Thoughts – What is the future of web hosting?

Once upon a time not all that long ago, if you wanted to have a website online, you did a quick search for a hosting provider, settled for a £5/$7 a month shared hosting package which gave a meagre 500mb of storage, 5 pop email accounts and a mySQL database. If you were lucky, you got 1gb monthly bandwidth and 10 ftp accounts to access all that 500mb with…

The good news, times have changed for shared hosting! Well actually I lie, everything’s relevant, now instead of sharing a server with 100 other sites its now more like 1,000 and that “unlimited” space is subject to a fair use policy of around 5gb.

Then there are VPS packages, in my experience are generally woeful and unreliable. I run my sites from a dedicated server, it seamed like this was the most reliable way of hosting one or more sites, the trade off undoubtedly being price. Until now that is.

Cloud computing

You hear the phrase thrown about, its the new buzz word that shared hosting providers use for their site crammed boxes, but what does it actually mean?

Depending on who you talk to, it differs, my interpretation is one or more computers providing infrastructure remotely. My own experiences with cloud computing have been Media temple’s excellent grid service, which was around before the ‘cloud’ term was coined, and Amazon’s AWS.

With the introduction of Amazon’s EC2 service, I really struggle to see how users with higher end requirements can even consider a conventional service, VPN or dedicated server. Install a Ubuntu instance and every one of my tutorials (apart from pi specific performance ones) would work to get you up and running. When my renewal comes around on my dedicated box I will be making the jump!

Raspberry Pi

And then there’s the Raspberry Pi, the cheap little computer that is only going to get more powerful over time. When I created this site, it was a small personal experiment to see if it could run Apache2, it worked, so then came PHP and MySQL, yet again, no problems. Then came the question, can I reliably run a WordPress site from one? Yes, and this site serves 14,000 monthly visits, all on a Raspberry Pi (with some tweaking).

Home connections are getting quicker, people are more technologically savvy, and if I don’t write some program to set up a LAMP with control panel for the Raspberry Pi, its only a matter of time before someone else does.

This begs the question, with the giants of Amazon’s stature covering the high requirement market, and a £30 computer easily capable of covering the other with small businesses and individuals self-hosting, where do the likes of Fasthosts, 1&1, easyspace etc fit in, in the future? What are your thoughts? Sound them below!


Web Developer living in Manchester, working for Studio Skylab ( Views and thoughts are my own.

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5 Responses

  1. Tim Chapman says:

    I currenlty have 4 domains hosted with godaddy. I pay roughly $200 dollars a year for some what unreliable hosting though that does included the domain names. And currently pay $40 a month for home ADSL2.

    I have also tried installing a raspberrypi server with your tutorial and got it up and running and seems very reliable with (from obsevation) often faster response times than godaddy. I am thinking of buying two second hand lower power servers one for linux hosting and one for windows and doing my own hosting. If any of my ideas take of beyond hobbies I can then go back to “Proper” hosting.

    My veiw on this is that internet is only going to get faster in coming years, especially here in australia with our governemtns NBN program. And it makes much more use of a service I am already paying for. I enjoy the maintanence side of it, even if there is some down time while I learn and play.


    • Ste W says:

      A trick with GoDaddy is to google ‘cheap domains’ and click their sponsored link, it gives a reduction to your registration pricing ;-). I use Godaddy for domains, and for them I think they’re pretty good but not had any experience with their hosting, but I have heard some stories!

      In terms of low-cost servers, the Raspberry Pi’s do a good job, providing some kind of caching is in place. I find WordPress is slow without the help of Quick Cache, but not to the point of being unusable. I recently bought an Intel NUC with a view to testing its capabilities where it comes to hosting, possibly running Plesk on it and seeing how it copes with a few moderate traffic sites. It cost including the extra components needed around £280, which isn’t far off the monthly fee for the dedicated server, the key yet again will be in the connection. I don’t expect the unit itself to struggle being an i3 powered bit of kit.

      I really think there could be a future in ‘home hosting’, like you say, connections are getting quicker and more reliable. Governments are now appreciating the importance of investing in infrastructure, which is a little overdue in our case here in the UK but at least things are moving. Despite me living in Liverpool City Centre, and less than a mile from Liverpool Central telephone exchange, there’s no fibre, only ADSL2 and the upload speed of 1m just isn’t enough. My Raspberry Pi is over in Cheshire where the fibre network gives a 15m up, which is more than enough for this site.

      What kind of speed are they hoping to get from the NBN program? We’ve got a similar government-backed project over here where they’re making a (minimal) contribution to BT’s fibre network, speeds vary between 30-100mbit depending on where you are, uploads typically being 10mbit.

  2. Benjamin Franklin says:

    I live in Australia. Where the NBN is already currently rolled out, you can receive 100/40mb plans (down/up) via Fibre To The Premise. That’s changing to 1gb download either by the end of this year or sometime next year. But, if the coalition gets it’s way, we’ll be lucky to get 50mb dl and only God knows what upload (the important part for hosting) via Fibre To The Node.

  3. leo says:

    You are correct this could change the future of the web hosting Industry. Can you describe your testing enviroment, are you using a cooler etc?

  1. 2nd August 2013

    […] Ste W Once upon a time not all that long ago, if you wanted to have a website online, you did a quick […]

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