Web hosting providers are a lot like property or apartment managers.
Lets compare. First, I’ll start with shared hosting.
Do you remember when GeoCities first came out? In order to get a free web site, you first had to pick your neighborhood based on your site’s content. For example, if you had a site about technology, you’d choose the neighborhood silicon valley. From there you’d choose a house. Each house was assigned a number and your website URL would then be geocities.com/siliconvalley/[housenumber]. GeoCities long ago did away with that format, and web hosting has come a long way since those days but the concept of shared web hosting is mostly the same.
When you purchase a shared hosting plan, you’re essentially renting space on a web server that is shared by several other web site owners all hoping to host a web site on a budget. The server space will come fully ready for you to ‘move in to’. Essentially, the electricity will be turned on, the fridge will be present for you to store your perishables, and water will run. The property managers (web host provider) will make sure you have a clean space to move your stuff into. It is then up to you you to move your furniture in and organize it however you want.
Web hosting providers generally do not provide support for coding, scripting, development, or design. Just as apartment managers generally don’t tell you where to hang your pictures, which furniture to use or where to put your things.
What if something breaks?
“Your analogy doesn’t work. My property manager will fix the stove if it breaks.”
If something that comes with your shared hosting plan breaks, lets say cPanel in this example, we will certainly fix it for you. But we aren’t going to cook your dinner for you and neither will your property manager. 😉
“What about all the cool programs you offer for me to install? Like WordPress? Do you support that?”
We can host a WordPress site and we even offer an easy way for you to install it. WordPress is a third party product. Think of WordPress as the refrigerator in your apartment. It may come with the apartment but your apartment managers didn’t create it. You can put whatever you want in it. But your property managers aren’t going to keep it clean for your nor throw out the food that goes bad. That’s your job. The concept is the same with hosting a WordPress site. You need to keep it clean and updated to the latest secure version. This actually applies to any software, script, or program you install on your website.
This doesn’t mean you’re completely on your own. Your ‘property managers’ are going to keep an eye on things (servers) and make sure your ‘neighbors’ (other customers) aren’t making life miserable. Kind of like a gated community: We’ll attempt to block intruders and abusive ‘renters’ who continually have a detrimental effect on their neighbors will be asked to ‘move out’.
“What about VPS. You do everything, right?”
Purchasing a VPS hosting plan is like purchasing a condominium. It’s still shared with others, but you’ll have more control over what happens in your ‘space’. Your hosting provider will provide you with the basics, and you can purchase addons such as a control panel, extra RAM, etc, but the concept of the apartment is still the same. What you do from there with your site space is up to you. Your web hosting provider will still keep an eye on things and make sure your neighbors are all playing nice, but the space you’re renting is yours to maintain and keep up to date.
“I get it. But what about a dedicated server? Surely you’ll do anything I want?”
Not quite. When you purchase a dedicated server plan it’s like renting a house. It’s bigger than an apartment, and you have all the control to do whatever you wish with the space. You can even invite your friends over for a party! But it’s totally yours to maintain and operate on your own.
Lets say you want maid service, lawn care, and extra security. You’d pay extra for these if renting a house, right? The same holds true for dedicated web hosting. You can purchase Managed Services of different levels depending on your needs and we’ll take care of things for you. I warn you though, we don’t do windows. (Get it??) (OK. OK. I lied. You can actually add on Windows OS for just $35 more on our dedicated hosting plans.) 🙂
“I only need an apartment (shared hosting). Can I at least pay you to help me out with some things?”
Sure. We can do script installations and even upgrades of third party products if you wish. There is a fee attached, but this type of support does not come standard with a non-managed hosting account.
In a nutshell, Web Hosting and renting an apartment is pretty similar. We’ll provide you fresh clean space to work with, and we’ll keep things running smoothly. We’ll even offer a few tools and perks to keep your new place shiny and sparkly, but it’s ultimately up to you to decide what you want on your site, where you’ll put things, and how.