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Web Hosting 101: A Guide for Agencies

Agency life: It’s hectic, it’s exciting, and you’re always spinning ten plates at once. The last thing you want to burn precious time on is the question of web hosting. You just need it to work.

First, the bad news: making an informed choice requires a little time to gather the relevant knowledge. Not the whole enchilada necessarily, but enough to be confident about what you’re paying for.

The good news? Most hosting options can be grouped into just a few categories. We’ve created this handy 101 guide to help break them down, so you can see which option is right for you at a glance.

Dedicated Hosting

Large enterprises be large. They have big networks and big demands. As such, they require dedicated space for a variety of sites and apps—and plenty of power to fuel them all. But doing it in-house isn’t an option when infrastructure is prohibitively pricey. Instead, enterprise-level web hosts provide dedicated, off-site hosting.

While this approach offers obvious benefits—such as strong reliability and oodles of space—it doesn’t come cheap; dedicated hosting can cost tens-of- thousands per year. It’s also worth noting that you won’t actually have ownership of your server in this setup.

Outside of large enterprises, dedicated hosting can be overkill. A large site (of around 2,000, 2 MB web-pages) only needs around 4 GB of drive space. Dedicated hosting typically offers at least 250 times that requirement—and the pricing reflects that. Still, dedicated hosting is often seen as a gold standard for companies who can afford to go the whole hog.

Right for: Large enterprises and organizations; resource-intensive, high-volume development.

Shared Hosting

Bloggers, freelancers, cat photographers—these are some typical shared-host customers. Geared towards individuals and Wordpress hosting, shared hosting is cheaper and offers both less control and power than dedicated hosting. But with the right host, it can be more than enough to meet the requirements of a small blog or portfolio site.

While on paper, the shared-hosting package you choose may offer enough monthly bandwidth, security, or management options—the reality for agencies is that shared hosting isn’t ideal when it comes to client projects.

Why? Because shared hosting, well, shares. It divvies up resources dynamically to meet demand—resulting in a battle for juice at peak times and when heavy-duty applications are deployed. For example, if another site on your server starts running a new video channel, your projects could shoulder the impact.

That becomes a deal-breaker when delivering projects for clients—as leaving performance to chance isn’t an option.

Right for: Bloggers, personal portfolio sites, tight budgets.

VPS Hosting

Seen as the middle-ground between shared and dedicated hosting, VPS means ‘virtual private server’, but it’s something of a misnomer. A VPS is not technically a private server. Rather, it uses software to fence-off server resources as your own, making it virtually—rather than physically—dedicated.

Picture it like a hotel. With dedicated hosting, you’re buying a floor. With VPS, you’re buying a room; you’ll technically share the hotel with other guests, but access to the room’s amenities? Yours and yours alone. Shared hosting is more like hostel living— expect a line-up for the shower during peak times.

VPS hosting is offered as either a self- or fully-managed VPS solution. The former provides more client end control (which is better for devs), while the latter provides more hands-on maintenance from the web host (which is better for novices). Accordingly, the costs tend to be higher for fully-managed VPS solutions.

A good VPS should serve up a number of must-haves for development teams: powerful specs for performance; root access for rapid control, an array of runtime environments like PHP or Apache; and a user-friendly interface like gold standard Plesk Onyx.

Right for: Agencies, mid-sized businesses, charitable organizations, small enterprises, popular bloggers.

Cloud Hosting

Everything is moving to the cloud, or so everyone keeps saying. And true enough, you’ll likely use at least one or two cloud-driven tools daily. But how does the cloud look when it comes to web hosting?

Cloud hosting divides up all of your stored data across a cluster of servers. This means that the risk of downtime in a server malfunction is reduced, while performance integrity is increased thanks to distribution of demand across multiple servers. The one major con is that the integrity of the host is key, because when cloud hosting goes down, it goes down hard.

For comparable horsepower to dedicated hosting, expect to shell out large sums—cloud hosting is cheaper than it was, but is still very expensive.

Right For: Very large enterprises, search engines.

Which Web Host?

Large scale hosts can become victims of their own success. They struggle to meet high demand across stretched customer service teams and server resources. To cater to the masses, their specs take a hit—lacking true optimization. And terms of conditions? Littered with caveats to ensure those highly-marketable “unlimited” specs are more limited than you thought.

Rebel takes a different approach. Transparency and service come first. Our VPS hosting delivers on speed, reliability and security. And with our dedicated VPS manager, we ensure every client is set up for success.

We’re also based in Canada—where data privacy is taken seriously. This ensures sensitive data stored on our servers isn’t subject to the kind of over-zealous governmental intrusions found elsewhere. And the best part? Switching over is seamless and totally free.

At Rebel, we know that agencies value quality at a price that respects margins. That’s why we’re offering our VPS at a promotional price of 70% off. Now you can leave the hosting to Rebel and move onto the next urgent item on the agenda—team laser-tag.

Image Credits: Shutterstock / s4svisuals

Miranda Boisvert

Miranda Boisvert

Marketing Manager for growth & partners. Extroverted introvert with a background in gender equality & criminology. Passionate about people, social justice, & online engagement.

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