The cloud can be a strange concept for many. A network of interconnected, remotely located servers that can store, manage and process information through the internet. With the cloud now supporting software including word processors and external storage programs (think Google Workspace, Office 365 and Dropbox), alternatives to self hosting are now the preference for organisations across a variety of sectors.
To explore this, today’s Stopford blog looks into the strengths and weaknesses of existing web hosting options: Dedicated, Shared and Cloud Hosting.
What is it?
By choosing Dedicated Hosting, your site or service will be run exclusively within a server(s) without any outside organisations using the servers resources.
Decision-makers have access to all the resources within the server, ensuring that only your site is allocated the assets. This means users do not need to be concerned with resource sharing with other sites and the threat of not being able to cater for customers.
Improved security and control options are additional benefits of this server option too. Users will be able to access advanced options to configure and designate resources as they see fit, while the lack of server sharing will prevent any potential security risks incurred by other sites.
Depending on the server specification and the demands of hosting your site, this also means you can select an option that comfortably caters for your site(s) traffic and processes. This is perfect for sites that have a consistent and stable traffic.
Dedicated servers have a finite number of resources to allocate based on the server chosen, reducing its ability to scale to the task. This can be a disadvantage to sites that have highly fluctuating traffic as this may cause the necessary resources to be exceeded, causing the site to suffer performance issues or crash.
Another primary drawback of dedicated servers is that the process is not cost-effective. In the event that scaling up was necessary to meet traffic demands, this would require users to purchase an upgrade with more resources. This can be an expensive practice, with a new fixed amount of available resources, organisations will be charged for the plan regardless of if they only use a fraction of the new resources.
There’s also a level of expertise needed to manage your own dedicated server. Without the extra cost of a managed hosting service, users will need to be able to configure and solve technical issues themselves, which can be difficult for those just starting.
What is it?
Shared Hosting places your website within a server(s) among other companies, sharing the available space and resources.
Shared Hosting is the most cost-effective option for those who looking to host their first website or blog. Although users will be sharing the servers resources among multiple parties, for sites with lower traffic and performance demands this can be an easy way to start.
Sites within a shared server structure benefit from the convenience of having the site managed by professionals. There’s no need to be able to handle technical issues, server maintenance or administration, users can focus on their own tasks.
The drawbacks to Shared Hosting is within the structure. The users website shares the resources of the server with all other sites within the server. This can mean that if a site begins to require more resources due to traffic increase or otherwise, your site may suffer from performance issues due to the server allocating all the resources elsewhere. This can be problematic to those who reliant on the site for income. With fewer resources being available to sites through shared servers, sites also tend to load and perform slower than their other hosting counterparts.
Security concerns are another drawback of the service. Being part of a network of sites the server hosts, this leaves each site vulnerable to the threats other sites have incurred. The security of each site can rely on the safety measures of the sites within the network.
What is it?
Cloud Hosting uses multiple servers and shares the resources between them to run your site(s).
This hosting method is able to balance the workload across all the servers, offering stability to the site’s performance. In the event one server were to fail, the other servers within the cloud network would be able to continue hosting the site despite this loss. The workload would be spread across the remaining servers, reducing the stress on individuals, often resulting in fast loading times and performance.
This structure also ensures that the site is scalable. If traffic were to drop or rise dramatically, the servers adapt to only employ the resources they need to handle the task, adapting to prevent performance issues and crashes.
The pricing of this process is also appealing, enabling you to only pay for the amount you use. This can be significantly more cost effective than Dedicated and Shared options. Rather than paying for resources that the site is not using or upgrading their existing package entirely, the scalability of Cloud Hosting allows the site to adapt and charge accordingly.
As with all non-self hosted options, Cloud Hosting is an internet based service, and as such, power outages can mean that your website becomes unavailable. This can be a disadvantage for those who rely on their site to work uninterrupted. With access to your site dependent on internet access, ensuring you have a reliable service provider can minimise this issue.
This method is also subject to potential security concerns. Although Cloud Hosting providers have invested heavily in security measures and adhere to strict security standards, external threats can still try and challenge the service.