The internet entertains more than a billion users each day. Whether using this advanced technology for work, school, or pure entertainment, all of this information will be found on websites. Websites are the virtual replicas of brick-and-mortar stores that used to attract visitors on a daily basis. In addition to visiting these websites, many people have a reason to start one of their own. Whether you're starting a site to promote make money or write a personal blog, there are some important steps to consider before beginning.
If you're planning on running a website, you probably understand the complex coding skills that are required to build one from scratch. Although a few basic lines of code can build the structure of a site, it takes more time to learn the advanced functionalities to which users have become accustomed. Fortunately, there are many available options that can help you publish content quicker. With these options, you can skip the complex task of coding a web platform from scratch. Before moving forward with this choice, it's important to understand the distinction between two fundamental options: self-hosted and hosted solutions.
Here are the main differences between the two that should be considered in the decision-making process.
Should I Use a Self-Hosted or Hosted Web Platform?
Before you start a website, you have to first choose between a self-hosted or hosted web platform. You can't start publishing any brand content online before making this decision. In short, if you select a hosted option, you will be trading customizability for simplicity and ease of use.
Hosted platforms provide an easy and quick way for people to start publishing their content online without having to mess with servers or managing upgrades. Hosted platforms also provide a boost in performance and reliability as everything is centrally managed. Research by Australian hosting review site Aussie Hosting shows that managed platforms operate over 30% better with increased security less downtime.
On the other hand, self-hosted platforms offer superior customization for manipulating style and functions to meet your personal requirements. While hosted platforms have limitations on what can be changed, self-hosted platforms have essentially limitless possibilities. At first, self-hosting platforms may seem like the obvious answer due to their overall personalization. However, these options require much more work and preparation.
Here are a few questions to consider about your needs before deciding on one option.
- Do I need to have my site published immediately, or do I have some time to prepare?
- Are there any special functionalities that will be required on my site?
- Will I need access at the code-level for my site?
- Will I need customer support around-the-clock to help support my site?
- How much money am I willing to spend on a monthly basis to keep my site running properly?
After you've answered these questions thoroughly, you can start taking into account the main differences between hosted and self-hosted platforms.
The Main Differences Between Hosted and Self-Hosted Platforms
Even though the names sound rather similar, there are some major differences between hosted and self-hosted platforms. Self-hosted platforms are popular amongst detail-oriented web designers who are well-versed in coding and are willing to take extra time when building the site. On the other hand, hosted platforms are popular amongst business owners and other individuals who need the functionality of a site and don't want to have their content published as soon as possible. People who choose the hosted options aren't worried about having control over every little detail for their site. In fact, most of these people wouldn't even know how to make these code-level edits if the option was there.
Publications, bloggers, and business owners all love the ease and simplicity of hosted platforms. With these providers, you'll be able to have a blog or e-commerce site running in seconds. You won't have to worry about security or updates. You'll also be able to choose new layouts without having to leave the site. However, in comparison to self-hosted options, you'll be severely limited in the manipulation of your site. With this choice, you're giving up some freedom in exchange for simplicity and speed.
Pros of Hosted Platforms
- Easy to set up
- Helpful support staff
- Constantly updating
- Managed servers
- Connected to other bloggers
Cons of Hosted Platforms
- Limited plugins and themes
- No access at the code-level
- No way to upload plugins and themes
For many site owners and bloggers, the limited plugins and themes aren't an issue. This is especially true for people who don't understand coding. The support teams will be able to handle any major problems you experience.
Any site owners that require a specific design or robust functionality will have to choose a self-hosted platform. With this option, you'll be able to access thousands of different themes and plugins. Uploading these onto your site will be as simple as the click of a button. You can even create your own functionalities if needed. Self-hosted platforms are the obvious choice for developers who need a customized site.
Pros of Self-Hosted Platforms
- Massive library of plugins and themes
- Access at the code-level
- Ability to customize everything
Cons of Self-Hosted Platforms
- Managing a server
- Installing and upgrading the platform
- Conflicts with plugins
- Support through forums only
Self-hosted platforms offer a greater level of customization to hosted options. With some extra effort and knowledge, you can tweak every aspect of a site to meet your specific needs and desires. This is a great option for site owners who require unique functions and designs that may not be possible on hosted platforms. Although there is some extra work involved in self-hosted platforms, it isn't as scary as some make it out to be. For those looking to go this route, Digital Ocean is a great choice.
Managed websites are the better option when you're a newbie looking to setup your first website. They offer a lot of features simplified by one click installs and user guides. If you're going the self hosted route be prepared for a lot more work.