Some things you should know about Web Servers

 Your website needs a home too...

What is a Web Server?

The business of web hosting is all about providing a way for your website to be made available to be viewed and used by others via web browsers. It does this by loading the contents from a storage drive and sending it across the World Wide Web. If there is no web server to host a website, then the site will simply not be available through the internet.

Basically, there are 3 types of web-hosting servers which you can invest in. Depending on what your website requirements are, you can either choose to use a:

1. Shared Server

Your website will share the hardware, software, and resources of the web server with other websites. This is best suited to sites that don't require all the resources of the server to be focused on it.

2. Virtual Private Server (VPS)

A good affordable choice for small to medium sized businesses. This type of server works by sectioning off part of a server for one particular website. The user cannot see past this partitioning, which makes it seems like they are on a single dedicated server, with allocated resources available to them.

3. Dedicated server

These house your files and information on dedicated hardware. No one else stores their sites on this server in any capacity. Because they are a more expensive option they are usually better suited to large companies or corporations that need to be able to store and move around large amounts of sensitive data.

Knowing this is well and good, but which type do you choose, and what variables do you need to consider?

Shared Servers vs VPS - outweighing the pros and cons

Chances are most people reading this article don't have lots of money to spend on a dedicated server, and probably don't need to utilise it. So that brings your choices down to: A shared server, or a Virtual Private Server. Before you considered which is more appropriate to host a website on, there are some fundamental pros and cons that need to be outweighed:

Shared Servers: Virtual Private Server (VPS)
Cheaper in price.
Hosting administration takes care of server maintenance, like important updates.
Slower connection speed due to limited resources, as they are shared with others.
Lower resources also means more downtime. This could be damaging to your business.
No individual control over what you can install on your site (All sites would share the same set of tools and software).
No access to web designers/developers.
Lack of security.
Support is very minimal, and not all hosting providers will give you on-the-spot technical support. It is likely you will have to wait for them to respond to an online ticket.
Shared hosting collects your business data that are captured through your sites online forms.
More cost effective than a fully dedicated hosting plan.
Customisable plans that meet your needs so you only pay for what you want/need.
You do not have to pay for excessive resources you have not yet grown into yet, you can start off with the minimum resources.
You have a lot more control than with shared hosting. You will likely have root access and the ability to use things you may not be able to with a shared server.
Files are secured and easily backed-up.
You can choose for your web-hosting provider to completely manage your site or semi-manage.
Some hosting providers may not allocate resources efficiently.

Location, location, location...What happens if your web-servers are located overseas?

This issue may not even cross your mind, but when choosing web-hosting services, keeping in mind where they are located is paramount to the performance of your website because:

The further the information has to travel from the server to the location of your online target market the worse off you will be. It is better to consider servers that are closer to ensure that your website performance and your prospects online experience is not hindered.
Some overseas companies may offer cheaper hosting, but this is likely to be because they are cutting back on labour costs and 24 hour support.
Customer service standards and protocols vary from country to country, particularly if you’re dealing with different time zones, making it difficult for you to solve issues with your website promptly.

There are so many web-hosting providers in today's technological society, that it can be tricky for an everyday website owner to be confident that they have not chosen a server that gives them unnecessary features they will never use; or not enough of the features that they really need, both could result in losing money. So make sure you educate yourself as much as possible first.