So you want to make a website? Get ready to start making a LOT of decisions. What will be discussed here are my opinions (yours may vary) on the underlying “machine” -the ‘foundation’ of your website. There are many things to decide and this is certainly not an exhaustive list.
Hosting Service vs Virtual Machine
Hosting services is where someone else manages the infrastructure and you manage your website. It gives you a place to put your site and a nice user interface to control things “around” it. You can point and click your way through purchasing ssl certificates, configuring email, adding IP addresses, etc -all using an easy to use GUI. If you have a website and are just starting out, this is a good way to go. A managed virtual machine or ‘VM’, will give you much more control over your site at the OS level, but comes at a cost. If you are handy with whatever OS you chose to host your site, you might give it a go. You will also need to decide things like, how many CPU cores do I need, how much memory, what bandwidth, disk space needs, etc. Other things to consider: Using other companies to host your site. There are many companies on the web that will house your site for free if you allow them to advertise. If you just want to blog, you might want to check out some of the sites that allow you to set up a free blogging site.
Managed vs UN-Managed services.
Managed services are easy to work with. Much of the underlying service is already set up and you only have to worry about working with a cPanel to configure your site. However, as I stated above a managed service is more expensive than an unmanaged service. For many, it is worth the cost of not having to deal with all of the complex configuration that come with an unmanaged service. Unmanaged services means, in a nutshell, here is the bare virtual server, start installing stuff (starting with the OS). This is a fantastic choice for the experienced Linux/Windows admin, but if you are not comfortable with this option, go with a managed service. My favorite part about unmanaged services is that it is dirt cheap. Look for coupons online before you buy and you can get a decent KVM VPS for around $10-$15/mo. Don’t forget to setup your own backups!!!
Linux OpenVZ vs KVM
I have used both and they are both very similar. OpenVZ is a Linux container which means you have space inside of a shared kernel. If you don’t have specific kernel requirements or need to access the console, this is a good option. Open VZ containers are usually a little cheaper than KVMs too. You even get root and can install your own binaries. KVMs are your own little virtualized server. You get a control panel and console access -just as if it were a physical server sitting in a datacenter. Unmanaged KVMs are slightly more expensive than containers, but to me, it’s worth it. It just “feels” like a real server to me more than a container. That flexibility of having console access is important to me. So, in a nutshell, here are my opinions: If you just want to write, use something thats already out there (wordpress, blogger, etc). If you are a new webmaster go with shared hosting. If you are somewhat experienced webmaster, but don’t want the hassle setting up and configuring everything (as explained in this series of articles), go with managed VPS. If you are a Linux/Windows hack and are up for the challenge and have some time to invest in running your site the way you want to run it, then go with unmanaged KVM or containers. if you are a technical control freak (like me), go with a Linux KVM. Hope this helps you chose the perfect server under your perfect website.