I often field questions about where to host a website and which type of account to get. The best host FOR YOU is the one that provides the services you need at a price you are willing to pay.
In the early years of my (more than) 15 years of having websites online I went through a series of hosts. However, I have been quite happy with two that I have been using for the last several years. Two Hosts? Yes, in my case I have several websites and will not put all my eggs in one basket (so to speak). I have been happy with both HostGator and Servint. I have reseller accounts at Hostgator and VPS accounts at Servint. HostGator also offers inexpensive “Shared Hosting” to go along with their Reseller Hosting plans, VPS accounts and dedicated server options. Servint offers VPS and Dedicated.
So, whats the difference in types of hosting?
Shared hosting is having space assigned on a server that you are sharing with several other webmasters (maybe hundreds on the same server). It is usually fine for people with one website or blog and do not have a lot of traffic (visitors) and don’t depend on it for part of their income.
A Reseller account allocates space to you in such a way that you can set up several domains (sites) within your allocated space. Reseller accounts are usually on a “shared” server but usually have tighter controls agains overuse by your “shared” neighbors.
VPS stands for Virtual Private Server and also allows for as many websites as you care to operate, within reason. It is an account set up on a server along with other similar acocunts. The difference is that “your” space is allocated individual server resources that cannot be usurped by another VPS on the same machine.
A Dedicated server means that you are leasing an entire webserver – all by yourself. You can have as many websites and/or other server based applications that you want. Unless you are willing to pay a good bit extra for management services the dedicated server is managed by YOU – meaning a lot of techie-type work. If you are reading this post you likely are not ready to consider a dedicated server.
Here is an analogy:
A dedicated server is like living in a house out in the country. It’s all yours – you don’t have to share – but if something goes wrong you must fix it. A VPS is like living in an apartment building where the building is taken care of by “management” but you take care of your own gas and electric and furniture and so on. A reseller account is like living in a dormitory at college – you have your own space but the neighbors can be quite noisy. A good dorm (reseller account) can be pretty well managed – or poorly managed. I’ve been quite happy with the two reseller spaces I currently have at Hostgator.
Shared hosting is like living in a barracks. ‘Nuff said?