Whether you're starting a new project, or simply trying to understand how to improve the infrastructure of a current project, you will need to choose your hosting solution. The range of hosting offers out there is vast and may look complex for those who don’t know the proper lingo. It basically boils down to abstraction layers that add up on security, scalability, and automation.

To help you navigate more clearly, here is a breakdown of all the main hosting solutions to arm yourself with in order to make the best decision that is right for you.

What is a dedicated server?

A dedicated server is exactly what its name implies: a single server all to yourself, that you control. You rent it by the month and have nothing more or less than what it does. The server is deployed, hosted, and managed by a cloud provider, but you get full control over it. It works like an in-house server, except that it is physically hosted in the data center of your provider: you connect to it remotely, and can use it to host any applications and or services, or use it to store data or to back up services.

What is a shared server?

They are a cheaper alternative to dedicated servers, and most websites start with one before exceeding a limit and expand to VPS or dedicated servers.

A shared server allows multiple websites or web services to be hosted on a single server. It isn’t the best option if you are looking for performance and flexibility as you won't be able to configure everything yourself because you'll have to share the configuration with other users. However, it is plenty sufficient for personal websites and very small businesses.

What are Bare Metal servers?

​​Bare Metal shares a lot of common features with dedicated hosting, but there are two main differences. First, Bare Metal is billed by the hour which enables more flexibility. Second, the servers are generally integrated with Cloud products.

There is no minimum commitment when you start your Bare Metal server, and you are only billed for what you have consumed - the server can be powered off when you are not using it, or easily deleted once you are done. They are ideal for large workloads, big data, and applications that require increased security and dedicated resources, and it allows you to get a very powerful server for a punctual need without having to rent it for a long time.

What is a Virtual Private Server (VPS)?

VPS, for Virtual Private Server, uses virtualization to give you a dedicated and private space by simulating the dedicated server experience, but on a server that is physically shared with others.

Basically, a parent server runs several VPS instances that are operated independently from one another. This allows you to have a more secure and stable solution than a shared server, while not paying for a fully dedicated space.

What are Virtual Machines?

Virtual Machines, also called instances, allows infrastructure architects to choose and configure the requirements of their infrastructure for more flexibility and scalability.

The idea is to isolate your application running on the same physical server, providing an additional security layer and better resource allocation.

Virtual Machines VS Dedicated servers

The difference between the two can be tricky - where an VM takes only a few seconds to be deployed and started, the dedicated server will take a few more minutes to do so.

Instances, or VMs, have an abstraction layer that provides for better fault tolerance.  For example, where a dedicated server will let you know when something is down, like a hardware issue, instances will automatically switch to another server in a way that won’t be noticeable (less than a second).

…So what should I choose?

You got it: the choice is vast and all yours. There isn’t a generic better choice - it all comes down to your needs, your willingness to spend time on your infrastructure and how your application will evolve.

In most cases though, it might be more interesting to choose a hosting solution that can be integrated with cloud products to be proactive on your future (or current) needs. Lucky for you, if you need help choosing the right architecture, we have amazing an amazing team to help.

You’re also welcome to join our community on Slack, where you’ll get to connect with thousands of developers that might have faced the exact same choice as you.

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