry about hardware or software maintenance.

We almost couldn’t come up with the right analogy to describe cloud hosting, until we thought about hourly car rental. Yes, cloud hosting closely resembles VPS hosting except it’s a lot more flexible. Just like hourly car rental that lets you pay for only the time you use the car.

One thing is for sure, cloud hosting has absolutely nothing to do with the cloud. So you can sleep well knowing bad weather will not affect your website performance.

Where does WP Sifu stand

We have used over 1,300 words to explain various types of hosting service by using simple analogy that you can easily relate to. We cannot not do the same for WP Sifu. So where exactly does WP Sifu stand? First of all, we don’t host our customers’ website in a server shared with 500 other customers, so we are not the MRT! Our monthly fee is far from significant when comparing to dedicated server, so we are not your private car. We are closest to the combination of VPS + cloud hosting, which means to say, your website will be given all the resources it needs in order to run optimally, yet there is no need for you to worry about server hardware and software. Better still, should you need anything done for your website, be it content update or adding a graphic banner, we will be at your service. So to put it simply, we are very much like your Uber or Grab driver!

If you have been using Uber or Grab already, it’s not hard to understand what WP Sifu does. Except, we are probably much friendlier 😉