John Chvatal is a web developer and photographer. He specializes in web development and photography for the aviation industry. In his free time he enjoys photographing aircraft, especially warbirds and flying with friends. He is also the founder and lead web developer at Trinity Aviation Solutions.

Are you confused by the dizzying array of web hosting products on the market? Even as a developer, the topic of web hosting can be confusing at times.

Every web host assembles their hosting packages differently. A straight apple to apple comparison is difficult.

The information in this blog post will help you make a better-informed web hosting decision for your aviation business.

Table of contents:

Definitions

Before I get into the different types of web hosting, here are some helpful definitions of technical terms that appear in this article.

Backup Plugin:

A backup plugin schedules and backs up your website. If anything were to go wrong, your site can be restored from a recent backup.

Caching:

Caching is the process of creating static versions of your pages and serving them to visitors. Static pages are rendered quickly in browsers. This leads to faster performance of your website.

CDN:

A CDN (Content Delivery Network) helps your website load faster and reduces the work the web server has to do.

Plugin:

A plugin is a piece of software containing a group of functions that can be added to a WordPress website. Adding a contact form requires a form plugin. Adding an e-commerce store requires multiple plugins. These are just two examples of how WordPress plugins add functionality to a website.

Security Plugin:

A security plugin periodically scans your site for malware. It enforces good security practices and includes a firewall to protect your site from malicious activity.

SSL Certificate:

An SSL certificate provides a secure channel between two machines or devices operating over the internet or an internal network. One common example is when SSL is used to secure communication between a web browser and a web server. This turns a website’s address from HTTP to HTTPS, the ‘S’ standing for ‘secure’.

Staging Server:

A staging server is used to test updates before applying them to a live site.

Transactional Email Service:

WordPress uses the PHP mail function to send out emails. Many WordPress hosting providers do not have this function configured properly. Some even block it to make sure that their servers aren’t used to send spam. Transactional email services like SendGrid ensure the deliverability of emails sent from websites. A few examples of emails sent from a website are password reset emails, contact form messages, notifications for forum posts and receipts from e-commerce purchases.

Webmaster:

A webmaster is responsible for managing websites. They fix broken websites and provide comprehensive technical support to their clients. Typically webmasters offer this as a subscription.

US Navy T-6 Texan II aircraft sit in a tightly packed hangar.

Shared Web Hosting

Shared web hosting is the cheapest web hosting available. By design, it is the least secure and least reliable of the hosting types. Shared hosting can be a decent low-cost option for hosting a blog with some extra work on your part.

Shared Hosting… A Low-Cost Option

Because of the nature of shared hosting, a number of websites are stacked together. They are run on one operating system instance while sharing resources of a single server. It only takes one malware infected website to put yours at risk. Also, if a website sharing a server with your site has a spike in traffic, your site will be slowed down too.

To get better performance out of a website on shared hosting you must:

  • Install a backup plugin
  • Install a security plugin
  • Install an SSL certificate
  • Install a caching plugin
  • Configure Cloudflare CDN
  • Install a transactional email service
  • Perform updates regularly

Even after this additional work, there is no guarantee your website will stay secure or have fast load times. It is just a matter of time before you will run into problems with site speed and/or security.

There are many hidden costs associated with shared hosting. It can cost several hundred dollars to have a malware infected site cleaned up. You will need to purchase a backup plugin, caching plugin and a security plugin. Most web hosts charge extra for an SSL certificate.

Shared hosting comes with basic support. The support quality varies from web host to web host. You get what you pay for generally applies here. Look for web hosting reviews that do not push you to purchase hosting through their affiliate link. These reviews are then as unbiased as possible. Also, learn from Facebook Groups dedicated to the topic of web hosting.

The cost for shared hosting typically starts out around $5 per month.

Jetstar Airbus A320 in a hangar.

VPS Web Hosting

For a few dollars more per month, VPS (Virtual Private Server) web hosting is a nice step up from shared hosting. The main advantage of VPS hosting is that the website has access to dedicated server resources. Your website still resides on a server with other websites, but each website is running on its own virtual operating system instance.

VPS Hosting… Performance & Security

This virtual barrier between websites provides superior security and performance over what shared web hosting offers. As with shared hosting, you will have to put in some work to improve performance and security. However, VPS hosting is a great low-cost option for blogs, smaller news sites, and small businesses.

Like shared hosting, I recommend you do these things to further enhance performance and security:

  • Install a backup plugin
  • Install a security plugin
  • Install an SSL certificate
  • Install a caching plugin
  • Install a transactional email service
  • Configure Cloudflare CDN
  • Perform updates regularly

VPS hosting is capable of handling more traffic than shared hosting but is not for highly trafficked sites or sites that see large spikes in traffic. For these sites, dedicated or cloud hosting is a better fit.

Like shared hosting, VPS hosting providers may also offer some additional add-ons like SSL certificates and backups.

Dedicated and cloud hosting can get expensive for moderately sized sites with moderate amounts of traffic. VPS hosting can be a lower cost option. Often, it is best to retain the services of an experienced webmaster. They can help you select the right hosting package and keep the site secure and running smoothly.

As with shared hosting, look at web host reviews and join a Facebook group dedicated to web hosting. Watch out for those who pressure you to use their affiliate code to purchase web hosting they recommend.

The cost for VPS hosting typically starts out around $10 per month.

Passenger airliner overhead with clouds. Surrounded by sky scrapers.

Cloud Web Hosting

Cloud web hosting is a type of hosting that has recently become more accessible to consumers and small businesses. In a nutshell, cloud hosting is a network of servers that work in unison to serve up web pages requested by visitors.

Cloud Hosting… Reliability, Speed, & Security

By design, cloud hosting has great redundancy. Copies of your website are synced to multiple servers. If a server goes down, the other servers will pick up the slack. This is all managed automatically by the hosting provider.

Let’s say a blog post of yours gets a ton of shares on social media. With cloud hosting, your website’s server resources automatically scale up to efficiently serve more visitors.

An important consideration when selecting a cloud host is their reputation. Cloud hosting is not as secure as dedicated hosting but is plenty secure for most websites, even e-commerce websites.

It is important to select a managed cloud hosting package. I will go more into what managed hosting is in a bit. If you opt for the unmanaged cloud hosting route, I would strongly advise finding someone experienced in unmanaged cloud hosting. Using unmanaged cloud hosting means more responsibility is placed on you and your webmaster to ensure your site is secure.

In my opinion, managed cloud hosting hits the sweet spot for cost, reliability, speed, and security of small to medium-sized businesses. It is also a great option for websites ranging from small blogs to large e-commerce websites.

The cost for cloud hosting typically starts out around $25 per month.

Gulfstream G650 business jet on approach to land.

Dedicated Web Hosting

Dedicated web hosting, as the name suggests is the dedication of a server and its resources to a single website. Dedicated hosting is a great option for highly trafficked websites and websites that contain sensitive data such as medical records.

Dedicated Hosting… For Best Speed & Security

At a foundational level, this physical compartmentalization provides the best security out of all the web hosting types. At the foundational level, the server may be secure but security is also dependent on the code used to build the website.

With dedicated web hosting comes flexibility. When ordering dedicated web hosting, it is possible to customize the hardware (CPU, RAM, etc.).

Reliability (uptime) is a toss-up between cloud hosting and dedicated hosting. Cloud hosting has great redundancy built in but there is always the possibility of service outages. Dedicated hosting is more straightforward (less that can go wrong). With that being said, a website on dedicated hosting is more vulnerable to be taken offline if the server breaks down.

The cost for dedicated hosting typically starts out around $120 per month.

Pilot and Copilot taking off from Smaland Airport, Växjö, Sweden. Photo byJon Flobrant.

Managed Web Hosting

Managed web hosting is where things get interesting. Managed hosting is not so a specific type of hosting. It provides an added layer of service with premium features. Managed web hosts also take on a more active role in managing and maintaining web servers.

Managed Hosting… Support, Speed, Security & Premium Features

Managed hosting can really be any of the previously mentioned web hosting types or something more proprietary. Managed web hosts offer premium support and a number of features that you would normally need to purchase separately.

Managed web hosts may include these features in their managed web hosting packages:

  • SSL certificate
  • CDN
  • Server level caching
  • Staging server
  • Automated backups
  • WordPress core updates
  • Transactional email service

Because they are all different, it is important to compare managed web hosting packages. Since you are paying a premium for managed hosting, support is a big deal. You should expect a higher level of service from a managed web host.

There is a minor downside to some managed web hosts. You must use a separate email provider like GSuite. However, hosting email on a website server takes up space that could be used for the website. Google has gotten really good at filtering out spam and ensuring the deliverability of emails you send. Also, GSuite is not only an email service, but they also include a suite of productivity tools with built-in team collaboration.

There is managed web hosting specifically available for WordPress called managed WordPress hosting. This type of web hosting is specifically tuned to maximize the performance of WordPress websites.

The cost for managed hosting typically starts out around $10 per month but most start out in the $25+ range.

Webmasters Are Invaluable

John Chvatal, founder of Trinity Aviation Solutions, lead web developer, and aviation photographer.
John Chvatal, founder of Trinity Aviation Solutions, lead web developer, and aviation photographer.

Managed hosting is not an excuse to fire your webmaster. Managed hosting offloads some of the more foundational tasks onto the web host. The web host knows their servers best and your webmaster knows the configuration of your website best.

Your webmaster is like a captain. He/she is responsible for keeping your site up-to-date. He/she will also fix your broken website and provide technical support beyond what a web host is capable of providing.

The web host is like a co-pilot. The co-pilot keeps the engines (server) humming along. If necessary, the pilot and co-pilot can work together to troubleshoot issues that come along. Two heads are better than one.

A good webmaster will help you choose the best hosting package according to your needs. He/she will often have acquired developer licenses for themes, plugins, and services that can be used to build and maintain your site. Developer licenses cost more up-front, but can be used on unlimited websites. This alone can be worth contracting with a webmaster.

Wrapping Up

I’ve used a variety of web hosting types from shared hosting to VPS hosting to cloud hosting from a handful of web hosts. I have no problem using or recommending unmanaged web hosting. However, I believe managed web hosting is a must for any website that is used as a marketing tool for you and your business.

It would not be advisable to cheap out on aircraft maintenance. The same is true with web hosting. I would avoid shared hosting. It is only a matter of time before you will have problems.

VPS hosting, cloud hosting, and dedicated hosting have their pluses and minuses. It comes down to what is best for a particular website.

Here at Trinity Aviation Solutions, we recommend and use Flywheel (affiliate link) for most websites we build. Flywheel hosting comes standard with all the website service plans we offer.

Flywheel is a managed WordPress cloud host built on Google Cloud infrastructure. They offer excellent support. They also include quite a few premium features in every hosting package they offer. Some of the features they offer are SSL certificates, CDN, caching, backups, WordPress updates, and a staging server.

Web hosting is a complex topic. This article barely scratches the surface. If you have any questions related to web hosting, leave a comment and I’d be happy to answer it! If you found this article useful, please share it with someone who could benefit from it.