So, you’ve got this great idea for a website, and you’ve registered that magical domain name you’ve always been dreaming of. Now comes the question, should you host your website yourself, or go with shared hosting?
When making this decision, keep in mind that hosting your own server requires knowledge, time, and effort to run smoothly. If you don’t want to learn how to be a system administrator, or have the time to put into server upkeep, then I’d recommend just going for shared hosting. However, if you really want to run your own server, then your options really open up.
Another part of your decision should include what you actually plan to do with your website. If you plan on running a blog, or other type of non-intensive site, then shared hosting as well as a VPS would work. A VPS can be cheaper, and would give you more control of what web server you can use. If you plan on running a heavy web app, then I would highly recommend going with a VPS or dedicated server if your budget allows. A dedicated server is a full server just to yourself, this allows you to use all of the hardware resources you need to with your intensive web app. You would also be able to use any software you need for your web app to run. A VPS also allows you to run most software and operating systems for your web app to function, however you must keep in mind that you are sharing hardware resources with others.
Really, the big difference between shared hosting, VPS’ and dedicated servers is the amount of flexibility they provide. Shared hosting usually provides the least amount of flexibility, as you must use the OS, web server, and versions of software the host provides. You can’t tweak every configuration that you can with a VPS or dedicated server. Abuse on a shared host will also cause more issues then the other options as all resources are shared. VPS’ provide a lot more flexibility and more dedicated hardware resources. As a VPS is your own private virtual server, you can choose what OS and software you want to run on it. And if a feature isn’t made available by the host machine, your VPS host usually can enable it for you unlike shared hosting. Abuse on a VPS is still an issue, however it is usually mitigated quickly and causes less disruption then on a shared host. Dedicated servers provide the most flexibility, as you get a whole server just to you. This means you can run whatever you want on it, and utilize 100% of the hardware resources 24/7.
What do I recommend overall? For people planning to run a blog, or small web app, and have the knowledge, time, and effort to put into server upkeep; a VPS will almost always be the best choice. For those with more specific needs, or plan on running resource intensive applications; a dedicated server will be the better tool for the job. For everyone else, including those with little knowledge in Linux or web servers, and just want to run a blog with no fuss, shared hosting might just be the best choice.
If you do plan on going with a VPS, I can highly recommend RamNode (Affiliate Link, using it helps me pay for hosting).