Turning your website into a success will require much trial and error; for example, you’ll have to experiment with the way it looks and the type and presentation of content, and as there’s no right or wrongs this is simply a case of try it and see.
One aspect of website ownership that’s a little more black and white is web hosting, and in particular what type of hosting is most suitable to your current situation.
The starting point for the vast majority of website owners is a shared hosting plan. With a shared hosting plan, as the name implies, you share server space with other hosting customers. Essentially, you pay for a share of the server resources such as bandwidth and disk space. A simple analogy would be purchasing a ticket on a plane; it gets you where you want to go, however aside from choosing your destination you don’t have much control over the journey and you share the space with other customers.
The major benefit to shared hosting is its affordability. Some providers, and you’ll have to judge their reputability for yourself, offer packages from as little as $1 per month. So if your website is small and doesn’t get much traffic this is a very affordable way to get online.
The major downside to shared hosting is that the performance of your website can be influenced by the actions of the other customers sharing your server. For example, if they receive a lot of traffic or engage in resource heavy tasks then your website performance will suffer as a result.
Not only that, the ridiculously cheap prices offered by some providers, most notably resellers, creates a server state that is analogous to the tube at rush hour, completely over crowded and prone to breakages. Note: This isn’t a problem with providers offering a sustainable business model (charging appropriately for server space) as they have the money to reinvest in their infrastructure.
Going back to the transport analogies, if shared hosting is like buying a ticket on a plane then a dedicated server is like chartering your own private jet. When you purchase a dedicated server you have access to and complete control over the full extent of the server resources.
What’s more, your website can’t be affected by the actions of other users as there are none. This means you can expect a higher overall performance, vastly more resources at your disposal and increased reliability and security. In fact, the majority of server providers will go so far as to offer a percentage uptime guarantee or your money back.
Of course, this is all sounds massively advantageous, and it is, but if you don’t have much experience setting up and managing a server getting started can be quite a daunting prospect. Thankfully, you can purchased fully managed dedicated servers whereby the hosting company will set up and manage your server on your behalf.
Obviously, dedicated server hosting costs more than a simple shared hosting plan. However a website that would benefit from dedicated hosting will likely be large enough to make the extra investment in hosting infrastructure worthwhile.
If you’re not sure whether you could benefit from a move to dedicated hosting you should consider the answers to questions such as how many visitors does your website get? how big is your website? does your business involves the storage of information and how much? If the answers are ‘a lot’ and ‘yes’ as opposed to ‘not many’ and ‘no’ then a move towards dedicated hosting could be beneficial.
Once again, there’s no hard and fast rule but if you’re current hosting situation is no longer suitable then its worth thinking about.