What is Web Hosting? Shared vs VPS vs Dedicated vs Cloud

You’re about to create a website or start a blog, you’re lurking around and thinking of what type of web hosting you need.

But first – the basics:

What is Web Hosting?

To put it simply, web hosting is where your website will be located on the Internet.

Most of your current files (documents, pictures, software etc) are sitting on your personal computer/laptop.

Only you can access them, right? If you wanted to show those files to other people, you’d have to send the files to those people.

Well, think of web hosting as sending your ‘files’ to a whole lot of people.

Your website is the ‘file’ and essentially it’s being put up on the internet for people to view. Instead of having to send complex website files to people for them to be able to see your website, they can simply type in your website URL and view it all there! As an example, my website URL is www.websitesetup.org.

If you don’t have a domain name yet, use these 10 tips to choose a domain name.


Image from executionists.com

Why do I need web hosting?

I covered this in the previous section, but here’s another explanation of it.

Web hosting allows you to put ALL your website content up on the Internet; it allows everyone to view what you have uploaded there, whether it’s a professional website, a blog, or just some pictures.

Instead of sending files to people, it allows you to host those files online so that other people can access them. In terms of a blog, instead of writing the documents offline and having to send them to everyone, people can simply read them online – easy!

Oh, there’s also the fact that if you had to send the documents to everyone, you wouldn’t find many people reading it! Because the Internet is so open and can be accessed by anyone, it allows people all over the world to read your blog. Having web hosting means all those potential readers will be able to view your blog even when you’re asleep.

Down-side of Web Hosting: It’s NOT Free…

As always, there’s also a down-side of using web hosting: It will cost you some money.

Prices can vary a lot – from $2 per month to $500 per month. I’ll explain everything in the next paragraphs. In short – without web hosting, you won’t be able to set up your website for others to read & browse. Yes, that awesome webpage that you just created will sit on your laptop/PC, but only YOU can see it.

Thus – you’ll need hosting!

What are the different types of Web Hosting? Which one should I choose?

That’s a tricky question. It all comes down to one simple question: What are you going to be using it for?

Are you setting up a business website? Running a blog? Showing a bunch of photos (thinking of making the next Instagram)?

First off – there are four main hosting solutions – Shared, Dedicated, VPS and Cloud hosting.

Not only does it depend on what you need the hosting for – choosing a web host depends on your budget as well. As you can imagine, shared hosting is quite a bit cheaper than dedicated hosting, so it’s up to you to weigh the pros and cons and figure out which one might be best for you.

I’m about to explain the pros and cons for you. All you really have to do is read them, then choose one. Easy, right? Let’s do it!


Prices vary from $2 to $25 (per month).

This is the most classic and most popular hosting plan among most people in the world. The main reason why people pick this plan is that they actually don’t need more than that. It’s also usually the cheapest hosting option.

It’s very similar to living with your friends in one apartment. Like sharing your kitchen facilities for making food, using one internet provider and watching one television.

What it means is that you’ll share all your resources with each other, e.g data, CPU time, memory and disk space. If you are lucky (99% you are), you should be fine with that. However, there are some rare cases when someone is using a lot of resources and thus your site speed will go down a bit. If that happens, it’s usually wise to get in touch with your web hosting support and tell them your problem. If you are lucky, you’ll be moved to another “room”.

PROS (+)

  • Simple
  • Affordable
  • No complex setup process

In short – it requires the least amount of tech knowledge and financial investment.

CONS (+)

  • There’s more than one website on the same server
  • You don’t have the full control over the server or the performance

Recommended hosts for shared hosting:

Here’s a handy list of the 10 best WordPress hosting services.

2. VPS (Virtual Private Server)

Prices vary from $10 to $70 (per month).

Now, VPS is very different. This one’s more like owning a condo. You’re still sharing and playing nice with the others in your place, but you’re responsible for what happens and keeping everything patched up.

There’s a lot less sharing because there are fewer people, and you have separate allowances each. The CPU time and memory are still shared by everyone, but you also have a chunk of both of those allotted just to you.

PROS (+)

  • No “sharing” with others
  • More powerful than shared hosting
  • Usually better performance and faster loading times

CONS (-)

  • Higher cost
  • Sometimes comes with a more technical set up process

Recommended hosts for VPS hosting:


Prices vary from $60 to $800 (per month).

Now we’re talking! So you want to own your own house? No problem!

That’s what dedicated hosting is all about. All the resources belong to you now. You don’t share resources like CPU time and memory with anyone else, and there are no one else’s accounts on your hosting (unless you let them, of course – but that’s another post for another time).

About the cost – you can probably find the cheapest dedicated hosting starting from $50, but this can go up to $800 as well.

PROS (+)

  • Full control over the server
  • Great performance

If you’re looking for maximum control over things, and a great performance from your server, this is where you’d like to be.

CONS (-)

  • High costs
  • Higher responsibility

Make sure that you bring your wallet. It’s the most expensive option. If things go wrong, it’s on you. Call up that IT buddy of yours, because you just might need him at some point if things go south. Make sure you know what you’re getting into with dedicated hosting.

While the freedom is great, it comes with the issues of freedom – namely, your stuff is your responsibility, and no one else’s!


Prices vary from $1.60 to $170 (per month).

Cloud hosting is an entirely different kind of animal.

I guess you could say it’s a little like renting. With normal hosting, you get a machine that gives you resources, like memory and CPU time.

With Cloud hosting, you don’t have a machine. Your hardware is virtual, which brings a whole host of cool benefits. It’s pretty advanced and can be pretty cost-efficient when compared to the other types of hosting. It’s definitely something that is trending from 2015 and beyond.

PROS (+)

  • Only pay for what you use
  • Flexible

Of all the hosting options we’ve talked about, cloud hosting is by far the most scalable and efficient. With cloud hosting, you only pay for what you use. For example, let’s say your blog had a fantastic month where you got double – no – triple the traffic than it usually does.

The server starts screaming because it can’t handle that much loading. With cloud computing, the server doesn’t just pack up and run. You can simply ask for more server space and bandwidth. It’s flexible which makes it very cost effective. Rather than paying X amount each month for an amount you may never even reach – depending on your goals – simply pay for cloud hosting and only pay for what you use.

It’s similar to pay as you go monthly phone contract. Pay for the minutes you actually use, not a big bundle that costs a lot more.

CONS (-)

Again, there are disadvantages to this option as well. It takes advanced knowledge in terms of IT, so be aware of that when considering cloud hosting. Unless you know what you’re doing, it could get really confusing!

The other downside, which is widely discussed, is that cloud hosting is potentially insecure. Hotly debated, there is the consideration that your servers are all hosted in the ‘cloud’, meaning in virtual space. That could leave it open to cyber-attacks, some suggest. It’s an arguable point, definitely something to be considered when choosing your hosting.

There are Your Options

Now you have it; the pros and cons of each type of hosting. I know – it’s a bit to take in. I’ve tried to make it as easy as possible for you to decide, pointing out the obvious pros and cons of each.

It’s up to you to decide what your needs are. If you’re planning to build a huge blogging platform where thousands of people are going to visit each month, you might want to consider dedicated hosting or cloud hosting, due to the demand you’re going to have. For more information about different hosting companies, feel free to check out web hosting reviews on HostingFacts.com

If you’re just starting up something smaller, why pay an arm and a leg for what you don’t actually need? Grab some shared hosting or even VPS hosting, and save yourself some cash.

I put together an infographic that perhaps gives you a better overview:

What is Web Hosting - comparison infographic

Want to embed this infographic on your own blog/website? Use this image URL: https://websitesetup.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/12/What-is-Web-Hosting-comparison-infographic.png


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