One of the common storylines here at Intersites is that creating a website is a lot like taking a trip to a foreign country. The analogies we can use to illustrate this connection are many, but one of the most straightforward and universal is that when it comes to web hosting you get what you pay for.
Paying for hosting space is essentially paying for digital real estate, and paying for digital real estate is strikingly similar to paying for real-real estate, in real life.
Option 1: Shared Servers
Let’s say you want to take a trip to Mexico. Price is your number one criteria, so you look for a guy who knows a guy who can help you get there on the cheap.
So you make some arrangements, and you meet this “guy” in a dark alleyway. He tells you about his “great deal,” and you give him your credit card number. This “guy” smiles, shuffles through some paperwork, and then gives you a one-way ticket to Tijuana, with assurances your room will be fine.
When you get to Tijuana, you find that instead of a comfortable spot near the beach, you’re in a youth hostel with 30 other people. You didn’t expect it to be this way, but you’re opened minded, and you got a great deal, so you go about your business and head out to sightsee.
When you get back, there are new people in your open room, and everything you brought with you is gone.
Hosting your website on a Shared Server is a lot like the scenario described above. It’s extremely cheap, and it may seem like a great deal. What people don’t realize, however, is that with a shared server your website will only be as secure as the least secure website on the server.
Users tend to think that their site can be kept secure by implementing proper coding practices, regardless of where their website resides. But this isn’t entirely true. Sharing virtual space with other people means that if someone else’s website is poorly coded, your website will be vulnerable. Just like if one of your roommates isn't as concerned about security as you.
Low priced shared hosting servers are notorious for being hacked. This is because all it takes is one poorly coded website for a hacker to get into the server and wreak havoc. “Havoc” can range from juvenile defacement of digital property, to the introduction of malware on your site, with the intent of stealing your customer’s financial information.
Option 2: Dedicated Servers
When you purchase a dedicated server, you are purchasing space that is exclusively reserved for your website. Kind of like when you book a suite at a nice hotel. On a dedicated server, your website will be the only website present, and as a result its security will be a direct reflection of the measures you put into place.
Dedicated servers also allow for a lot more flexible design. With dedicated servers, you can arrange things as you see fit, and make changes right when you want to make them. Essentially, dedicated servers allow for greater control and as a result a greater overall experience for both website creators and users.
Dedicated servers are more expensive than shared ones, but the cost is still a small portion of your overall budget, usually equivalent to around one to two hours of staff time per month.
You can go with the lowest possible cost for your web hosting space, but if you’re creating anything more than a personal website you’re taking a chance of contracting the modern-day equivalent of a case of Montezuma’s Revenge. Businesses that intend to interact with their customers through an online medium need dedicated servers, and we highly recommend them to all of our clients.
Posted in Help Me Understand