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Not all hosting types are created equal. If you are just starting a site, you may be able to get by with a shared host. As your site grows, so will your technical requirements to support the accompanying influx of new visitors. Leave room for eventual hosting upgrades should your site make significant gains in popularity.

Slow website performance can affect how much of your site gets crawled. It can also affect the search engine index freshness of your pages. The following subsections dis- cuss some of the most popular hosting options, including free, shared, collocation, comanaged, managed, and internal hosting. Free hosting Many free hosts are available on the Internet. Some come with banner ads plastered over your site, while others are genuinely free, with no ads forced on your site. At the time of this writing, I can find hundreds of free hosting providers with the help of a simple Google search.

Free Hosting

The problems with free hosts are multifold. First, there is usually some sort of catch to make you upgrade to paid (shared) hosting. The catch comes in the form of a limitation, such as insufficient space, limited website bandwidth, an insufficient number of email accounts, or insufficient database support. You are typically limited to a single domain or a subdomain, and sometimes you are prohibited from placing ads. If you must use free hosts, read the fine print and try several vendors to see what fits your requirements.

From an SEO perspective, you should avoid free hosts. Tens of thousands of sites might be sitting on the same physical server while being served from the same IP (which is the case to a lesser extent with shared hosting). All it takes is for one of the sites to be a source of spam (web, email, etc.) for the whole IP to get banned. Make no mistake: Google and others do index sites sitting on free hosts.

Shared hosting

Shared hosting is also known as virtual hosting. Shared hosting (just like free hosting) uses virtual IPs to host multiple domains on the same web server. Some shared hosting providers will offer a dedicated IP as part of a package or as a paid add-on. This option should be on your list of add-ons from an SEO perspective.

Shared hosting is a benefit for new sites on a budget. Typically, you can get an account set up for a few dollars per month. Recently, many shared hosting providers began including unlimited space, unlimited MySQL databases, unlimited bandwidth, un- limited emails, and hosting of unlimited domains in their package price. Many good shared hosting providers are available.

Shared hosting comes in many variations. The vast majority of shared hosting providers offer the PHP/CGI/MySQL platform. This is followed closely by Windows-based shared hosting with ASP.NET. Next in line is Java/Tomcat hosting, which is typically the most expensive of the three combinations.

In addition to these benefits, shared hosting comes with several drawbacks. For in- stance, one site could leach all of your CPU cycles, making the response times of all other sites unacceptable. Good hosts have checks in place to handle this situation. This usually involves shutting down the culprit site. Now, if your site is the culprit, you are typically asked to clean up your site while access to your site is completely blocked. This is not a good situation, as your site will show a message from your hosting provider asking you to contact them to clean the offending script. Do you want web spiders crawling this page?

Running your site in the same IP neighborhood as another spam site could be harmful, and not just from a search engine perspective. Diligent hosting providers regularly scan their clients’ sites for copyright violations and spam.

Dedicated server hosting

Dedicated server hosting is the next level in hosting. It is ideal for small businesses. There are numerous benefits to dedicated server hosting. You get a server all to yourself in addition to a much better service-level agreement (SLA).

Dedicated servers come preconfigured with all sorts of features on Linux or Windows. These include remote reboots, redundant power and network availability, and phone support, among other features. You can also use multiple IP addresses on the same box if you want to host multiple domains with their own separate IPs.

Collocation hosting

Collocation hosting involves placing your server hardware within your provider’s data room. This arrangement is useful if you want to enjoy the benefits of your provider’s Internet network backbone while still being able to manage your box in any way you like.

You can assign permissions to specific individuals within your organization to have physical access to your servers to perform administration and related support activities. Another benefit of collocation is power redundancy, which you would rarely have at your small-business office.

Collocation makes sense when you have nonstandard applications requiring fast In- ternet connections that only you know how to manage. For collocation hosting, use local providers in your area. The last thing you need is to drive two hours when your server goes down.

Comanaged and managed hosting

Large organizations typically seek comanaged and managed hosting arrangements. In managed hosting, the provider assumes most of the hosting responsibility. The onus is mostly (if not entirely) on the provider to ensure that everything is running smoothly at all times, as per the SLA. Comanaged hosting is a bit different. In this scenario, the provider typically takes care of the network infrastructure, hardware, and operating system (patching) while the client manages the applications. As you may imagine, managed hosting is more expensive than comanaged hosting.

Internal hosting

With internal hosting, your internal staff is responsible for most of the technical troubleshooting. Big companies typically have data rooms and multiple infrastructure and development teams managing all layers of their underlying IT architecture. Smaller companies typically lease DSL or fiber lines. Internal hosting is usually employed for systems that carry sensitive information, such as databases and filesystems.

Many small and large organizations employ virtual private servers (VPSs). The concept stems from mainframe computers in which one physical piece of hardware is logically partitioned to provide completely separate (virtual) servers. Each virtual server can run its own separate operating system that can be rebooted without affecting other virtual servers.