Understand the types of Hosting. Know the distinctions between shared, collocated, unmanaged dedicated, and managed dedicated hosting so you can choose the one that is right for your business. It is crucial to understand the difference between the types of hosting offered. As the hosting industry has matured, hosting offers have split into several distinct categories, each with its own strengths and weaknesses.
Shared hosting (sometimes called virtual hosting), means that you are sharing one server with a number of other clients of that company. The host manages the server almost completely (though you maintain your site and your account). They can afford to charge you little since many clients are paying for use of the server. However, companies other than yours are using the resources of that server. That means heavy traffic to one of the other sites on the server can really hammer the performance of your site. Also, you are typically not able to install special software programs on these types of machines, because the host will need to keep a stable environment for all of the clients using the server.
Collocated hosting means that you purchase a server from a hardware vendor, like Dell or HP for example, and you supply this server to the host. The host will then plug your server into its network and its redundant power systems. The host is responsible for making sure its network is available, and you are responsible for all support and maintenance of your server. Good hosters will offer management contracts to their collocation clients so that you can outsource much of the support to them and come to an arrangement similar to managed dedicated hosting (see below). Most collocation hosts do not offer this service, however.
hosting is very similar to collocation, except that you lease a server from a host and do not actually own it yourself. Some very limited support (typically Web-based only) is included, but the level of support varies widely from unmanaged dedicated host to unmanaged dedicated host. This type of server can be had for around $99/month. Support levels are typically only provided in general terms.Ask the host to go into specifics about what support they will provide — e.g.,will they apply security patches to your server? — before signing up. This service is typically good for gaming servers (like Doom or Counterstrike servers) or hobbyist servers, but not for serious businesses that need responsive, expert-level service.
Managed dedicated hosting means leasing a server from a host and having that company provide a robust level of support and maintenance on the server that is backed by quality guarantees. This maintenance typically includes services such as server uptime monitoring, a hardware warranty, security patch updates, and more. Be sure your managed dedicated host gives you specifics about the managed services included so that you can be sure they are not disguising an unmanaged dedicated offering as a managed dedicated server. This has been known to happen, unfortunately, which is why it is important to do your homework and ask the right questions.