What are the types of web hosting services? And which type would your website require? This article discusses the 5 main types of web hosting services.
If you're looking to make a WordPress website, you're going to need website hosting.
Once you start researching your options, you'll quickly discover that there are different types of hosting, each with different prices, performance, features, and technical complexities.
If you want to make the right decision for your website, it's important to know what each hosting type is, along with its associated pros and cons.
That's what this post is for. We'll start with a general explanation of what website hosting is. Then, we'll break down the most popular types of hosting and help you understand which one is right for your website.
What is Website Hosting?
Website hosting is the hardware that powers your website and makes it available to visitors around the world.
In other words, it's where you store your website's files and content and it's also what serves those files to visitors when they access your site (by typing in your site's domain name).
Every single website has some type of web hosting behind it, whether it's a big website like YouTube or your friend's knitting blog.
When you purchase web hosting, you're essentially renting space on a computer. This could be part of a computer that you share with other people, an entire computer, or even space on a network of computers (AKA “the cloud”).
Once you have your website hosting, you can start putting it to use.
Just like you can install the software (e.g. apps) on your personal computer, you can also install software on your web hosting.
For example, if you want to make a WordPress website, you would first need web hosting (the hardware). Then, you can install WordPress (the software) on your web hosting. And voila — you have the basic foundations of a website that's accessible to people anywhere in the world.
All you need to do is add a tool like Elementor and you're ready to start designing.
Different websites will have different hosting needs when it comes to the resources that are needed to power the website.
A high-traffic, high-resource website will need hosting with a lot of power to handle the workload, while a low-traffic site will be fine with less power.
In general, more powerful hosting will cost more money. You wouldn't expect a cheap $300 laptop to perform as well as a $10,000 top-of-the-line computer, and it's the same for web hosting.
5 Types of Web Hosting Services
Now that you know what web hosting is, let's go through the five main types of website hosting.
All of these hosting types are fully capable of powering WordPress sites. However, some may be more suited to your WordPress site's unique situation than others.
Shared hosting is where many people start their hosting journey because it's one of the most affordable ways to host a website.
With shared hosting, your site/account will share resources with other accounts and websites on the hosting server — hence the name.
By sharing resources like this, hosting providers are able to keep their costs down and offer rock-bottom prices.
That's really the only benefit of shared hosting — it's cheap. Shared hosts also typically advertise high-resource limits such as “unlimited websites”, “unlimited storage”, and/or “unlimited bandwidth”.
Unfortunately, there's no such thing as truly “unlimited” hosting and every shared host will still apply a “fair use” policy. But still, shared hosting can be a very affordable way to host multiple websites because of this. For instance, we host most of our client sites at SiteGround, and they have proven to be amazing, they use inode quotas to limit how many files you can have on your shared hosting account, and the service is disrupted if you exceed your allocated inode quota.
While the low prices of shared hosting are attractive, there can be some very real downsides when it comes to performance, reliability, and security. For example, if the other accounts that you're sharing resources with are consuming a lot of resources, that could have a negative effect on your site's performance because there aren't enough resources to go around.
For this reason, many people move beyond shared hosting once their websites start growing, as other types of hosting can offer major upgrades in key areas like performance and reliability.
VPS Hosting is a lot like cloud hosting. The main difference is that your site gets its dedicated resources from a single physical server, rather than “the cloud”. While you don't get the whole server to yourself, the resources that are allocated to your site are 100% your own (unlike shared hosting).
While traditional VPS hosting used to be quite popular, it's kind of taken a back seat now that cloud hosting has grown.
Most people will be better off with the cloud hosting approach because it offers more flexible scalability. That is, it's easier to add more resources to your server if needed (or reduce resources).
Despite that, you still will see a good number of hosting providers advertising VPS hosting, so it's worth knowing about this type of hosting.
With cloud hosting, your website gets its own dedicated resources on a huge network of computers called “the cloud”.
That's one of the key differences between cloud hosting and shared hosting — instead of sharing resources, you get resources that are 100% dedicated to your site. This generally leads to improved performance because you don't have to worry about someone else's websites affecting your site.
Cloud hosting also offers excellent reliability because there's a network of computers powering everything, rather than a single point of failure.
It's also easy to upgrade or downgrade your hosting resources because all the hosting provider needs to do is allocate your account more (or fewer) resources on the network.
Because of this, cloud hosting is one of the fastest-growing types of hosting. For example, you might've heard names such as Google Cloud Platform, AWS (Amazon Web Services), Microsoft Azure, DigitalOcean, etc. Those are all examples of cloud hosting providers.
Within cloud hosting (and many other types of hosting), you can further break the hosting down into two categories:
- Managed – the hosting provider will configure and maintain the basic server details for you.
- Unmanaged – you'll be responsible for configuring and maintaining your server.
All things equal, unmanaged hosting will cost less than managed hosting because the host is offering extra services with the managed option (and those extra services cost more money).
In general, non-technical users will almost always want a managed solution. However, developers might prefer unmanaged hosting for added flexibility and/or cost savings.
Managed WordPress Hosting
Managed WordPress hosting is a special type of hosting that's unique to the WordPress space.
You can host a WordPress site on all the other hosting methods, so this is definitely not the only way to host a WordPress site. However, unlike the other hosting types, managed WordPress hosting can only host WordPress sites, which can be limiting in some situations. For example, you couldn't install your own self-hosted analytics tool (e.g. Matomo) to go along with your WordPress site.
It can use different types of hosting environments such as shared hosting, cloud hosting, and so on. In this way, managed WordPress hosting also isn't entirely separate from the other types of hosting.
The key thing that differentiates it from “regular” hosting is a suite of concierge services that are added specifically for WordPress sites.
Typically, this includes the following types of services:
- Automatic daily backups, with the option to manually back up your site if needed.
- WordPress staging sites.
- Automatic WordPress updates.
- WordPress-specific performance optimizations, such as page caching and maybe a content delivery network (CDN).
- WordPress-specific security rules.
- Expert WordPress support.
The main benefit of managed WordPress hosting is convenience. You're getting more than just web hosting, and those other services can save you time when it comes to maintaining your site.
The main downside, however, is the price. Assuming you're talking about plans with identical resources, managed WordPress hosting will always be more expensive because you need to pay for those extra services somehow.
This means that managed WordPress hosting can be a good option for people who are willing to pay a bit of a premium for convenience and extra features.
Colocation hosting is an advanced type of hosting that's really only used by large businesses.
With colocation hosting, you physically own the hosting hardware. That is, you'll actually purchase the hosting servers that you want to use. However, you rent space in another company's data centre to have that company power and maintain that hardware for you.
Basically, you get to keep using your own infrastructure but you eliminate the need to have your own physical space for that infrastructure (along with all of the associated costs such as electricity and air conditioning).
Again, this is not something a WordPress user will ever need, but it is a type of hosting that you might see, so it's helpful to know this term.
Elementor Cloud Website
As you can see, there's a good deal of complexity when it comes to the different types of hosting.
If you don't want to deal with choosing between all of these options and you'd rather just focus on building and growing your website, you might prefer to use Elementor Cloud Website.
Elementor Cloud Website takes the headache out of choosing hosting infrastructure by giving you a complete platform to build a website using WordPress and Elementor. Instead of messing around with technical details, all you do is sign up and start building your site using the pre-installed tools.
Elementor Cloud Website also offers more transparent pricing by removing some of the hidden hosting costs that you'll experience with other types of hosting.
For a flat $99 per year, you'll get an all-in-one WordPress hosting solution that includes the following:
- Built-in hosting from Google Cloud Platform
- Secure CDN by Cloudflare
- Free SSL certificate from Cloudflare
- 20 GB storage
- 100 GB bandwidth
- 100K monthly visits
- Free custom domain connection
- Free subdomain elementor.cloud
- Automatic daily backups
- Manual backups from My Elementor account
You'll also get access to Elementor Pro features at no extra cost, which lets you hit the ground running from day one.
If you want to make a website, you need website hosting. However, there are different types of hosting that you can choose from, so it's important to understand your options, along with the pros and cons of each type of hosting.
For example, some hosting types focus on keeping costs low at the expense of performance, while others focus on offering maximum performance and flexibility (but often at the expense of higher costs or added complexity).
If you're looking for a simpler alternative for creating a WordPress site, you can consider Elementor Cloud Website, which offers built-in hosting from Google Cloud Platform.
Instead of worrying about technical details and which type of hosting is best, you can focus on building websites right away using Elementor's all-in-one platform.
Do you still have any questions about the different types of hosting and which one is right for your website(s)? Let us know in the comments!