vs. Dedicated vs. CoLo: Which Web Hosting Do I Need?
Virtual vs. Dedicated vs. CoLo: Which Web
Hosting Do I Need?
You know you need a web host, but you don’t know where to
start. So you do a web search to research potential solutions and
get a bit overwhelmed with all the jargon: UNIX, dedicated servers,
POP3, CoLo... the list goes on.
Step back a bit. You don’t need to learn everything about
web sites to choose a host. You do however need to know what a web
host is, and the basic types of web hosting. This knowledge will
lead you to know what type of hosting you need, and ultimately you
can make a sound decision.
To begin, let’s define the term. Web hosting is a service
that hosts web pages on servers that can be accessed through the
Internet. There are three primary categories of web hosting providers
that cater to the requirements of site owners; these include virtual
web hosting, dedicated web hosting, and co-located hosting.
There are various sources online that offer detailed information
and reviews on these services, but there are several details you
should pay most attention to. The points to consider before selecting
a web hosting provider include the number of clients they service,
years in business, customer service reputation, hardware specifications,
and backup routines. With that out of the way, let’s jump
in and explore the basic types of web hosting.
A dedicated web server is basically like the name sounds: it’s
dedicated to your site only. Typically it is leased to a site owner.
The hosting company is responsible for the maintenance, backing
up, security, and power management. The site owner manages the software-related
Dedicated hosting is useful for websites that need extra bandwidth
and system resources because of the use of technologies such as
e-commerce software, customized server applications, and heavy traffic.
Such websites are often better served by a dedicated hosting provider
rather than developing and running an in-house solution. Dedicated
hosting is possible with Windows, Mac, and Linux servers. A dedicated
server can cost upward of $100 / month.
Pros and cons: 24/7 tech support is available.
Speed, dependability, and customizability of website are often enhanced.
The response time of dedicated servers is fast as compared to shared
servers where the activity of other sites affects server speeds.
Reliability and customizability of websites are improved as dedicated
hosting offers greater storage capacity and greater freedom in terms
of hardware configurations and software installations; hard drives
can be upgraded and bandwidths increased with growth.
Shared servers and CoLo hosting are cheaper alternatives to dedicated
hosting. Moreover, as the server is not owned by the site owner,
security of sensitive data can be an issue.
Virtual hosting, also called shared hosting, is a popular and
cost-effective web hosting solution. The hosting provider leases
the website hosting server, services, and bandwidth to more than
one website. Small and medium-sized websites, which do not have
high traffic and have limited bandwidth requirements, benefit from
A virtual hosting offer by a service provider usually includes
features such as Internet connection, domain name registration,
file storage, email account, and may also include website design
assistance. The cost of virtual hosting is in the range of $5-40
per month. It can be more or less depending upon the package selected.
Pros and cons: Virtual hosting enables the establishment
of an online presence with no expensive equipment purchases required
on part of the site owners and therefore is the perfect solution
One of the limitations of virtual hosting is that sites compete
for the provider’s service; this may result in slow server
response times in periods of heavy traffic and make browsing inconvenient.
Since websites hosted on a server may be grouped under a single
IP address, there is a chance that a site owner may have to share
an IP address with adult or scam sites.
This can lead to debarring from search engine placements which
will have an adverse effect on the traffic. As the software components
are shared between websites, a site owner may not be able to personalize
the website as per his business objectives and target audience.
While purchasing virtual hosting services, it is useful to have
an idea of the total anticipated traffic during the day as well
as the visits during the peak period. This helps in obtaining a
package with sufficient bandwidth for immediate and near term needs.
Also, the cost of an upgrade and changes to the package should be
Co-location (Co-lo) hosting
In Co-location hosting, the server is owned by the site owner
and it is leased at the co-lo facility, where it is installed along
with other servers in the facility. A co-lo service enables site
owners to make maximum use of network access points and the freedom
to choose between telecom lines provided by the hosting company
and other telecom lines.
Co-location hosting enables site owners to utilize high bandwidth
at a cost that is not significantly higher than that of a normal
web hosting package. The site owner maintains the server while the
hosting provider ensures smooth running by providing regular power
supply and IT support.
Co-location hosting services can be standalone data centers or
companies that operate by leasing server space from a co-location
web hosting reseller. The cost of the server and the volume of rack
space required by the servers of a site owner influence the cost
of co-lo hosting. Servers that fit in with the dimensions of the
racks can help to save costs; co-locating tower servers usually
Additional services provided by the hosting provider and insurance
are other factors that affect cost. The monthly cost of a co-lo
service for a half-rack of server space can be up to $1000.
Pros and cons: The benefits of co-location hosting
include temperature and humidity controlled environment for the
servers; security from hacking, fire, and theft; provision of redundancy
and backup. It enables the site owner to control the critical features
of web hosting such as bandwidth allocation, routers, VPN, server
space, and VLAN.
Site owners may not find it easy to locate a co-lo service that
is situated close enough to facilitate easy and safe transfer of
servers and at the same time provide the best connection speeds.
Co-lo hosting is of greater advantage to those who have hosting
experience and consequently are better placed to recover the costs
Ultimately, it is the requirements of the site that dictate the
choice of web hosting solution. Online stores and sites with heavy
traffic are better off with dedicated hosting, personal blogs and
small sites without ecommerce activity that do not have high bandwidth
consumption can function with virtual hosting, and websites that
require a high degree of customization and deal with sensitive data
benefit from a co-lo hosting arrangement.
To determine what type of host you need, ask yourself what type
of site you have, and it should all flow naturally from there.
About the Author
John Hasson writes
for Find a Web Host.