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Deploying and Hosting Your Website: Comparing Platform Options

Introduction

Once your website is developed, you need to deploy it live and host it somewhere accessible to visitors. There are countless options for hosting and deployment – from dedicated servers you manage yourself to fully managed cloud platforms requiring no IT expertise. Factors like traffic levels, performance needs, security concerns, ease of use, scalability and costs help determine optimal solutions. This guide examines key criteria in choosing deployment and hosting platforms for web properties.

Key Deployment and Hosting Terminology

Common terms to understand when researching options:

  • Domain Name – The website URL like www.example.com. Can be purchased independently of hosting.
  • Shared Hosting – Your site shares a server with other sites to distribute resources and costs.
  • VPS Hosting – Virtual private server allocated only to your site but still shared physical resources.
  • Dedicated Server – A physical server fully dedicated just to your site.
  • Cloud Hosting – Virtual server resources provisioned on demand from managed cloud providers.
  • Hybrid Hosting – Combining on-premise infrastructure with public cloud platforms.
  • Static Site – Sites with content that doesn’t change dynamically. Can be hosted easily on CDNs.
  • Dynamic Site – Sites with server-side scripting and databases, requiring web server like Apache or Nginx.
  • SSL Certificate – Adds HTTPS encryption to traffic between visitors and your site. Should always be used.

Shared Hosting

Entry-level method of hosting multiple sites on one server:

Pros

  • Very inexpensive
  • Little technical expertise required
  • Often provides free domain

Cons

  • Limited resource allotments
  • Performance varies
  • Less configuration control

Best For

  • Small personal sites
  • Low-traffic blogs

Examples

  • GoDaddy
  • Bluehost
  • HostGator
  • iPage
  • InMotion

With minimal needs, shared plans offer affordable hosting ease. But constrained resources can hamper growth.

WordPress-Optimized Hosting

Managed hosting streamlining WordPress deployments:

Pros

  • Auto WordPress installation
  • Built-in caching and CDNs
  • Pre-configured security
  • Scales well with traffic

Cons

  • Less flexible beyond WordPress
  • More resource-intensive

Best For

  • Medium-high traffic WordPress sites

Examples

  • WPEngine
  • Pagely
  • Kinsta
  • Pressable
  • Flywheel

For WordPress sites seeing substantial visitors, optimized hosts ease management burdens.

VPS Hosting

Mid-range virtualized hosting with guaranteed resource allotments:

Pros

  • Predictable dedicated resources
  • Affordable initial costs
  • More control over software

Cons

  • Requires moderate technical expertise
  • Resource upgrades still constrained

Best For

  • Growing small sites
  • Businesses with multiple sites

Examples

  • InMotion
  • Liquid Web
  • A2 Hosting
  • Hostwinds
  • Bluehost

Guaranteed resources enable stable growth beyond basic shared hosting limitations.

Dedicated Server Hosting

Renting an entire physical server:

Pros

  • Full control over resources and software
  • Fastest performance
  • Can accommodate high traffic levels

Cons

  • Most expensive option
  • Requires strong technical expertise

Best For

  • Large enterprise sites
  • Sites requiring custom infrastructure

Examples

  • SingleHop
  • ServerMania
  • Liquid Web
  • OVH
  • Leaseweb

For organizations with demanding performance and customization needs, dedicated servers deliver full power and flexibility.

Managed Cloud Hosting

Fully managed infrastructure through cloud platforms like AWS, Azure and Google Cloud:

Pros

  • Automated provisioning and maintenance
  • Excellent scalability and uptime
  • Usage-based hourly billing

Cons

  • Complex initial configuration still required
  • Steep learning curve

Best For

  • Data-driven and realtime sites
  • Applications needing robust scalability

Examples

  • AWS Elastic Beanstalk
  • Azure App Service
  • Google Cloud Platform
  • Heroku
  • Netlify

Automated infrastructure management makes cloud platforms ideal for complex, high-scale sites despite the steeper onboarding.

CDN Hosting

Content delivery networks globally cache and distribute static assets:

Pros

  • Drastically faster performance
  • Lower hosting costs
  • Integrates with other platforms

Cons

  • Typically only suitable for static content

Best For

  • Media heavy sites
  • Sites prioritizing speed

Examples

  • Cloudflare
  • AWS CloudFront
  • Akamai
  • Fastly
  • StackPath

CDNs turbocharge sites heavy on static media through distributed caching and edge delivery.

Hybrid Hosting

Using a mix of on-premise and cloud hosting:

Pros

  • Leverages existing infrastructure investments
  • Keep sensitive data on-premise
  • Flexible cloud scaling

Cons

  • Increased complexity
  • Data integration challenges

Best For

  • Large organizations with on-premise servers
  • Applications with security considerations

Examples

  • AWS Outposts
  • Azure Stack
  • Google Anthos
  • OpenStack
  • VMware Cloud on AWS

For large businesses, hybrid enables gradually transitioning legacy infrastructure to the cloud.

Assessing Needs

Before selecting hosting, determine:

  • Type of site and stack
  • Traffic volume
  • Performance requirements
  • Budget constraints
  • Security sensitivities
  • Compliance obligations
  • Developer skill sets
  • Scaling needs

Matching needs to the capabilities hosting platforms offer prevents under or over-provisioning.

Migrating to New Hosts

Steps for changing web hosting providers:

  • Backup site files and databases
  • Research new host capabilities
  • Purchase new hosting plan
  • Set up new site instance from backup
  • Update nameservers to new host
  • Test new environment thoroughly
  • Update URLs
  • Monitor first days closely for issues

Allot time for a smooth transition avoiding downtime when shifting providers.

Optimizing Deployments

Tactics to streamline publishing site changes:

  • Script builds into pipelines
  • Automate QA validation checks
  • Add commit hooks triggering pushes
  • Tag releases
  • Implement staging/QA servers
  • Document processes in wikis
  • Containerize applications
  • Spin up disposable test environments

Consistent, automated processes enable agile development.

Securing Sites and Data

Crucial measures regardless of hosting approach:

  • SSL certificate for encryption
  • Disable unnecessary ports
  • Strong passwords
  • Restrict admin access
  • Leverage available firewalls and filtering
  • Proactive patching
  • Backups and snapshots
  • DDoS mitigation options
  • Remove unneeded software
  • Ongoing penetration testing

Shared responsibility models obligate diligent technical protections.

Conclusion

The hosting platform underpinning your website can either enable or constrain your goals and success. Select solutions tailored specifically to the size, security needs and functionality of your properties. Fully managed cloud platforms offer convenience, while dedicated servers provide customization for large complex applications. Weigh the trade-offs of control vs automation. Partnering with reliable hosts simplifies maintenance so you can focus fully on great development and serving visitors.

By Dani Davis

Dani Davis is the pen name of the writer of this blog with more 15 years of constant experience in Content marketing and informatics product, e-commerce niche.

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