There are several different kinds of web hosting options, and it is important to understand the difference between them before you begin looking for a host. The most common type of web hosting (and generally the cheapest) is Shared Hosting. Shared Hosting means that there are many websites hosted on a single web server.
A web server is a special computer that handles storing and displaying websites. For most people who are looking to host a website for the first time or those who are concerned about the cost, shared hosting is the best choice. Since many websites are served from a single machine, the costs are generally lower than other hosting options.
Costs vary from 0 to 40 USD per month on average. However, shared hosting does have some drawbacks. The more sites a web server hosts, the more likely it is that your website may react sluggishly, since there are many demands on the web server.
If you decide to purchase a shared web hosting account, you should ask your host what kind of hardware they host accounts on. Faster machines with more RAM are preferable. For example, a Dual Xeon CPU server with 2 GB of RAM will generally perform better than an old single Celeron CPU server with 512 MB of RAM.
Just as important as knowing the server hardware, is getting a sense of how many shared hosting accounts your host will put on a server before considering it full—the fewer, the better. The next type of web hosting is often referred to as Reseller Hosting.
This is similar to shared hosting, except that you are allowed to resell shared hosting accounts to others. Reseller hosting allows you to start your own web hosting business. The average cost of a reseller hosting plan tends to fall between 20 and 60 USD a month.
For those people who want to start a web hosting business but who do not have money for a VPS or dedicated server, reseller hosting is a good choice. The drawback is that like shared hosting, there may be many reseller hosting accounts on a server, each with many resold accounts.
Knowing more about what kind of web server you will be hosted on is important. On servers that contain resellers, the actual number of shared hosting accounts may vary widely, depending on how many accounts each reseller has. Many hosts do not require that you actually resell accounts if you buy a reseller plan.
If so, then it is a good step-up from standard shared hosting since you can typically host many domains under a single reseller account with no extra fees involved. In addition, you get more control over the domains you manage in a reseller plan.
Some hosts will also offer VPS/VDS hosting and perhaps even Dedicated Servers. VPS (Virtual Private Server) and VDS (Virtual Dedicated Server) hosting are different names for the same type of hosting accounts. Such accounts use special software to take a single physical web server and divide it into two or more separate virtual web servers.
Each virtual server acts as if it is a completely separate machine. Each virtual machine gets a guaranteed amount of the physical server resources including use of the CPU and disk space. VPS/VDS accounts have many of the advantages of dedicated servers without the higher cost.
A VPS/VDS account may cost from 30 to 120 USD a month on average. If you purchase a dedicated server, you receive an entire web server with no other accounts on it. Most of the time dedicated servers also permit you system administrator access (which allows you complete control over the server). Dedicated servers on average cost between 100 and 500 USD a month.