Understanding Shared, Virtual and Dedicated Hosting

The web hosting industry and its thousands of providers offer a vast number of hosting solutions today. But the three most common packages of services are shared hosting, virtual and dedicated hosting. Whether you’re setting up your first ever website or creating your 31st, when it comes down to choosing a hosting provider, these are your options. But what kind of hosting do they indicate, how do they differ from each other and which one is best for you?

1. Shared Hosting

Sharing a server with up to hundreds of other websites, you will be limited in many ways. Your hosting provider, like any other, can offer shared web hosting based on the premonition that its customers actually won’t use all the storage space and bandwidth that they are promised.

The fact is that most shared hosting clients are beginner webmasters running small websites with traffic volumes that only require a fraction of the space and bandwidth that is included in the hosting deal. That is why hosting companies can promise unlimited storage space or bandwidth – since you will probably never exceed more than a small percentage of the GBs your are promised in storage space and bandwidth.

However, as you sign up to a shared hosting account you will normally agree to a certain percent of the server CPU usage that you are not allowed to exceed. And though a rare occurrence, sudden peaks in website traffic and data transfer may cause your website to exceed the limit. The hosting provider then has the right to temporarily seize your website.

2. Virtual Private Hosting

Now, the remaining two hosting options are in many ways your rescue from shared hosting, as they both indicate your own server your own dedicated server. A virtual private server (VPS) also called Virtual Dedicated Server (VDS) is the solution that rightfully can be placed between shared hosting and a dedicated server.

While physically still sharing a server with other hosting clients, a VPS offer an environment of an own server. One single server can hence be divided into several individual units that run on their own operative system and can be individually rebooted. However, you will still be sharing the physical server’s CPU-usage, disk space and bandwidth with other VPS users.

3. Dedicated Hosting

Of these three hosting options, Dedicated hosting is perhaps the most extensive and all-inclusive. It is also the one hosting option that can use the adjective ‘unlimited’ in its rightful meaning. You will get a server, dedicated to your websites and your websites only. No more sharing, official or unofficial. All storage space, bandwidth and CPU capacity is for you to use. The only limitation is based on the actual performance standards and size of the server. And that can always be upgraded.

To summarize compared to a dedicated server, your own physical server, a VPS is simply an economic solution by hosting providers to be able to offer a dedicated server environment to a more affordable price. A virtual private server should at most be seen as the middle stop between shared and dedicated hosting. A virtual private server or shared web hosting are still merely economically bound solutions, regardless to your needs, and are far more limited than a dedicated server.

This article was submitted by Chris Reynolds from WebHostingSearch.com and written by Brian Franklin, who is dedicated to writing about web hosting. Spending the early years of his career as client manager at a number of hosting companies, Brian recently took the step into consulting and joined the WebHostingSearch.com team in early 2008 where he sheds light on the hosting industry and how to find the perfect hosting provider. You too can write a guest article here and share your tips.

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About the Author: P Chandra is editor of QOT, one of India's earliest tech bloggers since 2004. A tech enthusiast with expertise in coding, WordPress, web tools, SEO and DIY hacks.