The 5 Main Web Hosting Types | Everything You Need to Know

Many individuals and businesses require a website, whether for a personal blog or to keep customers informed.

In order to have a website, among other requirements, you’ll need a web hosting service: a server to keep your website’s information where users can access and view it.

The web hosting business is a major online service offered to new and experienced users wanting to maintain a website.

You need to understand a few things with the various types of terminology floating around in the web hosting business. 

I’ll explain the different web hosting types and their pros and cons.

The Different Types of Web Hosting Plans

The world of web hosting can confuse individuals new to creating a personal or business website.

Choosing the right web hosting plan will affect your website’s speed, security, and reliability performance. Ultimately, it affects customer retention and satisfaction depending on how users perceive your website.

In addition, one of the main variables in choosing the right web hosting plan is price. Hosting a website can run from a few dollars to hundreds of dollars per month.

Companies with their core business online (e.g., search engines, social networks) will have their hosting costs in the thousands to millions of dollars per month. Many of these companies will build their own data center to host their websites.

Now, let’s go over the standard web hosting plans and structures.

1. What is Shared Hosting?

Shared hosting allows multiple users to host multiple websites on the same server. It’s the most common and cheapest way to host a website. All websites on the server share the same resources, such as RAM and CPU.

Think of shared hosting like cars and trucks on a highway. Where the vehicles are the websites and the highway is the server. Some vehicles are optimized for speed, whereas others are poorly built. The trucks all have heavy loads.

All the vehicles share the same highway going from point A to various locations. The more cars and trucks on the highway, the more clogged up the highway becomes. In addition, the slow vehicles cause other vehicles to go slow, just like a website.

To attract more customers, gain market share, and increase revenue, web hosting providers offer shared hosting plans as an introductory service for the growing demand for new websites.

Pros of Shared Hosting

  • inexpensive
  • no technical knowledge required
  • great for bloggers, entrepreneurs, small businesses
  • low maintenance

Cons of Shared Hosting

  • limited resources
  • limited control of server
  • often slow
  • server resources shared with many websites

A common issue or phrase for shared hosting is a bad or noisy neighbor. A bad neighbor is a website on a shared hosting plan that hogs the server resources due to the size and traffic of the website. A poorly designed website can also be a bad neighbor, which would lead to additional resource requirements.

Now that you know the meaning of shared hosting, you should understand that shared hosting isn’t a bad thing. In the end, it saves consumers money while allowing them to have a website.

Many companies provide inadequate shared hosting performance, but some hosting providers have excelled at providing optimal performance. 

Shared hosting has excelled so far that even managed WordPress hosting is optimized on shared servers.

2. What is VPS (Virtual Private Server) Hosting?

A VPS is a dedicated but still a shared server with a guaranteed amount of resources allotted to your hosting account. For example, a server with 32 GB of RAM is partitioned into four equal servers allowing your account to have 8 GB of dedicated (guaranteed) RAM.

Pros of VPS Hosting

  • guaranteed resources
  • greater stability and performance
  • more control of server
  • runs own copy of the operating system

Cons of VPS Hosting

  • not scalable, cannot add more resources

3. What is a Dedicated Server?

This used to be the granddaddy hosting plan that many hosting companies offered. As the name suggests, a dedicated server provides you with resources that you don’t share with other users. This means your website(s) uses up all the available RAM, CPU, and storage.

It’s like having your own personal server. Then why don’t businesses buy their own server? Well, many businesses did buy/lease their own servers and operated them in a local data center.

The main advantage of having a dedicated server through a hosting company is they will provide some assistance and support for the server, especially if the server malfunctions. But a notable cost-impact variable is bandwidth: imagine paying for all your website traffic (upload and download data) through your internet service provider.

Pros of a Dedicated Server

  • Complete control of server software
  • Dedicated resources

Cons of a Dedicated Server

  • made to order (can take time to set up or make hardware changes)
  • expensive for entrepreneurs and small businesses
  • server management is usually your responsibility

But now, many businesses utilize cloud hosting for their websites.

4. What is Cloud Hosting?

Let’s get one ambiguity out of the way: the word cloud can have different definitions for different people.

For example, uploading your documents from your laptop to Dropbox is called cloud storage: Dropbox saves your files on its servers (or on the cloud).

But cloud hosting is another matter. Cloud hosting is similar to VPS hosting, except it takes advantage of multiple servers. This means the resources required to host your website are spread across several servers. It has a divide-and-conquer approach to provide faster web hosting performance. And in case one server goes down, your website will still be up and running. Amazon Web Services and the Google Cloud Platform are leaders in cloud computing.

Pros of Cloud Hosting

  • scalable
  • stability spread across servers
  • guaranteed resources

Cons of Cloud Hosting

  • limited control of infrastructure
  • can be inconsistent if no guaranteed resources
  • usually more expensive than shared and VPS hosting

Generally, VPS or cloud hosting is the next step for a business to improve performance from a shared hosting plan.

5. Managed Hosting

Managed hosting refers to companies offering hosting plans that fully or partially manage the server. This includes server software upgrades, security, infrastructures, etc. Managed hosting is often bundled with the 4 different types of hosting mentioned aboved.

What is Managed WordPress Hosting?

Managed WordPress hosting is a specialty service where the hosting company administers all technical aspects of WordPress. This includes WordPress upgrades, server requirements, security, support, and backups.

Many hosting companies offer managed WordPress hosting services (some exclusively) due to the increase of WordPress-developed websites. 

The WordPress content management system platform powers over 30% of all websites online today. You or someone you know probably already use WordPress.

Managed WordPress hosting does come at a premium, usually starting at $20 per month.

Related: 7 Best WordPress Hosting


The price and performance of a hosting plan can vary depending on the hosting provider and the different types of server setups and included features.

In my opinion, if you’re a small business or starting as a blogger, it’s best to go with a managed hosting plan with dedicated server resources.

Go with a shared hosting plan if you’re truly on a budget. You can always change plans or hosting providers later, though this can be costly or time-consuming if you don’t have a technical background.