Virtual or Dedicated Web Hosting?

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At nearly all webhosting companies websites now a days, you will see the two terms “Virtual Hosting” and “Dedicated Hosting”. What is the difference between these? Well its fairly simple.

On a Virtual Server you have your website placed on a computer (The webserver), that has other websites on it – anywhere up to 350 or more. This has a number of down sides, such as being slower, less secure, as well as giving you less access to edit things on the server, such as installing & updating the system software. One the plus side however, it is much cheaper then going for a dedicated server, as well as being easier to administer.

On a Dedicated Server, you have the entire machine to yourself. This is fast, secure and you have full control. You can install any program your heart desires and update programs as often as you wish. This is a good choice for sites that get a lot of visitors, use a lot of system resources (through the use of CGI scripts), if you are holding very important data, or if you need special software that is not available on virtual servers. Unfortunatly, for a decent dedicated server, prices start at about $300 a month – you can get them cheaper if you shop around.

To sum it up, you need a dedicated server if ::

Your site gets so many hits your Virtual Server account cannot handle it. 
You want to host many sites on the one server. 
You need a feature that is not offered on a Virtual Server. 
You require a high level of security.

Web hosting is often provided as part of a general Internet access plan; there are many free and paid providers offering these services. The free services generally have restrictions on how the space can be used, including but not limited to: advertising, bandwidth restrictions, and programs that can be used to edit sites.

Businesses are generally restricted to using a paid Web host to host their site on. Paid Web hosts usually provide many more features, including 24/7 support and personalized assistance. Sites hosted on paid Web hosts also tend to load more quickly since each server hosts fewer sites, giving each site a larger proportion of resources.

A customer also needs to evaluate the requirements of the application. Such considerations include database server software, scripting software, and operating system. Active Server Pages (ASP) web sites usually require a Microsoft Windows based server platform. Most hosting providers provide Linux-based web hosting which offers a wide range of different software. A typical configuration for a Linux server is the LAMP Platform. This includes Linux, Apache, MySQL, and PHP (or Python, Perl or Ruby). Usually there is limited interoperability between the two, although Linux servers can integrate with Windows file services through Samba, and many Linux hosts provide support for Microsoft FrontPage server extensions.

Regardless of whether one is a business or has a personal site that needs to be hosted, it has to be created first. HTML experience is usually required to create a site (and more advanced languages can be used for interactive content, such as ASP or those languages used in a LAMP setup), but those without design experience can hire a Web designer to do the heavy lifting. Once the site is online there’s not much else that’s required: the host generally handles the technical behind-the-scenes work with the server.

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