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For startups and businesses small to large, a web hosting service is one of the choices that must be decided upon. There are a plethora of options, terms, conditions and technicalities to consider. That’s why we at dLook felt the need to write an article to explain these terms and guide you into the right decision based on your specific business needs.

This article considers the environment of the hosting industry in the present and future. It is one in which traditional web hosting is being challenged by cloud hosting. And the cloud hosting industry is being dominated by Amazon Web Services (AWS). Although alternatives from the other major web companies have emerged.

Web Hosting Options and Decisions—A Simplified Diagram

The web hosting options to choose from can be displayed in a tree diagram. This diagram can give you a quick overview of the options and which decisions you will make at each juncture of the tree.

(But it doesn’t include self-hosting because this has numerous disadvantages that make it not a serious post-90s option)

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Now we need to explain what all this means . . .

The broadest decision to make is between:

Traditional Hosting Versus Cloud Hosting.

Traditional hosting is where you loan a server or part of a server from a web hosting company for a fixed monthly cost.

A server in this case is a computer which provides functionality to your computer. It serves you by providing you with computational capacity and memory.

This server resides in a *data center* which the web host either owns or loans.

A data center is a large group of computers in a warehouse somewhere.

Cloud hosting is where you loan a variable amount of computational and storage capacity at a variable cost from a *cloud server*.

A Cloud Server is a group of multiple connected servers that aren’t neccesarily located in the same geographic location. Hence you don’t loan whole or fractions of fixed servers, but you loan the combined efforts of multiple and variable servers.

Which is better? Traditional hosting or Cloud hosting?

Traditional hosting and cloud hosting are both in different cases cheaper, more reliable and safer than each other. The per-usage, per-hosting service analysis below goes into these specific cases. One thing that doesn’t differ however is that cloud hosting has more scalability but it also presents higher security risks.

Cloud Hosting Security Risks

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This is an issue that needs to be addressed because it is an anxiety for many business-owners who are thinking about adopting this new technology.

The security disadvantages for cloud hosting compared to traditional hosting are:

  • The service provider (the cloud hosting company) can access all your data. This is a major hole open to hackers, misuse of your data and to error involving your data. There are cases of data accidentally being deleted from cloud servers.
  • The software to operate the server is not on-premise in a physical location (that would need to be physically infiltrated to be hacked), it is on the web. Hence it can be hacked through the web.

Shared Hosting, Virtual Private Server (VPS) Hosting and Dedicated Hosting

Traditional hosting options include:

Shared hosting: you loan a part of a computer and share it with others. The computational power and storage are shared so sometimes another user’s usage can impinge on yours. Also, you have rather restricted privileges as a measure to prevent you from abusing this sharing situation. So email and FTP functionalities will be supported, but probably not hosting applications.

Virtual private server (VPS) hosting: you loan a part of a computer and share it with others. But, you share it with less others. Also, you own a portion of the computing power and memory that can’t be impinged on by others. Also, there are less restrictions as to what you can do in your own VPS.

Dedicated hosting: you loan a whole computer. There are no shared resources and maximum privileges.

Which is better?

From cheapest to most expensive, the hosting options were in that order: shared hosting, VPS and dedicated hosting.

But this order is also for the least to most reliability, security and user privileges: shared hosting, VPS and dedicated hosting.

Standard/Dedicated Amazon EC2

There are many types of cloud hosting, but two key ones that we will be addressing are:

Standard Amazon EC2: it’s basically VPS hosting but of multiple machines within ‘the cloud’.
Dedicated Amazon EC2: the same as the Standard EC2 package but entire machines within the cloud are loaned. They are never shared.

Which is better?

Dedicated hosting is obviously more expensive, but has the benefits of increased reliability, security and user privileges.

Hosting Companies Compared—Which Web Hosting Package Should I Chose?

Now that you know the fundamentals of web hosting, it’s time to start looking at the actual options you have available to you. We will be comparing the AWS to its cloud hosting alternatives and also against traditional hosting options. This is a great start to finding the right hosting choice for your business.

Amazon Web Services (AWS)

Let’s start with the big one. AWS. The company that’s seemingly taking over the hosting industry. Its market share is growing rapidly. Is there a good reason for this?

AWS uses the latest cloud computing technologies and there are some considerable advantages to this:

  • Scalability: you can use as much or as little processing power and RAM as you want. You will be charged based on how much you use.
  • No redundancy: you don’t pay for anything that you don’t use.
  • Less planning required: you don’t have to estimate your future usage in order to determine how much you should buy.

But the AWS has two considerably disadvantages to be aware of:

  • Security (as with all cloud computing, as aforementioned).
  • Cost.

For medium-large hosting projects, AWS will cost multiple times what traditional hosting services would cost.

But, for small-medium hosting projects, the scalability of AWS may actually make it cheaper. The best analogy is phone plans. For low-moderate phone users, pay-as-you-go can cost less because you don’t pay for a lot of stuff you don’t need. But for moderate-high users, a phone plan is much cheaper.

Cloud Hosting Alternatives

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The major cloud hosting alternatives to AWS are Google Cloud Platform, Microsoft Azure and SoftLayer. There are numerous features, prices and packages of each platform that makes comparing them highly complex. But Right Scale Cloud Comparison can help.

A summation of the Cloud Comparison data is:

  • AWS has the most features.
  • Google Cloud Platform and Azure have the most granular pricing strategies. Users are billed per minute as opposed to AWS which is per hour.
  • Google Cloud Platform has the most pricing discounts.
  • SoftLayer has the best reliability (uptime).

Traditional Hosting Options

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If you decide to opt against cloud hosting, here are some traditional hosting companies that are major choices for Australians.

(Much of this data was collected from the SiteGeek database).

Crazy Domains

Crazy Domains is an adequate option, but is to be honest amongst the worst choices in this list.

It’s prices are fairly average. They start at $3.99/month for shared hosting. And for this they provide a very substantial 150gb of storage.

It’s uptime (the percentage of time that its servers are online) is only 98% which is mediocre. Therefore 2% of the time it’s servers aren’t online and people can’t access their data and visit these hosted websites.

Consumer reviews for Crazy Domains are extremely poor. It is the only company out of the ones listed where a Google search for ‘{Company name} reviews’ yielded a Facebook page created by disgruntled customers: Crazy Domains FAIL.

GoDaddy

GoDaddy is potentially the cheapest option on this list, with hosting starting at just $1.00/month for shared hosting. And for this you get 100gb of storage and unlimited bandwidth.

It has an impressive uptime of 99.97%.

Consumer reviews of GoDaddy are surprisingly positive for a hosting company (it is one of those industries where a big company has close relationships with individuals and the results aren’t always pretty). But GoDaddy users seem overall pleased.

Melbourne IT

Melbourne IT is an Australian-based company unlike the other options.

It has an uptime of 100% according to SitePoint, indicating that downtime is very rare.

Like with many Australian products and services, Melbourne IT is somewhat more expensive than the other options. It’s plans start from $12.94/month for shared hosting. And for this you get only 10gb of bandwidth and 5gb of disk space.

Customer reviews are average. And for the hosting industry, the average is quite low.

Bluehost

Bluehost is in our opinion the best option on this list. And it’s on this list because we believe it to be the best option outright. It has the cheapest price of just $3.48/month for shared hosting. And for this price you get unlimited bandwidth and 100gb of storage.

It’s reliability is extremely high—listed as 100% on SitePoint.

And a Google search of ‘Bluehost review yields a first page of all 3.5+ ratings. This is remarkably high for a hosting company.

What Host Does dLook Use? Anchor Cloud Hosting

dLook uses a somewhat niche Australian host called Anchor Cloud Hosting. It offers an incredibly high value deal of $25/month for shared hosting with unlimited data transfer, storage and databases.

Hence Anchor is also a recommendable option.

So What Is The Best Hosting Service For My Business?

This is a question with not one answer, but with multiple factors to consider in reaching a decision. In this article, we focussed on the most important factors to break it down. To highlight these, here they are again:

  • Cloud computing has scalability as an advantage but security as a disadvantage.
  • For low-medium usage, AWS may be cheaper, but for medium-high usage it may be much more expensive.
  • Alternatives to AWS do exist and they do surpass it in some areas.
  • Traditional hosting is the best alternative to cloud hosting. And there are numerous options within it.
  • Potentially the best traditional hosting company is Bluehost, but Anchor Cloud Hosting is also very favourable.

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