In this article I am going to focus on Virtual Private Servers (VSP), Business Class Hosting, and Plesk. I share with you what I experienced out in the wild while working at 2 of the largest domain registrars and hosting providers. Add to this what I learned and saw while being a PHP Programmer since 2006.
Types of Servers
Shared Hosting – This is a hardware server that hosts multiple websites. I’ve seen upwards of 500 websites on one physical server. I would not recommend this. Some shared hosting providers have automated systems that move websites around so the servers will be balanced and not become overloaded. Mostly this is the big hosting providers.
Virtual Private Server (VPS) – This is my favorite. If you own a business class website, this is the best solution as far as I am concerned. VPS can be configured with a few server resources such as CPU power and memory. You can have a “small”, “medium”, “large”, or an “extra large” VPS. You only need to have the size that meats your needs. Add Plesk, which I cover below) and you have a rockin’ setup.
Hardware Servers – These are in much less demand now that everyone is using Solid State Device (SSD) drives in place of spinning drives. SSD makes a ton of difference and removed the bottle neck on the server. These is some need for hardware servers though. If a website has a lot of servers are is running a resource intensive application a hardware server might be needed. In the old days even the smaller businesses were utilizing hardware servers. Not so much now since SSD drives are so more more affordable and hardware is getting so much more powerful.
Different Sever Operating Systems
Linux – Linux is open source and is widely used. There is a whole community out there that supports Linux and keeps it free. You can download a copy of Linux for free. Install that Linux on an old laptop or desktop, do a small amount of configuration, connect it to the Internet, and you have a web server.
Unix – Not so widely used for hosting since most Unix operating systems are licensed.
Windows – You will find Windows servers out there in the wild. These are mostly used for web applications written in Dot Net – A Microsoft programming language.
This is the support you will receive from those big companies that offer cheap hosting and you probalby experience the same level of support if you have one of their VPS servers or a dedicated server.
Level 1 Support – When you call the big hosting companies you talk with a level 1 support tech. This person has limited authority to make many changes, is limited in access to they hosting system, and is probably not a server administrator.
Level 2 Support – This is the person the level 1 tech expedites problems to that the level 1 lacks the skills or access to resolve. The level 2 tech is probably not a server administrator. He or she probably has more experience that the Level 1 and has more access to the system, and is limited in what he or she can do. You will probably never talk with a level 2 at one of these cheap hosting companies.
Server Administrator – These are the folks that have the skills to work on hosting and email servers and have access to do so. If the problem is such that the level 2 cannot resolve the server admin will be given the task. In a perfect world you would want to talk directly with this person. If you are hosting with one of these large / cheap hosting companies you will never talk with a server admin.
Email Support – More than likely you will have access to a support form where you enter your hosting account information, the issue you are experiencing or your question. When submitted a ticket will be created and it will be added to a queue. Your ticket may remain in this queue for 24 to 72 hours before it is read by a level 1 support technician.
The Queue – No mater how you enter the system, via phone or by completing a form, you will enter a queue if the level 1 cannot immediately address your problem, and escalating your ticket will take even more time.
Specialized Hosting Companies
I’ve worked with 2 specialty web hosting houses. One was for Drupal and they other was for Magento 2. These types of hosting vendors are unique in that they specialize in the application or applications they specialize. The Drupal host was much better than the Magento host. I had two ways to interact with the Drupal host, by phone or by opening a ticket. Above I covered te type of support you will probably find out there. In the case of the hosting company that specialized in Drupal, I could call and talk with a server administrator and he or she could answer my question or solve my problem in real time. No queue. If I opened a ticket, I would hear back in about 15 minutes, and the issue would be resolved by a system administrator. No level 1, and no queue. This type of hosting is very expensive. They provide two types of servers. 1) a VPS hosting server that was rather healthy with something like 8 cores and 12G of RAM that would run about $450 a month. 2) they provided a hardware server with 16 cores and 32G of RAM for $750 a month. Giving an application a lot of resources solves a lot of issues. What your paying for here is the concierge service and access to a server admin not the hardware.
Business Class Hosting
This is the missing hosting class. You may pay more for business class hosting, however it is well worth it. These hosting providers will cost more than those big guys with there level 1’s, however they provide a inexpensive alternative to the specialty hosting providers. With a business class hosting provider you will get access to a system administrator via phone or email and not have to get stuck in a queue. You will get better guidance as well.
For more information read : Business Class Hosting
I’ve supported servers that do not have a control panel and I have a VPS with Plesk installed. Plesk is feature rich and gives the webserver
Plesk is a web server control panel that makes it possible for a website owner or a developer to manage their own server.
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Shared Hosting – The big guys might start at $10 a month while the business class folks might want $15 or $20 a month.
Reseller Hosting – These guys are all over the board. You might be able to find a reseller account for $5 however the savings is not worth it. If you are going to spend $25 for a reseller account why not spend $50 a month for a VPS running Plesk?
VPS Hosting – If you have read this far you know that a VPS plus Plesk is my favorite. For good reason. If you are a business person, why take a chance on cheap hosting or worse yet allow yourself to get caught up in a queue while trying to do business on the web. With a VPS and Plesk you have your own server and a world class control panel. Plesk will make your life easier. The bug guys with the support queues might run $80 a month for a VPS and the business class hosing providers might charge as little as $50 a month for a very nice VPS hosting account that has Plesk installed.
Hardware Servers – Do your research before you go with a hardware server. You probably do not need a hardware server. If you do, I would not go with the big guys. They will charge more and they are the ones with the level 1 support queues. Go with a business class host and save a few bucks while having access to a real system administrator without the queue.
Managed Hosting Accounts – This is really an add on service. Your host will watch your server closer and will handle all updates to the operating system as well. We worth it if you can afford it.
Business Class Hosting – I’ve talked about this already. This is the only way to go. The big guys charge more and give less. As you have read the business class hosting providers cost less while giving you direct access to they system administrator. No queue and better advice.
VPS Server Resources
Virtual Private Servers are measured by tow basic resources.
- CPU cores which they refer to as vCPU. More cores more CPU power.
- Random Access Memory or RAM. More RAM more power.
Most of us can do well with 2 cores and 4G of RAM. It is relatively easy to change your server’s configuration so talk with your vendor and start where they say to start. Then you can make an adjustment after you set up and running, if need be.
We have covered shared hosting, VPS hosting, hardware servers, the big guys and their support with queues, and business class hosting. By now you probably have figured out I like VPS hosting with Plesk from business class hosting. If you are running a business I would recommend becoming familiar with what I write about here. I recommend finding a business class hosting provider and talk with them about your needs.
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