Every business needs to have a website up and running. This could be to make sales directly, share information with customers, boost marketing, or many other things. In addition, millions of individuals are creating their websites for various reasons.
If you’re thinking about building a website, you must consider what servers it runs on. While it’s possible to run a website on your computer or web server, most sites run on those managed by a third-party hosting company.
- What third-party hosting is
- How third-party hosting works
- What types of third-party hosting are available
- What type of hosting you need
What Is Third-party Hosting?
Third-party hosting is when a website for an individual or company is run off of servers owned and managed by another business. The alternative is to have your website hosted on your servers in your own data center.
Running web servers requires quality hardware, extremely fast and reliable internet connectivity, and the ability to act quickly should any hardware go down. Because of this, most sites are operated through third-party hosting providers.
How third-party hosting works
Third-party hosting is a fairly simple concept. The hosting company sets up its servers and sells the services to customers. If you decide to host your website on their servers, you will be given access to an environment they’ll set up on one of their servers.
You can then upload the files and other things for your website onto their servers. Next, you update your domain name’s nameservers to direct traffic to the hosting company, and visitors can access it from anywhere in the world.
Advantages of third-party hosting
- Experts run it: The biggest benefit to using a company that specializes in web hosting is that your site is on servers built, configured, and maintained by experts. This helps to reduce the risk of downtime dramatically.
- Far more affordable: Compared to buying your servers, building out a data center, provisioning data circuits, and handling everything else on your own, third-party hosting is budget-friendly.
- Easy to upgrade: If your site gets popular and you need to upgrade, the hosting company can do it quickly and with no downtime. But if you’re self-hosting, you must purchase all new hardware and plan the upgrade.
- Worry-free: When you put your website up on a third-party hosting provider’s equipment, you don’t need to worry about anything. The company manages the environment so you can focus on other things. Top hosting providers also monitor the sites closely so they can react fast should something break.
Disadvantages of third-party hosting
- You’re giving up some control: If you self-host, you have absolute control over every aspect of the hosting environment, which some people prefer.
- Reduced transparency: While there are many great, trustworthy web hosting companies, a third party can’t be as transparent with how things are done as you can be when doing things internally.
- Potential content restrictions: Some web hosting companies have restrictions on the type of content you can publish — this may prevent you from posting adult content, certain political content, and more. Third-party hosting companies are generally upfront about any restrictions, though, so it’s not difficult to find one that allows what you want on your site.
What Types of Third-party Hosting Are Available?
One of the best things about third-party hosting services is the different service levels you can choose from based on your specific needs. In addition, if your site grows or changes, you can always upgrade or downgrade to a different level of service to match your current requirements. This would be very difficult and costly when hosting your site on servers that you own:
- Shared hosting: This entails dozens, or even hundreds, of smaller websites set up on a single physical server. They share the server’s resources, which keeps the costs down. Shared hosting is the most affordable option and is ideal for sites that don’t get a huge amount of traffic.
- Virtual private server (VPS) hosting: This type of hosting also has multiple websites on one physical server, though typically far fewer than a shared server. The big difference, however, is that the various sites don’t share the server’s resources. Instead, each account on the server is placed in its own virtual environment and exclusively uses a set amount of system resources.
- Dedicated servers: Only one customer uses a full physical server or multiple servers. This option is used for larger sites that get a lot of traffic.
- Cloud hosting: This technology spreads each site across multiple physical servers configured to operate as one large server. Cloud hosting can operate one cloud server ― made up of many physical servers ― as a shared, VPS, or dedicated server environment.
Content delivery networks
In addition to these main types of hosting, be aware of content delivery networks (CDNs). A CDN is a service that hosts files for websites on geographically distributed servers so visitors can access them quickly, no matter where they are. The whole site typically isn’t housed on a CDN but only in large files or applications that require the fastest response times.
A related strategy is to host certain types of files, such as videos, on a major platform like YouTube and embed the video into your page. Your hosting server won’t be bogged down with the massive files, but you’ll still get great videos on your page. You can have key aspects of your website on a CDN whether you’re using a third-party hosting company or hosting it within your facility.
Which Type of Third-party Hosting Do You Need for Your Website?
If you decide to move forward with third-party hosting for your website, you need to decide which type of hosting you want and from which company. Almost all small businesses and individuals want to use shared hosting services. But if you know you’ll be getting a lot of traffic on your site, it may make sense to move up to a VPS or even a dedicated server.
However, even a basic shared hosting account that costs just a few dollars per month can easily run most websites. They can even serve traffic to thousands of visitors daily without any trouble. If you aren’t sure which one you need, the chances are excellent that shared hosting is going to be the best place to start.
How Do You Choose the Right Third-party Hosting Solution for You?
Third-party hosting companies are the best option for just about everyone who needs a website. That being said, there are many different types of hosting available and thousands of different hosting companies from which to choose.
While you can always migrate your site to a new hosting provider if needed, it’s much easier to research and choose the best hosting company available from the beginning.