Advantages of cloud computing
When you look at hosting your own website, there is a myriad of options available to you now, from free platforms like Blogger and WordPress.com, to Shared hosting providers, to VPS and Dedicated servers.
It really depends what your goal is, but if this is a website for your brick and mortar business, or a website you plan on taking seriously I recommend you look at a Cloud based service that will offer you administrative access to your server, this will usually come in the form of either a VPS (virtual server) or a dedicated server.
Free unlimited hosting
When you receive advice on how to go about hosting your own website, most people will point you in the direction of getting an account with a company like Blue Host or Hostgator offering great deals like unlimited everything with a control panel to install a lot of web apps for example WordPress.
While this solution works for a lot of people, If you run any kind of business or plan on taking your website seriously, I suggest you stay away from shared hosting providers, for example the ones I mention above, or free platforms like Blogger and WordPress.com (Installing WordPress on your own website is fine though, I am using it for this site!)
I say this for a lot of reasons
1)Rankings: When you have a shared host, your website is usually sharing it’s IP with hundreds or thousands of other websites, when it comes time to rank your website on Google or other search engines they look less favorably at a website which shares the same IP address as thousands of other websites (note most hosts do give you the option to pay for a dedicated IP, but it’s not usually cheap)
2) Security: As mentioned in my previous point you share the same IP with thousands of other websites, you will also share the same server with a lot of other people, while these servers are generally well secured, the fact that they have thousands of users on there leaves them open to exploitation more easily, if the server is compromised potentially every site hosted on that server is compromised, it also a bigger target for hackers.
With your own server you can determine the level of security, and who you let log into the server.
3) Customization: Shared hosts generally give you very little option to customize the server, they provide you a control panel, and you can deploy applications they’ve chosen from that Control Panel, say you want to make changes to the Apache (web server) configuration files, you usually can only edit your .htaccess file.
4) Performance: While other users can sometimes even affect the performance of a VPS, in my experience on a good host this is quite rare, however on a shared host if another website is under a high load it will affect the performance of your website, increasing load times for people visiting the site.
Cloud computing basics
Not to delve too deep into Cloud computing buzz words, but to define the differences between “Shared” and “VPS or Dedicated” hosting, a shared host would for the most part fall under the umbrella of PaaS or Platform as a Service meaning they provide you a platform to perform your business, but don’t give you full access to that platform, so for example with a Shared host you will get access to a Web server, applications like a CMS and a Database server.
However you won’t have free reign over everything.
VPS or Dedicated servers would fall under IaaS or Infrastructure as a Service which means they provide you the infrastructure and you have full access to install / delete / re-install whatever you want.
Security in cloud computing is a contentious topic, but as mentioned before I believe you are better off being able to configure your own server and remove any unnecessary attack surface, Shared hosts have to make their service as user friendly as possible, which opens up certain security risks.
Not to mention when you have a few thousands web sites hosted on a server, chances are higher that one of those web sites will be directly targeted, which can compromise the entire server.
Cloud computing security is something to take seriously and there are entire books written on this topic.
Host your own website
Now that I’ve given you some reasons why you should consider running your own VPS server, I will list some services I recommend to use.
GoDaddy is not a bad service, I made the decision to switch all my domains as they expire over to Namecheap, I just have a few gripes with GoDaddy, I’ve found their checkout process has become spam ville, you need to decline at least 10 different extra items to buy what you want, the cost of their privacy and SSL certificates is high, and the cost to renew a domain is always quite high.
For those reasons I’ve begun switching to Namecheap.
Once you get your domain it is now time to pick your host, If you have decided to take my advice I will list my favorites that I have personally used.
Cloud computing companies / VPS / Dedicated Servers
I will give some of my recommendations for cloud storage providers
1. Bang for Buck – VPS Dime
Absolutely no competition, I believe VPS Dime offers the best deal for a VPS server on the market right now, $7 per month for a 4 vCPU, 6GB RAM, 30GB SSD storage and 2TB of monthly transfers.
This is more than enough capacity to handle a lot of websites being on 1 server, and 2TB of traffic should be sufficient for a medium to high traffic website, unless you are streaming video or audio.
I’ve used these guys for a while and I can say their service is great, for a budget VPS provider I’ve been given a fantastic uptime, and the few outages I’ve had they always notified before.
They use to also offer cheap cloud storage but it seems they only offer that through their parent company Backupsy
2. Performance – Atlantic.net
I could possibly also list these guys in the bang for buck category as well, 99c a month for a server with 10GB hard disk, 1 vCPU, 256MB Ram, and 1TB of monthly transfers, that is a great deal for a small server to host small websites.
Another thing these guys do that I love is offer FreeBSD as an option for your server, not a lot of other hosts do this, FreeBSD is my favourite server OS, it’s stable, lean and secure.
What puts them into the performance category is quite simply out of all VPS hosts I’ve tried, these guys consistently perform the best, best ping, best I/O performance etc, even against probably their biggest competitor Digital Ocean, I’ve found Atlantic to always come out #1.
3. Bargain basement – ChicagoVPS
Under normal circumstances I probably would not really recommend these guys, they are OK, but they do sometimes offer incredible sales deals, for example I have a server with 4 vCPU, 2GB ram, 2TB transfer and 2 IP addresses, and it cost me $60 for 3 years.
I put some websites on there that are not important, and if you go with them I’d suggest the same thing, simply because there has been several times where they have had a planned outage, never emailed me and did not turn my server back on, so it was offline for a few hours until I could manually turn it on again.
Aside from that the actual servers give a good performance, and they always have a bargain bin with some good deals on VPS and Dedicated servers.
4. Personal cloud storage – Backupsy
These guys are owned by the same people as VPS Dime, their target niche is for people looking for a high storage VPS so their plans start with 250GB of storage for $10 per month (but they have an ongoing coupon for 40% off, so realistically it’s $6 a month) and go up.
Once again a great service from these guys.
I hope this helps – if you have any questions about hosting or would like to know more, feel free to follow me on twitter @darvilleit