There are many levels of hosting service available but this article will focus on the three primary distinctions. Your business requirements will ultimately determine the best website hosting environment for your particular situation.
1. Shared hosting is when your website “shares” server resources with other websites on the same server. The server may have hundreds or even thousands of other websites hosted along with yours. Shared hosting normally comes with an extensive list of services and options for effectively managing your website. Shared hosting is the least expensive and probably the most common option.
2. Dedicated hosting means that you are assigned exclusive use of a server and given full control over it. This means you will have “root access” for Linux servers or “administrator access” for Windows. You are fully responsible for all security and maintenance of the server. The server ownership is retained by the service provider. Dedicated hosting gives you much greater freedom but the risks are also much greater. Security is not something to take lightly or shrug off. An improperly managed server will eventually be compromised (hacked) causing untold grief and expense. Dedicated hosting is more expensive than shared hosting.
3. Managed hosting, also known as managed services, is similar to dedicated hosting except that the service provider will perform the server security and maintenance tasks. In order to ensure quality service you may not be granted root or administrator access. The reason being that an inexperienced administrator could change settings that would cause the server to be compromised (hacked) or crash. Another option would be to lease a dedicated server from the service provider and then hire your own administrator. The end result is still a fully managed server except that by hiring the administrator yourself, you gain a little better control. Managed services give you the most freedom with the best security, but this is also the most expensive type of hosting available.