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Debunking Myths About Hosting Providers

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02.11.2023
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Myth #1: Renting a server is a more reliable and secure service than regular hosting

In articles comparing hosting and server rental, you often read that one of the advantages of a server is greater reliability and data security. This is explained by the fact that with regular hosting, all accounts are placed on one server and can influence each other. Furthermore, it is claimed that if one account is hacked, the hacker can gain access to all the others. Such articles also mention that in the case of one site experiencing increased traffic, it can slow down all its "neighbors" (for example, if one site experiences increased traffic due to an advertising campaign or a DDoS attack).

Perhaps this was closer to the truth at some point. However, modern technologies allow for the separation of client accounts on hosting, making them as autonomous as possible. This means that if malicious users compromise one account, they won't be able to access others. In the event of a site experiencing increased traffic, it will not consume more resources than allotted by the hosting plan. If such an issue occurs, our technical support will simply recommend the client to upgrade to a more spacious plan.

In reality, virtual hosting, VPS, and dedicated server services all cater to different user needs, offering varying resource capacities and customization options. All service types are highly reliable and secure, as providers have no interest in selling subpar products.

It's also essential to note that the mere act of renting a server does not safeguard your data from hacking. Users must take care of their security by setting strong passwords, using firewalls, antivirus programs, and other protective tools, monitoring server performance, and keeping software up to date.

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Myth #2: To achieve fast website performance, it's necessary to host it in a location close to the target audience

Frequently, it's claimed that site load times are delayed when hosting servers are located in other countries. Therefore, authors recommend using hosting servers located as close as possible to the target audience, preferably in the same country. This is only partially true.

The modern internet is so fast that these delays are minimal and do not significantly affect website performance. Of course, there are exceptions. For instance, if your server is in the United States and your target audience is in Europe, and your provider does not use a high-speed internet backbone to connect to Europe, there may be noticeable delays that customers and site crawlers may notice. However, this is not a typical situation.

Most Ukrainian providers have servers abroad, and companies offer clients the choice of server location. For example, Cityhost's dedicated servers are located in Ukraine and Germany, while their hosting servers are in Germany, Finland, and Ukraine. Sites hosted on these servers load quickly in different countries.

Myth #3: VPS and VDS are two different types of servers

Someone started this myth on the internet, and now copywriters perpetuate it from article to article, keeping the myth alive. Some articles even provide a convoluted explanation of the difference in virtualization methods between these two types of servers, claiming one relies on hardware virtualization while the other uses software virtualization. In reality, these terms are synonymous.

VPS and VDS servers are no different

VPS stands for Virtual Private Server, and VDS stands for Virtual Dedicated Server. The meaning behind these terms is the same: a client's personal virtual server allocated based on the resources of a physical server. The difference in terminology is primarily due to regional preferences. VPS is more commonly used in the Western world, while VDS is prevalent in the post-Soviet space. Since we are at the crossroads, these two abbreviations can confuse users.

Myth #4: Hosting providers should take care of the security of hosted websites

Hosting providers are responsible for the operation and technical functionality of servers, providing users with security toolkits. However, the primary responsibility for protecting the website and ensuring its proper functioning lies with the user.

Our technical support often encounters situations where clients expect the hosting provider to be responsible for issues like the presence of viruses on their website or slow loading speeds. For example, a webmaster installs a new plugin on their WordPress site, which has a vulnerability. Hackers exploit this vulnerability to hack the site, steal confidential data, or install malicious software. In such cases, the hosting provider can, at most, scan the site for threats and notify the client of potential dangers. However, they do not have the obligations or authority to clean the site of viruses.

Viruses on the site have nothing to do with hosting problems

User accounts on a hosting provider's platform are well protected from external interference to the extent that even the technical support team cannot access the site's file system.

Clients often have expectations that the hosting company should assist with website design, SEO optimization, or address issues related to incorrect code execution. However, these matters are solely the responsibility of the website owner.

Let's provide a simple comparison. Imagine buying a "bare walls" apartment where you need to perform renovations, install doors, heating, and more. This is similar to hosting. If you install a weak door or choose a contractor who installs low-quality windows with gaps, you wouldn't hold the property developer responsible for these issues. Interior design, functional furniture, plumbing, security, and convenient appliances are all the concerns of the property owner.

This is quite a complex topic, and we have written a separate article about how hosting provider technical support works and what obligations they have towards users. We also recommend reading an article on how to secure a WordPress site to protect yourself from the situations described above.

Myth #5: Hosting providers should monitor content and block explicit or prohibited material

In reality, hosting providers do not actively monitor the content of websites because it is physically impossible to do so, given the thousands of web resources hosted on their servers. However, hosting terms of service include a list of prohibited content themes and file types. If the provider becomes aware of a violation of these rules, they will communicate with the client to have the restricted content removed or block the site if it involves a severe violation (e.g., explicit content or drugs). This usually happens in response to user complaints. If you come across a site with inappropriate or illegal content, you can find contact information for filing a complaint using the Whois service and send an email to the provided address.

For more information about prohibited content on hosting, please refer to this article: XXX-files: what can and what is prohibited to host?

Myth #6: Administering a server is very difficult

Many of our clients are not developers or system administrators. They often include entrepreneurs creating simple business websites, creative individuals showcasing their portfolios, amateur bloggers, and representatives of non-profit organizations. Hosting services are designed so that even individuals with limited technical knowledge can learn to manage them quickly.

Clients like these can easily grasp hosting management with the help of support advice and FAQ instructions but often feel uncertain when the need to rent a server arises.

But clients can easily manage virtual and dedicated servers without using console commands. Modern control panels, such as Hestia or FastPanel, provide visual interfaces for server management, offering buttons and logically structured steps for performing essential configurations. Using these control panels is almost as straightforward as managing regular hosting. We have many guides on our website explaining how to manage VPS and dedicated servers, and if necessary, clients can also purchase additional server administration services for a fee.

If you lack the knowledge or the means to hire a professional sysadmin, this should not deter you from scaling your project.

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Businesses, personal brands, creative endeavors, and startups all require an online presence to connect with their target audiences. A website is one of the best solutions for this purpose, providing more freedom than social media platforms with their numerous rules, post blocking without explanations, and other inconveniences.

Hosting services are designed to be user-friendly, even for individuals with limited technical knowledge. Many of the difficulties, misconceptions, and fears encountered by beginners arise from a lack of information and the prevalence of unverified myths and legends. We hope this article contributes to a better understanding of how hosting providers operate.


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Author: Bohdana Haivoronska

Journalist (since 2003), IT copywriter (since 2013), content marketer at Cityhost.ua. Specializes in articles about technology, creation and promotion of sites.

Technical consultant: Andrii Zarovinskyi

Head of Technical Support at Cityhost, author of instructional materials in the FAQ. Trains technical support staff and helps to solve the most complex customer requests.