As web developers this is a question we get asked on a weekly basis by our web design clients and our domain/hosting clients.
With our own web design clients we will have already given them the correct type of hosting for the website we created but questions about hosting are usually triggered by cold calling hosting companies scare mongering people into thinking that their web hosting is not adequate and they are losing business.
First off... Companies who do this either by telephone or by sending multiple emails are in my opinion unethical companies or people using sneaky tactics to get you to change web hosting and give them business instead of your current hosting company and usually at a much inflated cost than the going rate.
We have lost a couple of hosting clients over the years to these unscrupulous salesmen. One web design client of ours was pestered to move and ended up signing for hosting package that she thought was an annual payment when in fact it was monthly and more that 10 times was she was paying us, another client moved and ended up losing their business due to constant server issues and downtime.
Remember hosting companies who use teams of commission driven salesmen to gain customers do not offer the best or even adequate hosting, if they did people would go to them anyway due to their prices, features and feedback.
If you're reading this article then you have probably been searching different hosting packages either for a new website or to move your current website either because your current hosting company is letting you down - lots of downtime, poor support, slow website - or you feel that you are simply being overcharged.
When having a new website created your developer should set you up with the correct type of hosting to run your website, that's assuming that they are in fact a professional developer and not a part time, have a go designer moonlighting on the weekends.
There are different options, the most popular is shared hosting where your website is located on a server with a few other sites. Shared hosting is adequate for most small to medium sized websites the only way it becomes a problem is if you have too many sites on one server, this doesn't happen with large we'll respected hosting companies such as Heartinternet, UKHost4U or Namesco who keep a modest amount of sites on each server so they don't overload it.
The other good thing about shared hosting is that the server is managed and maintained by the hosting company, sites are backed up and errors are fixed quickly with many professional hosting companies boasting 99.9% uptime.
Larger websites may need a dedicated server, this is where your website has exclusive use of a server and doesn't share it with any other websites. The cost of a dedicated server is a lot more expensive than shared hosting. You can also choose your storage space, memory, CPU speed and other features.
You'll notice I say larger websites and not larger companies as some large companies only have small brochure style websites that run perfectly on shared hosting. I would only recommend a dedicated server for a large website with lots of traffic, lots of traffic equates to 5,000 visitors a day or more.
An alternative to a dedicated server and less expensive is VPS hosting which stands for a virtual private server. With a virtual private server your hosting behavea like dedicated hosting but in reality you only have a partition on a server with its own IP
You'll notice many companies and salesmen throwing around the term 'Cloud Hosting' when in fact, unless your server is physically at your premises or office all hosting is 'Cloud Hosting' so don't get drawn in thinking your are moving from your current non cloud hosting to something better just because a salesman throws around this term.
The main reason people chose to go and look for a new hosting company is poor server performance, their site is always down or is very slow. Now this can be the server or it can simply be poor web design.
You'll remember me mentioning the amateur weekend web designers earlier! These are the part time amateur web designers designing websites for extra income, usually at the weekend or in the evenings, they are not professional web designers - if they where they would work in web design and not in a factory or in retail - so unfortunately you don't get a professional job.
These amateur web designers will use DIY website builders and software which produce poorly coded work and poorly coded website may still look ok on the surface to the amateur but the code can be very slow and clumsy.
A popular tool used by these amateurs is Wordpress, which again is very, very slow so you may not need new hosting at all, you may simply need a new website.
Another reason people move hosting companies is cost. They use their web design companies hosting and realise - after speaking to others or viewing pricing online - that they are being overcharge.
Hosting used to be a lot more expensive than it is today, if you want to check out the industry standard in website hosting then visit a couple of the links below.