Types of Web Hosting: 6 You Need to Know About 2021

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There are six main types of web hosting out there – Shared, VPS, Dedicated, Cloud, Reseller, and WordPress hosting. When you’re browsing the different web hosting providers, you’ll stumble across multiple hosting plans, so it’s good to know what they all mean – and which one will be perfect for you.

We’ve pooled our expertise to give you a thorough analysis of each type of hosting, and formulated a side-by-side comparison chart to make it a little easier for you to know the difference!

Because they all range in prices, features and resources, this guide will help you figure out which type is best for your budget and online needs.

 Know the 6 Different Types of Web Hosting:

  1. Shared hosting – multiple websites reside on one single server and share the same resources.
  2. VPS hosting – one physical server is split into multiple virtual servers, allowing each website its own resources.
  3. Dedicated hosting – one website has a whole physical server to itself with access to all of the resources on it.
  4. Cloud hosting – instead of hosting your site on one server, you can use resources from multiple virtual servers to help maximise uptime.
  5. Reseller Hosting – businesses purchase a large amount of storage space and bandwidth from hosting providers and then sell space to other businesses or individuals.
  6. WordPress Hosting – hosting specifically optimized for WordPress sites, offering many tools tailored to the software.

Good to Know: What Is Web Hosting, Exactly?

All websites have one thing in common – they’re hosted on servers. Every website needs somewhere to live, and hosting is what makes your website accessible on the internet. The amount of storage your site has depends which hosting you go for – which leads us nicely into learning the different types that are out there.
1

Shared Web Hosting

Ideal for single website hosting and new website owners

Shared web hosting is one of the most common packages people go for. On shared plans, your website is stored on one single server, along with multiple other websites.

The reason we recommend this type of hosting for entry-level website owners is because you may not initially know how much storage or space you need, and you don’t want to end up paying more for resources that you later realize are unnecessary!

This way, you can dip your toes in before diving off the deep end! 

How Does Shared Hosting Work? 

Just like the other websites on the server, your site will be allocated space when you pay a monthly fee. Resources are shared between all of the sites on this single server but, depending on the provider, you’ll likely have access to your own maintenance, support and security.

Shared House Analogy

A great way to make sense of shared hosting is to think of it like living in a shared house. You have your own room (i.e. your website) with allocated storage space, while the living resources, such as the milk and toilet roll, are shared between all the people living in that one house.

Essentially, your room is your website, and the house is your server!

Shared Hosting Features 

Now that you know how this type of hosting works, let’s dive into the features you can usually expect from shared hosting:

  • Free backups (generally weekly backups)
  • Free domain
  • One site included
  • Minimum of 25 subdomains
  • Free SSL certificate 
  • Minimum of five email accounts (generally unlimited across providers)
  • Web design assistance

Shared Hosting Pricing

The starter prices for shared hosting range from $2.15 to $11.95. Most hosting providers also provide generous discounts to new customers, as well as a 30-day money-back guarantee.

Through our in-house research, we found the majority of hosting providers score above 60% when it comes to value for money.

If we look at the most advanced shared hosting plans across providers, prices range from $7.99 to $290.

InMotion, our top-ranked shared hosting provider, offers its most advanced plan for $27.99 per month with a 90-day money-back guarantee – scoring a nice 8/10 for value for money!

Good to Know:

Hosting providers will generally have three different plans per hosting type they offer. This may seem a bit confusing, but essentially there will be a single starter plan (basic level), a premium plan (slightly more advanced), and a business plan for each hosting type. By advancing your plan, you will have to pay more each month – however, you’ll have access to a greater amount of resources for your site.

Not Sure if Shared Hosting Is Right for You?

Remember, shared hosting is great if you’re just looking to get started with web hosting. Shared hosting works well for personal websites, and for small business owners looking to build a site on a tighter budget. The low costs and impressive amount of storage and resources involved also make shared hosting an ideal choice for entry-level site owners.

If you feel like you need a larger storage capacity, and want to explore plans with more individual resources, this guide can help you with that, too!

Pros and Cons of Shared Web Hosting

Pros Cons
Most cost-effective type of hosting Multiple websites utilizing one server means greater chances of website crashes
Easy to manage features such as uploading images and files Security is more limited compared to other types of hosting
Some customization is still available Website can run slower, because resources are being distributed
Ideal for small businesses and personal blogs Generally limited to one site – particularly if you choose a more basic shared plan
No need for an administrator because of the cPanel (control panel) interface, which makes it easier to manage your site
You’ll have your own email domain, even though the server is shared
In most cases, you’ll also have access to more than one database

Overall, shared hosting is the most affordable type of hosting out there, and it’s perfect for small business owners and personal bloggers who want to get on the internet without digging deep into their pockets.

It is important to note that security is more limited with shared hosting, and crashes can happen because of the split between resources across multiple sites.

It’s a great option to choose if you’re looking to get your site off the ground with a fair amount of storage space, too!

2

Our Top Rated Shared Hosting Providers to Get You Started

At this point, you’ll want to know the best places to go to get started with your shared hosting plan. There are many providers out there, but which ones have the best shared hosting packages? We’ve conducted a thorough analysis of the main hosting providers to get some results for you!

1. InMotion – best overall shared hosting provider

When considering features such as pricing, disk space, uptime and value for money, InMotion takes the number one spot.

Not only does it have an affordable starting price of $8.99 per month (excluding the new-customer discount) compared to other providers, it also has a 90-day money-back guarantee, 24/7 support, and unlimited disk space across all plans – not bad at all! 

It was the only provider in our research that scored 100% across customer support, shared features, and disk space. It also has excellent uptime, and offers a free website builder across all plans.

InMotion offers three shared hosting plans:

  • Lite (exclusive plan for WBE users) – ideal starter plan for beginners at $2.49 per month
  • Power – top seller shared plan at $8.99 per month (offers six websites and increased power for heavier traffic)
  • Pro – most advanced plan at $12.99 per month (unlimited websites and pro-level support)

You can read our full InMotion review to find out more:

2. HostGator – best for help and support

HostGator is our second top-rated shared hosting provider because of its ability to offer excellent support so you never have to worry! Its high-quality service also shines through in its shared hosting plans, with a high uptime score of 99.99% and 100 GB of storage space on the starter plan alone.

The downside of HostGator is that you don’t get a free domain or any backups – these will come as an additional cost. But considering it’s packed with unlimited bandwidth and a free SSL certificate, we’d say the pros definitely outweigh any cons!

HostGator has three shared plans (most with pretty fun names!):

  • Hatchling plan – HostGator’s cheapest shared hosting plan starts at $2.75 per month, and includes all the basic tools, as well as one domain
  • Baby plan – offers unlimited domains and bandwidth, as well as a free SSL certificate for $3.95 per month
  • Business plan – HostGator’s most advanced plan begins at $5.95 per month

Note: These plan prices include the discount that HostGator offers its new customers.

3. Bluehost – best for its freebies!

Bluehost is our third most recommended shared hosting provider because it doesn’t hold back when it comes to offering lots of free extra features – and, let’s face it, who doesn’t love freebies?

Alongside quite a cheap starting price of $7.99 per month (discount excluded), Bluehost provides a free domain, free backups, and an unlimited number of sites with its Plus plan – whereas InMotion only offers six sites.

There’s no doubt that Bluehost could be much better in terms of its value for money, but it’s definitely in the lead with an impressive 99.98% uptime performance. InMotion snagged a smaller 99.97% – close call!

Bluehost has four shared hosting plans to choose from:

  • Basic starter plan at $2.95 per month (inc. discount) – offers 24/7 customer support, 50 GB disk space and one website
  • Plus plan at $5.95 per month (inc. discount) – comes with unlimited sites and domains and unmetered storage
  • Choice Plus plan at $5.95 per month (inc. discount) – packed with all the features from the plus plan, as well as domain privacy
  • Pro plan at $13.95 per month (inc. discount) – the only Bluehost shared plan that provides a free SSL certificate
It’s reassuring to know that Bluehost is the top recommended shared hosting provider by WordPress, too! To find out more about Bluehost, the hosting options it offers, and how much it costs, check out our in-depth Bluehost Review.
3

VPS Hosting

Ideal for small business owners and personal websites that require allocated resources and higher performance level.

VPS stands for Virtual Private Server, and is one step up from shared hosting. This is where one physical server is distributed into multiple virtual servers, allowing each website more of its own resources, whilst staying within an affordable price range.

Shared hosting is the standard (cheaper) way of going about hosting a site, but the downfall of it is the slower speed, lack of security and limited resources.

VPS hosting is a good halfway point between shared hosting and dedicated hosting. It offers a lot more control when managing your site, as well as root access to the server to give you the freedom to install applications without needing to go through the provider!

Let’s dive further into all things VPS!

How Does VPS Hosting Work?

If we go back to our house analogy, you can think of VPS hosting as an apartment block. One block is separated into lots of apartments where residents (site owners) have their own resources that no one else can use. However, they’re all still under one large roof (the single physical server).

We recommend this type of hosting for those looking for a little bit more than what shared hosting has to offer. This is a great route if you realize your website now needs more storage and disk space, but you’re not quite ready to take on the world (and cost!) of dedicated hosting.

VPS Hosting Features

As a step up from shared hosting, we can expect a lot more features and benefits from VPS – so let’s see what on the table:

  • Unlimited domains and websites
  • More than 1 TB bandwidth
  • Free SSL certificate
  • 24/7 customer support
  • One dedicated IP address
  • Minimum allowance of 30 GB storage
  • Unlimited email accounts
  • Minimum 2 GB RAM available
  • Free backups

VPS Hosting Pricing: How Much Does It Really Cost?

VPS hosting starter prices range quite a lot across the hosting provider market. The cheapest VPS hosting we found through our research was IONOS by 1&1 with a starter price of $2 (excluding discount) and a higher-end price of $30. With a strong 60-day money-back guarantee, unlimited bandwidth, and free SSL certificate, 1&1 has quite the all-star package for VPS hosting!

Popular providers such as Bluehost and GoDaddy have a starter VPS hosting price of $29.99, and InMotion starts at $26.99.

Pros and Cons of VPS Web Hosting

Pros Cons
A more cost-effective option than dedicated hosting There is quite a large price gap between shared hosting and VPS, so it may not be as affordable for those on a tighter budget
Scalable Resources are allocated to different sites, which may cause server issues at peak times
More control over your server compared to shared hosting Software may need to be manually configured which can be tough for beginners
Root access and able to use scripts Not as secure as dedicated hosting
24/7 customer support
Have a choice of managed or unmanaged hosting services
Don’t have to pay for extra resources that your site may not need
Most VPS providers offer free migration if you’re looking to switch to their service
Better security
4

Our Top-Rated VPS Hosting Providers to Get You Started

It’s key for VPS hosting providers to have impressive uptime, scalable features and good value for money. We looked at a wide range of VPS providers to see how they match up this criteria so you have an idea of where to head if you think VPS hosting is best for you!

Our top three VPS hosting providers include InMotion, A2 Hosting, and Bluehost – let’s find out more about them:

1.    InMotion – overall best VPS hosting provider

In short, InMotion is the overall best VPS hosting provider because of its unlimited CPU cores, domains and email accounts – as well as its free backups on all plans!

Although the discounted starter price is a little more expensive than other providers at $26.99, InMotion’s features scored 95% in our in-house research and testing. This means you’re getting a good return on your investment, and there are still discounts for new customers and longer subscription lengths!

With three different pricing plans, InMotion’s VPS hosting ranges from $39.99 to $144.99 (for a one year subscription excluding discounts).

All InMotion VPS hosting plans include: 

  • Free website transfers and data migration
  • Resource monitoring visual dashboard (displaying your server’s RAM and usage)
  • Ecommerce optimization to ensure security and speed
  • High-availability servers
  • Unlimited CPU cores
  • Unlimited email accounts
  • Minimum of three dedicated IP addresses
  • 24/7 live customer support

With all of these features at play for an affordable price, we’d recommend InMotion to any small business.

2. A2 Hosting – best value for money

As a pretty close runner up to InMotion, A2 Hosting has the best value for money out of the wide range of providers we researched. This hosting provider scored a fantastic 80% for value for money, and stood out for being the only one to offer an ‘Anytime’ money-back guarantee which is a feature we can definitely get behind! 

If you have no issue with working a little harder alongside your web hosting provider in order to keep costs down, A2 Hosting offers affordable unmanaged VPS hosting plans.

Although this provider meets a lot of our criteria for being a trustworthy place to host, it does drop down the radar slightly for not offering a free domain – something both InMotion and Bluehost willingly do.

A2 Hosting has a starter price of $49.99 (excluding discounts) and a higher-end price of $99.99 for its full-power Turbo VPS plan. This is what you get in every A2 Hosting managed VPS plan:

  • Root access
  • Minimum of four CPU cores
  • Unlimited email accounts
  • Minimum of 75 GB storage
  • 24/7 phone and chat support
  • Free backups

If you feel that A2 Hosting sounds perfect for you, you’ll be happy to know it will migrate your site to its servers for you. This means you can avoid the hassle of setup, and focus on enjoying a great value for money hosting provider!

Note:

The migration service is only available if you’re looking to move to one of the A2 Hosting managed VPS plans, and if your current hosting provider uses cPanel.

For more information on all things A2 Hosting, check out our full review!

3. Bluehost – best for its features

We mentioned how great Bluehost can be for shared hosting, but it’s also up there with our top-recommended VPS hosting providers, too! Our research shows us just how feature-rich this provider is, with a strong uptime of 99.98%.

Plus, if you’re thinking about having to grab a domain – in addition to figuring out hosting – Bluehost offers a free domain across all plans, so that’s one less thing to worry about.

These are all the different features you can expect when signing up with Bluehost’s VPS hosting:

  • 30-day money-back guarantee
  • Root access
  • Free backups
  • Minimum of 2 CPU cores
  • Unlimited email accounts
  • Dedicated IP address
  • Unlimited domains and websites
  • Free SSL certificate

Bluehost has three VPS hosting plans to choose from:

Standard Enhanced Ultimate
Starter price $18.99 $29.99 $59.99
Regular price $29.99 $59.99 $119.99
Cores 2 2 4
SSD Disk Space 30 GB 60 GB 120 GB
RAM 2 GB 4 GB 8 GB
Bandwidth 1 TB 2 TB 3 TB
IP address 1 2 2

Bluehost is up there with our top-recommended VPS hosting providers because of its affordable entry point and impressive 99.98% uptime.

Whether it’s the right fit for you is just a question of scalability. If you don’t have specific needs for your website – and don’t mind paying a bit more than the shared hosting prices – then VPS will be great for you. But if you feel like you need a larger capacity to handle a lot more traffic, you’ll want to think about dedicated hosting instead. Let’s take a look!

5

Dedicated Hosting

Perfect for larger businesses dealing with huge amounts of site traffic.

Dedicated web hosting refers to a physical server being ‘dedicated’ to a single website owner. It provides you with the highest level of resource allocation and exclusive access to the server for top security and control. Hosting providers offer the whole environment to you and the service is completely managed. If you’re looking for top-level hosting that can handle your growth in site traffic, dedicated web hosting is ideal for you.

How Does Dedicated Hosting Work?

A hosting provider will lease to you your own custom-configured server, which you have the control to manage. Within that server, you’ll have access to large amounts of bandwidth, storage space and RAM – giving you everything you need to manage a large site. Unlike shared hosting, you don’t have to split your resources with other sites, which reduces the chance of your website crashing or having issues.

Dedicated hosting is like having your own property. You have all the space you need, but it comes at more of a cost. With that being said, we all know there are a bunch of perks to having your own house, so, in the world of dedicated hosting, let’s see what kind of benefits you can expect!

Dedicated Hosting Features

Now that you know how this type of hosting works, let’s dive into the features you can usually expect from dedicated hosting:

  • Money-back guarantee
  • Minimum of 4 CPU cores
  • Minimum of 8 CPU threads
  • Minimum of 5 TB bandwidth
  • Multiple location options
  • Free SSL certificate
  • Minimum of 3 IP addresses
  • 24/7 customer support
  • Minimum of 500 GB disk space
  • High uptime performance level

Dedicated Hosting Pricing: What’s the Cost Like?

Dedicated hosting’s starter prices can range from anywhere between $70 and $190 (excluding new customer discounts). It’s a lot more expensive than shared and VPS hosting, but this is offset by the top-level features you’ll receive in return.

InMotion, our top-recommended dedicated hosting provider, has a starter price plan of $139.99 per month (inc. discount), saving you $360 per year overall. The higher-end price you’ll find with InMotion is around $259.99 per month as part of its Elite hosting plan.

Bluehost is a close second with a high value for money score of 80%. Bluehost’s dedicated hosting plan starts at $79.99 per month (instead of $119.99) for 36 months.

HostGator has a starter price of $89.98 per month, including its discount, which gives you a nice 52% off its original price. HostGator’s most advanced ‘Enterprise Server’ dedicated plan is introduced at $139.99 per month.

Pros and Cons of Dedicated Web Hosting

Pros Cons
Much more reliable performance because of the exclusive resources More expensive than other types of hosting
More control over your server More complex to scale an entire physical dedicated server, so may not have room to expand resources if needed
Better security than other hosting types Requires more technical know-how since you have to handle server administration and management
Ability to take on any extra security measures with your server to meet your needs
Better suited for larger websites with heavy traffic
More space for backups and storage
Don’t have to pay for extra resources that your site may not need
Dedicated server support

Overall, we’d say that dedicated hosting is no doubt the most expensive type on the market. But if your website is receiving mass amounts of traffic and is in need of some seriously generous storage space, dedicated hosting is right for you.

It’s important to note that shared hosting will take care of administration and management for you, whereas with dedicated hosting, you’ll need to know a thing or two about running your server effectively!

If you think that dedicated hosting still sounds like it’s for you, then let’s take an in-depth look at our top-rated dedicated hosting providers. This way we can compare pricing points, features, and more!

6

Our Top-Rated Dedicated Hosting Providers to Get You Started

We’ve pooled our in-house expertise to give you a full breakdown of our best dedicated hosting providers.

1.    InMotion – best overall for dedicated server hosting

InMotion definitely takes the crown for dedicated hosting out of all the hosting providers we’ve carefully analyzed, because of its ability to shine in so many different areas.

What’s great about InMotion’s dedicated plans is the impressive amount of CPU cores on offer. Although its most expensive plan costs $539.99 per month, you’ll get 24 CPU cores for that price. These stabilize your site speed, and encourage Google to rank your site higher – the kind of stuff we love to hear!

InMotion dedicated hosting plans: 

Essential Advanced Elite CC-1000 CC-2000
Starter price/mo $139.99 $189.99 $259.99 $439.99 $539.99
Regular price/mo $169.99 $229.99 $299.99 $489.99 $619.99
Cores 4 4 6 12 24
RAM 16 GB 32 GB 64 GB 128 GB 192 GB
Backup storage 50 GB 50 GB 50 GB 100 GB 100 GB
Data transfer 15 TB 15 TB 20 TB 25 TB 25 TB
Dedicated IPs 5 10 15 15 15

2. HostGator – best uptime performance

Just as with shared hosting, HostGator takes the silver medal for dedicated hosting. This provider climbed our ranks due to its fantastic uptime score of 4.5 out of 5, which, combined with its unlimited bandwidth and generous CPU cores, helps HostGator knock it out of the park for dedicated hosting features. 

Check out a breakdown of HostGator’s different dedicated server plans here: 

Value Server Power Server Enterprise Server
Starter price/mo $89.98 $119.89 $139.99
CPU Cores 4 8 8
RAM 8 GB 16 GB 30 GB
Bandwidth Unlimited Unlimited Unlimited

Does HostGator sound like the one for you?

If you still need a little more information, check out our HostGator Review before making up your mind.

3. Bluehost – best value for money

There are generally a lot of low-cost dedicated servers out there, but the problem you’ll find is the major compromise on quality and hosting features. This is why Bluehost stands out for us. It manages to offer a reasonable starting price, without sacrificing key features.

Bluehost’s customer help and support exceeded our expectations which was impressive! Its effective live chat responses and knowledge base really led the way in this department.

Overall, Bluehost has a reliable uptime of 99.98% and offers the best plans of any dedicated provider we looked at. It also throws in free backups, which are rare.

The downfall of Bluehost was its not-so-generous amount of CPU cores – only four cores on every plan (compare that to InMotion’s 24 cores!).

Bluehost has three different dedicated hosting plans: 

Standard Enhanced Premium
Starter price/mo $79.99 $99.99 $119.99
CPU Cores 4 4 4
RAM 4 GB 8 GB 16 GB
Bandwidth 5 TB 10 TB 15 TB
Dedicated IPs 3 4 5
7

Cloud Hosting

Perfect for sites that experience hikes and dips in traffic (like for seasonal sales)

With cloud hosting, your site is stored on multiple servers, letting you take resources from various different places rather than just the one server. This is a perfect hosting type for websites that experience different hikes and dips in traffic, because it means you can pull the resources you need, whenever you need them! This makes cloud hosting extremely reliable and scalable, without the increased cost of dedicated hosting. 

How Does Cloud Hosting Work? 

Essentially, there is one physical server which is distributed into multiple virtual servers that your website is able to pull resources from – this is known as a cloud network. By having access to multiple servers, your site can maximize load and uptime, as well as reduce the effects of server crashes. If one server crashes, another one will kick in to keep everything running smoothly!

 

Cloud Hosting Features


With multiple servers at play, let’s see what sort of features we can expect from cloud hosting: 

  • Money-back guarantee
  • Ability to customize your server cluster based on specific needs
  • Free backups
  • Minimum of 5 TB bandwidth 
  • 24/7 customer support
  • Minimum of 40 GB storage
  • Unlimited websites across all plans 
  • Free SSL certificate

Cloud Hosting Pricing: How Much Does It Really Cost?

Cloud hosting pricing actually has quite affordable entry points, starting at around $4.99 per month – so you get access to a ton of cloud features without breaking the bank!

A2 Hosting, which is our top-recommended hosting provider, has a starting price of $4.99 per month and a higher-end price of $69.99 per month with a pool of excellent features on both sides!

Cloudways was our close runner-up, with prices starting at $10 but ranging all the way up to $1,290.04 for its most advanced cloud hosting plan. 

Kamatera, best known for its customization, introduces its prices at $4. But, like Cloudways, it reaches pretty expensive upper limits of $3,700. Although, this provider scored a 7.7 out of 10 for its value for money!

About Zara Choudhry

Zara Choudhry

I joined the Website Builder Expert team to share my true experiences so far and give you the tips that I wish someone gave me to avoid the ‘heavy sigh’ mistakes. I want to make it as simple as possible for others to bring their ideas to life and to see the website building process as a progressive opportunity, rather than an annoying virtual barrier!

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