If you care about building an online reputation, one of the things you should pay attention to is the quality of web hosting. Choosing the right hosting solution and provider that will provide adequate technical support for system maintenance are key to the success of any digital initiative that requires high availability and operability of the website.
What exactly is web hosting?
When you visit any website, the data you access is stored on a machine. If this machine is shut down or there are technical problems that will cause downtime or interruptions, the website will not be available online. You must have tried to access a website at least once and received a message that a server error had occurred and the page could not be loaded. A good hosting provider is able to solve such problems quickly. In addition to support that may or may not be proactive, the main role of the hosting provider is to provide an “online home” for your website.
What is a web server?
It is quite possible that you have never thought about what happens when you enter a URL in a browser or click on a website in search results. For the average Internet user, understanding a web server is not necessary. However, if you have your own website or online store, it is important to get acquainted with this topic, among other things, with how to choose an adequate web hosting provider.
The simplest definition of a web server could be summarized as follows: web servers are programs that use the Hypertext Transfer Protocol (HTTP) to deliver files that make up web pages, such as the content of your website, to end users (visitors).
Hardware and software servers
Hardware servers – the benefits of domestic hosting
Servers can be hardware or software. A hardware server is a physical machine – a computer – on which website data is stored. These machines are located in data centres protected by strict security measures, which can be deployed anywhere in the world. For faster delivery of content, it is desirable that your data is stored on a server that is close to your target group (in Serbia if you serve the domestic market). Hosting not located in the country affects latency – website loading time is often extended from a few milliseconds to half a second for simpler pages, which frustrates modern users. Because of that, but also because of more advanced customer support, companies whose business is based online can achieve great benefits by choosing a domestic web hosting provider.
What are software servers?
Software servers are software programs that run in the background using Microsoft Windows or Linux operating systems. For example, an HTTP server is “in charge” of sending files to visitors because it understands the URLs and HTTP protocols that the browser uses to browse pages and deliver content.
How to choose a hosting provider?
When choosing a provider, it is important to consider the different hosting services offered. A couple of things to keep in mind when deciding where to host your website:
- What is the function of your website? Is it e-commerce? Media platform? Blog?
- How much bandwidth do you need for optimal website operation?
- Do you have the technical capacity to independently manage the hosting solution?
- If you plan to sell products or services online, server security is a priority and is guaranteed by SSL certificates.
- If the location of the data centres is important to you, check the location of the hosting provider’s servers.
Additionally, in order to recover in case of unforeseen events, it is very useful for companies to choose a web host provider that offers regular backup. Those who have experienced website loss know best how important it is to prepare in advance for each scenario, such as damaged hard drives or natural disasters.
Types of web hosting and key differences
Traditional web hosting means that all your data is stored on one server. This type of hosting is most often divided into three categories according to the environment:
1. Shared hosting
As the most cost-effective option, shared hosting is also the most popular type of hosting intended for mass use. Shared hosting providers host a large number of users (“tenants”) on one server whose resources are shared among users.
- Main advantage: cost-effectiveness – the price of shared hosting is on average from 2.5 to 15 dollars per month.
- Main disadvantage: This type of hosting does not guarantee high availability, and is not suitable for companies that cannot allow their website to be inaccessible for hours or days.
2. Dedicated hosting
Unlike shared hosting, with a dedicated model you get an entire server for your website.
- Main advantage: Unlike shared hosting, with a dedicated model you get an entire server for your website.
- Main disadvantage: Renting a dedicated server requires more investment, but also advanced maintenance knowledge.
3. VPS hosting
VPS hosting is a shared hosting environment in which you get guaranteed (dedicated) resources.
- Main advantage: Functionality – VPS hosting allows easy navigation with a number of intuitive tools.
- Main disadvantage: Challenges in managing and adjustment with the sudden increase in traffic, as resources are mostly allocated on the basis of minimum requirements.
Cloud hosting uses the power of multiple machines, thus eliminating “single-point of failure” and downtime.
- Main advantage: Reliability and scalability – the possibility of dynamic provisioning of resources at any time.
- Main disadvantage: Dependence on internet connection.
When is cloud hosting a good solution?
Cloud hosting is an effective alternative for companies that have outgrown or expect to outgrow the current capabilities of their hosting environment, and are looking for a way to provide new on-demand resources to meet the dynamic traffic peaks. Some of the most common scenarios for cloud hosting are:
- Companies whose business requires unlimited scalability of resources to maintain constant availability, such as e-commerce websites, media portals and streaming service providers.
- Businesses that plan to expand their business operations and expand their online customer base.
- All companies that have seasonal needs to increase resources in the hosting environment.
Managed cloud hosting: expert management support
Managed cloud hosting solutions include expertly designed systems that are tailored to the specific needs of the company. Also, with these solutions you get support for all aspects of resource and infrastructure management, system and software administration, security checks and server monitoring.
The cost-effectiveness of managed hosting depends on the nature of your business – these services are not intended for organizations that host micro and small websites. On the other hand, for companies for which HA is a priority, managed hosting guarantees high availability. In doing so, it is a service that eliminates all worries about the management, security and operation of the website, and allows a greater focus on the development of core business.
Managed hosting experience: examples
Over time, many companies have decided to move from traditional to managed hosting to meet growing business requirements and provide a seamless user experience.
Examples from practice can help you get an idea of the benefits of this type of hosting while considering choosing the ideal solution.
In order to modernize the infrastructure, overloaded due to the use of a large number of services on one server, Tehnomanija has initiated the implementation of a new hosting solution on the cloud.
In order to improve the infrastructure, a high-performance system was created on the Mainstream Managed Hosting platform, with a 99.9% availability guarantee. The system is designed to eliminate the “single point of failure”, providing Tehnomanija with the assurance that there will be no long-term downtime in the e-commerce store that would affect employees and customers. Among other things, managed hosting was chosen because of the support element – Tehnomanija can focus on business development while Mainstream experts take care of technology.
By switching to Mainstream managed hosting, the retail chain Gigatron has laid the foundations for maintaining the stability of web services and synchronization with the rest of the IT system.
Resources in the private cloud provided the necessary reliability, but also scalability – the new solution proved to be effective during the dynamic growth of traffic during the Black Friday promotional sales.
Looking for the best hosting solution for your website or online store? Together we will find the optimal option.