If you’re serious about running a blog, you need to get serious about your design, your content and your hosting. For the most part, people solely focus on their content when it comes to getting their blog off the ground but how the content is presented and whether or not the user can actually access your content in a timely manner is also of the utmost importance.
I won’t bother with going into the fundamentals of blog design during this article, but I will explain your hosting options as hosting is just one of the things where most people think any old account will do and that’s really not the case. If you want your blog to be successful, it needs to be hosted somewhere reputable and needs to have enough resources at its disposal to perform and serve content properly.
The last thing you want is to write an amazing article and have trouble serving it to the public. Below I’ll discuss the options available when it comes to hosting along with the pros and cons of each solution.
This is the most common of all the hosting types out there. As the name suggests it means your blog will share resources with other websites hosted on the same physical server.
By resources I’m talking about CPU (processing power), disk space, memory (RAM) and bandwidth. While shared hosting is more than adequate for most low traffic blogs, it’s not advisable. Even if your blog is not using a particular high amount of resources, another website on the server could be and as a result of this the performance of your own site could be affected inadvertently.
Fortunately, most hosting providers actively monitor such figures and can often pick up on a particular site using a lot of resources, fairly quickly and address the issue. Shared hosting is the cheapest option out there when it comes to web hosting and there isn’t a great deal of room for scalability. But with that said, even the lowest shared hosting packages should have no issue in supporting a regular, personal, low traffic blog. Many hosting providers will also let you increase the specification of the package should you require more disk space or bandwidth so it is scalable to some extent but should be avoided if you’re sitting on a monster of a blog.
A typical selection of packages will look like this with prices increasing based on how much you’re using in terms of resources or how many websites/blogs you’re looking to host. If you’re considering one of the higher end packages, with any host it may be worth making the jump to one of the higher end solutions such as cloud hosting or a VPS rather than just paying for a high-end shared package.
VPS (Virtual Private Server)
This is the closest you can come to a dedicated server without getting an actual physical machine. It acts/behaves the same as a dedicated server in that the resources at your disposal are your resources to use solely, they’re not shared across other sites like with shared hosting but you are limited to the physical resources of the machine. Most people use VPS solutions because shared hosting isn’t enough and price wise they provide a good middle ground between the cheaper shared packages and the higher end dedicated server solutions.
The VPS is software based which means it’s a piece of software that controls the resources you have available to you but you can fully customize the plan as if it was a real dedicated server. As the VPS is controlled via software it makes upgrading plans and packages a breeze as adding more disk space, more memory and more bandwidth is all just point and click from an admin perspective. It’s all completely virtual but again you’re limited by the resources of the physical machine.
VPS solutions are intended for those who want full server control, full command line access and full resources at their disposal. You will not need a VPS solution for a regular blog unless you simply wanted more resources than those of a traditional shared solution – but if it’s resources you’re after, VPS tend to be a bit old school you’d be much better off with a cloud solution as discussed below.
When it comes to resources and having them at your disposal, there is no better solution than the cloud or cloud hosting. Cloud computing is a recent advent in itself but cloud hosting is increasing in prominence due to its ability to provide virtually limitless resources to anyone who requests them. You can get a general idea of it here but I’ll give you a brief run down of what it is below.
Cloud hosting (and cloud computing in general) relies on underlying computer-processing power than can be accessed if/when you need it. You are not limited to the physical specifications of a single computer such as a dedicated server or the software-imposed restrictions of a VPS. In short, cloud computing is shared computing power that is allocated and distributed wherever there is the need. In simple terms, imagine 20 web servers, all connected and sharing resources. At one end of the scale, you’ve got a website serving customers that only requires the resources of 1 machine but at the other end of the scale you’ve got a website that needs the resources of 19 machines. A cloud solution would support this perfectly as the resources are shared and distributed effectively based on who needs it most – and it’s all real-time. If the single machine website suddenly needed more resources, the shared-resources of the cloud would provide it. Now imagine this on a much bigger scale, thousands of web servers all in sync sharing resources based on whichever site needs it the most. That is the fundamental ideal of cloud hosting and cloud computing in general.
I recently had it described to me like the electricity in your home. You’re not limited to a fixed amount of power for your home specifically, nor are you limited to a fixed amount for your street. You can use as much electricity as you like (within reason) and your local power station will distribute as needed. This is how cloud hosting works, no limits, effectively take what you need. This is why it becomes a much more viable solution than working in the confines of a dedicated physical machine.
A dedicated server is a dedicated, physical machine, which is solely tasked with running your blog (or whatever other sites you decide to put on it). It shared no resources with other third party owned websites and the performance/resources are limited to what is in the physical machine. It can be likened to your home, desktop computer – whatever spec it is that is the spec and there is no room for movement short of opening up the case and adding more hardware.
Dedicated servers tend to be a drying breed unfortunately particularly with the advent of The Cloud which has unlimited resources at its disposal. If you had a choice to be confined to a strict machine spec or one which is truly unlimited in terms of performance, you can imagine what most people choose.
With that said, some people prefer the security of a dedicated server and if you require server side software, which isn’t provided by your average cloud provider then you may find a dedicated server is still a viable option. For the most part, they’re yours to do as you please with in terms of software and features so if you have a highly specific build, want full configuration of Apache and know your way around a Linux shell then you may just find it a better option.
So all in all, whatever the size of your blog, there are options out there. It’s just of upmost importance that you choose a solution that fits your requirements and traffic levels or you’ll end up paying for it.