How to Choose a Web Hosting Provider


Virtual Private Servers

Most webmasters on the net today are familiar with what the industry calls "shared" web hosting accounts. A shared hosting account is where you rent a small amount of space on a server which is shared among many other users.


This is a cheap way to get started online but it has many disadvantages - you will encounter email delivery problems because of complaints of spam against other sites on the same server. You will find your site's grinding to a halt when someone else does some heavy database work on the shared server on which your web site is also hosted. You might even find your site going down because of a denial of service attack against someone else hosting hacking or piracy related material on the shared server (these types of sites attract antisocial elements!)


How can you avoid all of this drama?


By upgrading to a virtual dedicated server or virtual private server. A virtual dedicated server lets you run your sites as if you had your own "dedicated" server, except it is cheaper because you are really just using part of a server that has been split into multiple virtual dedicated servers.


A virtual private server (VPS) is a physical server that has been split into several virtual machines by software. Each of these divisions acts as an autonomous dedicated server. The physical resources such as RAM, CPU and disk space are still shared, but each VPS acts independently of the others. Each VPS can even have a different operating system and can be configured any way you want. The central asset of VPS is that it lets each VPS administrator have access to the root level of his virtual server. This accessibility allows the web master to install and remove software, set permissions, and create accounts.


A VPS is more secure than shared hosting. If a hacker were to gain access to the root of a shared server, he could wreak havoc on any or all of the websites on that server. A VPS is sub-divided in such a way that even if a hacker were to obtain entry through one account, he could not get to the others. Each VPS is invisible to the others and there is no way to set up root level access from one VPS to another.


If you don't have the skills necessary to administer a server, or are not able to get assistance, VPS is not a wise choice for you. If your website has grown beyond the capabilities of shared hosting, then, VPS may offer an affordable option to dedicated hosting.


You can find out more about this by searching Google for "virtual dedicated hosting". Virtuozzo is the main commercial software that web hosts use to run virtual hosting services.


You will find virtual dedicated server accounts starting at just $30 a month. You'll get a much larger chunk of bandwidth compared to shared hosting, and none of the problems that go with a shared host. You can also get multiple IP addresses that are exclusive to your sites.


So, what's the catch? Not much. You'll probably spend a bit more on hosting each month. The main disadvantage of upgrading to virtual dedicated hosting is that you will need to be more technically proficient so that you can administer the server.


This requires a bit of time learning the necessary Linux skills to make sure your server runs smoothly.


Many hosting providers will have a "premium" support offering that includes a bit more hand holding - this is definitely recommended if you don't have much experience with Linux, or are new to virtual dedicated hosting.


With the increased speed and bandwidth that a virtual dedicated host offers, and none of the shared hosting headaches, the move is one you will never regret. So, the question now becomes, are you ready and willing to take-on the challenge of virtual dedicated web hosting and save yourself some hard-earned cash? The choice is yours.