written by: Daniel Case•edited by: Eric Stallsworth•updated: 10/21/2010
This article will go through how you should be looking when you are shopping for Linux hosting services. I will give you various Linux options to consider and will also go through the differences between dedicated, virtual, and shared services.
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There are many Linux hosting plans on the internet but finding out which one is right for you depends on a lot of things. For one thing you are going to have decide if you are confident enough in Linux to set the entire server up yourself, in which case you want to be using either an unmanaged VPS or dedicated server. I am going to give you a basic overview for your consideration, and then I'll give you some examples that you can add to your shopping list.
If you are just after somewhere to host a simple website, then a shared server will be fine. On the other hand, If you are looking to host a very busy, large traffic website with a MySQL back-end, you will need a VPS or even a fully-dedicated server.
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To kick off this shopping guide, Linux shared hosting is just as the name describes; you share your server with many other people and many other websites. The main benefit of shared hosting is the fact that you can get it for a very cheap price - or even free - although I do not advise using a free host as a lot can vanish with your website overnight.
The main disadvantage of shared hosting is the fact that you share all of your resources with tens if not hundreds of other people. This means that if someone has high SQL connection usage, with a heavy load your website will suffer by a couple of seconds. Some great examples of Linux shared hosting services are hostgator and justhost.
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Linux VPS Hosting
VPS hosting is often thought of as an intermediate step between shared and dedicated hosting. A VPS is a private server where you have administrative or root access, but it runs on a host machine with lots of other VPS's. A VPS is a bit more powerful than a shared hosting server and you can usually run other services such as IRC and even a small game server.
It is important to stress that it is only a virtual server, so it can't run massive scale databases and websites because you are still sharing your connection with others. But you now have a dedicated amount of resources to use on your server. VPS's are especially good for developers and testers on applications. Hostgator also has a VPS setup, but if want a UK setup from a friendly administrator, I would personally advise Bitfolk (who I currently host my websites with; set your referral to "chatify" if you would like to sign up).
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Linux Dedicated Hosting Services
Dedicated hosting is the grand daddy of all hosting packages. It is quite expensive but certainly worth the money if you have a great need for it. Dedicated hosting is often needed for big projects and websites, with lots of media and traffic where a VPS or a shared host would suffer greatly.
Hostgator have managed dedicated servers, but they can be quite expensive so you need a large budget. Other dedicated hosts include Fasthosts and Serverbeach, which includes servers in all locations including the UK and Texas. Dedicated servers are a must if you have resource-intensive services running, such as a large IRC network or a highly active game server - basically anything which is going to rely on the server a lot.
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Hopefully by reading this article, you now have a better idea of the right Linux hosting plan for you. If you are just starting out, the cheapest and best option for you is always to use shared hosting. You will know when your site becomes too big, and you can then look at your options for an upgrade.
There are of course many more hosts than I have mentioned here, and I urge you to look at current reviews to help you decide which host (once you have decided on the hosting type) is right for your needs. If you have any issues or just want to raise a question, feel free to comment below.