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Virtual vs Dedicated Hosting: Which Type Do You Need?

Aug 17, 2007
Many site owners believe that the next logical step after outgrowing a shared hosting solution is to invest in their own dedicated server. This is a possible solution, and is necessary for many particularly large or complex sites. However, for small to medium size websites, a virtual web hosting solution may prove to be the ideal solution.

Virtual Hosting
Less expensive than a dedicated server, virtual hosting is an excellent and relatively inexpensive solution for those who own websites that are too large for a shared hosting solution, but don't really need their own dedicated server. It is fine to have a smaller site on its own dedicated server, but it is expensive to do so. Virtual web hosting provides more flexibility than shared web hosting, and provides many of the advantages associated with a dedicated server without the expense.

The expense associated with owning and operating a dedicated server can be several hundred dollars each month. Virtual hosting solutions, on the other hand, tend to cost between $35 to $100 per month, depending on the resources needed by your particular site. Pricing for virtual hosting is a function of the amount of disk space required to adequately host your site, the quantity of bandwidth allocated to you, and the number of domain names provided to you as part of your agreement.

With virtual hosting, you will subscribe to the services of a web hosting company. The hosting company likely owns several dedicated servers, and they lease space on their servers to owners small and medium sized websites that do not need the full capacity of their own server. When you use a virtual hosting solution, your site will be placed on a server alongside other small to medium sized website with similar server resource requirements.

Security is an overriding concern when it comes to selecting a web hosting provider. Of course, there is no completely foolproof security system, and even the most secure site can experience security breeches that can put your site at risk. Being exposed to potential virus and hacker attacks is, unfortunately, an inherent aspect of doing business on the Internet.

With that said, it is vital to verify that the web hosting company you select does have a solid security system in place and that the company is committed to ongoing mitigation of risk when it comes to security. Another important consideration when selecting a virtual web hosting solution is to verify that there is sufficient bandwidth for both your site and the others located on the shared server.

The last thing you need is for your customers and prospective customers to experience delays with pages loaded on your site because the other tenants on your virtual server are using all of the bandwidth. It is also important to find out whether or not the virtual host allows non-public directories to be accessed. If your site holds sensitive data that should not be accessible to Internet surfers, make sure that you select a hosting company that does not allow non-public directories to be accessed.

Dedicated Hosting
When you use dedicated web hosting, you are the only site on your dedicated server. Dedicated hosting is necessary for large or particularly complex websites. Websites that need a lot of bandwidth to function effectively are good candidates for dedicated web hosting.

Other sites that need the benefits of dedicated hosting include many e-commerce websites, those with very high site visitors, and those for which security issues are an overriding concern. There are many benefits associated with dedicated hosting, with the only real drawback being the cost.

The size and complexity of your website may dictate that dedicated web hosting is the only viable option for your site. If you own a smaller site, it is a good idea to look at the benefits associated with dedicated hosting and compare them to the cost savings you will realize from going with a virtual web hosting option. Such a comparison will enable you to make a sound decision. If you decide that dedicated hosting is the best solution for you, the next step will be to decide if you need managed web hosting or unmanaged web hosting.

If you have a full staff of expert technical support professionals, unmanaged hosting may be your best option. Unmanaged hosting less expensive than managed hosting, but the savings are real only if you have someone on staff to handle the technical support requirements of the site. Managed web hosting solutions offer varying degrees of technical support services. With managed hosting, the web hosting company's technical support staff takes care of the routing maintenance and technical updates associated with keeping your site up and running.

When you select a dedicated hosting solution, you are not sharing space with other tenants. Your site enjoys all of the bandwidth and processing speed capabilities of your web server. Websites housed on dedicated servers typically run faster than those that operated on shared or virtual servers, although with smaller sites the speed improvement is not likely to be very noticeable.

With a dedicated server, you have more freedom in managing your website. With a dedicated server, there is no limit to the number of domain names you may operate. This is a great benefit for those who own or operate multiple websites, as they will be able to host all of their sites on the same dedicated server. You are also free to customize the server for your specific needs.

The server settings can be customized to meet the specific needs of your site, which will optimize your site's performance. There are also security benefits associated with using a dedicated server. Because dedicated servers can only be accessed by the owner of the site and the web hosting company, there is less risk of security breaches.
About the Author
Noah Mander invites you to www.webhostingshark.com, the top web hosting resource featuring a directory, consumer reviews, ratings, articles, host search, guides, interviews, news and much more to find your right web hosting plan.
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