Most business owners create a website without giving much thought to selecting the right web hosting package. One of the Google page ranking measurements is page loading speed. Have a slow website and your page ranking will suffer. Also, website visitors will quickly leave a slow loading website. Choosing the right web hosting plan will help set up your website for success.

Types of web hosting

There are three main types of web hosting. The most popular is shared web hosting, followed by virtual private server, and dedicated hosting. When selecting a plan, consider host reliability (including uptime), upgrade options, hosting features such as number of domains allowed, cost of hosting (both initial and renewal prices), hosting maintenance tools (normally through a control panel), server usage limits (bandwidth, disk space, and databases), and technical support. Understanding how the different types of web hosting plans work will help you choose the best plan for your business..

Shared Web Hosting

Undoubtedly, the most popular web hosting plan is the shared hosting package. Your website sits alongside other websites (hundreds or more) on the same server. A server has a limited amount of hardware (memory, disk space, etc). Once a shared server becomes filled, hosting companies add another server. The biggest problem with shared servers is your website is competing with the other hosted websites for resources. The server tends to slow down when trying to provide services for the numerous websites being hosted. Most new small businesses select a shared plan when starting out. The best feature of shared web hosting is the price. You can find monthly rates as low as $2.99 per month (for initial term only). Most shared hosting plans renew at between $15.00 and $20.00 per month.

Virtual Private Server

A virtual private server (VPS) is similar to shared hosting plans in that there are different websites hosted on the same server. The biggest difference is that each VPS gets allocated a guaranteed set of resources (memory and disk space). The number of supported websites for each server is lower (between 10-20). A VPS is highly configurable because you have more control over how the VPS is set up. Also, a VPS is scalable. You can purchase additional resources as your business website needs increase. VPS hosting plans are available for between $20.00 and $50.00 per month.

Dedicated Server

On a dedicated server plan, your website is the only one operating on the server. Your website does not suffer from any of the ‘bad neighbour’ issues related with shared hosting plans. There are typically two types of dedicated server plans (managed and unmanaged). With the unmanaged plan, you are responsible for setting everything up (operating system, web server software, database software, etc). This requires a lot of technical expertise. Managed plans provide a server with the software already installed (all you do is tweak the settings and upload your website). Dedicated web servers typically cost $100.00 and up per month.

What is the best plan for me?

So which web hosting plan is best for your small business? That depends. HostGator provides a chart for selecting the best web hosting plan. Their shared plans can handle 7,000 – 8,00 visits per day, their VPS plan can handle 30,000 to 35,000 visits per day, and they recommend a dedicated server for over 35,000 visitors per day. While this may seem like a lot of traffic, not all web hosts count visits the same. For example, some hosts count each request to the server as a visit (i.e. a page with nine images could be counted as 10 or more visits). If a visitor views ten pages each with nine images, then that would count as 100 visits. Ten visitors doing the same will count as 1,000 visits.

If you are just starting out and the number of website visitors is relatively small, you may do ok with a shared hosting plan. As your website popularity grows, you may need to switch to a VPS plan. Once your website becomes very popular, you may need a dedicated server. You should have a plan for website success when choosing a web hosting solution. Ensure you pick a company that allows you to change plans easily. Not all companies offer all three types of plans. Choosing correctly now will help alleviate problems in the future.

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