There’s a whole host of different web hosting companies out there (pardon the pun). On top of that, each hosting company can offer a multitude of hosting variations, and platforms like Windows or Linux. It can get pretty confusing.

It’s great to have choices, it really is. With a little information on a few terms, you should be able to make a choice that’s right for you.

Windows vs Linux Hosting

When you take a look at hosting, you’ll probably see where you can choose between Windows or Linux. Without getting into too much of the gory details, I’ve built and maintained websites on both Linux and Windows servers. I’ve even done a lot of self-managed work on Windows. But, if you think you might like to try a content management system like WordPress, I recommend Linux.

What’s WordPress?

WordPress is one of the most widely used content management system (CMS). A CMS website combines the use of code and styling with a database. A CMS website is customizable and easily updatable. How easy? Let’s just say, for now, that if you can use Facebook, you’d most likely be able to update a website with WordPress. Really. If the thought of this is a wee bit appealing, then choose Linux. I’ve had clients that were on a Windows server and wanted a WordPress website. I accommodated them, for a while. Eventually, I moved everyone running WordPress on Windows to Linux. Linux just provides a more stable and secure environment for WordPress. WordPress gives clients with an easy way to update their own websites, and Linux offers them peace of mind in a more secure setting.

Now, for the fun stuff.

Let’s take a look at different types of web hosting plans

Shared Hosting

If you’re just looking to start a blog or create a small business informational site, then you’re looking at a fairly low cost to get started—like $3 to $20 monthly. The lower the price, the more limited the resources available. Many personal sites or entry-level small business websites do fine on shared hosting where there are many websites, sometimes up to 1,000 on one server. If you’re starting out with a small business site but are planning to sell products or expand, you may outgrow an entry-level plan rather quickly. When talking with a hosting representative or researching the plan that will work for you, make sure that you can easily upgrade your plan, if needed.

Major Benefit of Shared Web Hosting: Low-cost to get started.

WordPress Hosting

WordPress is my favorite platform for websites. Because of it’s popularity, some web hosting companies offer WordPress hosting. Some of my clients choose WordPress hosting, but it’s not my favorite way to go. Why? Because there’s often limited server management options with WordPress hosting. You can upgrade and backup WordPress, but often there’s limited access to files. Also, many companies say that WordPress Hosting will run faster. Having said that, I’ve not seen a big difference in page load speeds or experienced better performance.

Major Benefit of WordPress Hosting: Tailored to run WordPress.

Virtual Private Server

A virtual private server (VPS) is the next step after shared hosting. On a VPS, you can manage the server yourself which requires a fair bit of server experience or choose a managed plan where the server maintenance is handled by the hosting company.  You are still sharing some server resources like the central processing unit and the memory, but there are also resources that are dedicated to each account on the server. Often on a VPS, there are less accounts sharing resources than on a shared server. This all means that you have more power and more resources for your website. VPS hosting often has limits on storage and memory that you just need to be aware of.

Major Benefit of Virtual Private Servers: Increased resources allotted to accommodate your website’s needs at a reasonable cost.

Dedicated Server

A dedicated server dedicates all of the computer resources to your website based on the plan’s options. The dedicated server also offers different managed plans from self managed to fully managed. I’ve worked on self-managed Windows servers in the past and they’re great when they’re running, but when there are issues, it can take hours, or longer, to isolate the issues and troubleshoot. Also, I found that dedicated server upgrades can get expensive. But if your website is big, or outgrows other hosting options, this is the way to go. More good news is that dedicated server prices have come down in recent years so if you have a big site that’s helping you make money, a dedicated server should work well for you.

Major Benefit of Dedicated Servers: You have access to all of the resources the server has to offer and can really customize the server to suit your needs.