Hosted vs Self Hosted Websites

Hosted vs Self-Hosted websites

“What do hosted and self-hosted mean with regard to websites?”

While these concepts may sound intimidating at first, they are really very simple. Learn the differences between hosted vs self-hosted websites below.

While you shouldn’t have to be a web development expert to hire one, there are a few basic concepts that are important to understand. Our goal with this article is to describe the differences of hosted vs self-hosted websites. Understanding what you need will help you make the right decision.

What is a host?

A web host is a business. It provides the technologies and services that are required to have a website accessible over the internet. Special computers called servers are owned by the hosting company and they are used to host (store) the website. Your web host essentially rents space on their computers to house your site. We like to say, “a host is where the site lives.”

What Is A Hosted Platform?

Hosted platforms are an all-in-one buy. They usually provide simple propriety software to build your website and the computer storage space where that site will live. (WIX, SquareSpace, and Blogger are three popular hosted platforms that you may have heard of.) When you use a hosted platform, the hosting company handles all the software updates for you, and this can contribute to a low maintenance burden.

The biggest drawback to hosted platforms is the inherent restrictions on customization and functionality. In order to make their systems easy and inexpensive to use, they have to restrict what is possible.

It is also important to note that with a hosted website, if at any point you are unhappy with the hosting company, you have to abandon your site and build another site from scratch elsewhere. Also, if the hosting company goes out of business, your website goes down with them.

What Does It Mean to be Self-Hosted?

A developer builds a self-hosted website using software of their choosing, and then hires a hosting company to store that website. The price for self-hosting ranges from free for non-profit organizations to several hundred dollars for a fully-managed dedicated server.

Self-hosted websites provide the ultimate in flexibility and customization. There are fewer restrictions to the changes you can make to layout and design, and you can add any functionality you choose. If you’re unhappy with your hosting company, you can pick it up and move it elsewhere.

Hosted vs Self-Hosted

We hope we’ve covered the basic differences between hosted and self-hosted websites. If you have any other further questions on this subject, please feel free to email us or include a comment below. If you’d like to know more about our website design and development services, visit our web services page of our website.

See our related article: The Difference Between WordPress.com and WordPress.org.

8 thoughts on “Hosted vs Self Hosted Websites”

  1. If I do self-host for my platform, do I need to handle software updates by myself? I am confused that I have to hire hosting company for both hosted and self-hosted platform.

    • In general, if you choose self-hosted, you either handle software updates yourself, or you hire someone else to do them. However, some hosting companies offer plans for self-hosted WordPress that include automatic software updates.

  2. I am thinking about starting a website. I like the idea of a self hosted website because I can later change web providers without starting from scratch. If I have a self hosted WordPress website, hiring an outside host is recommended. But if I have an outside host, can I still transfer my website from WordPress to another web provider, or must I then start my website over from scratch which I want to avoid?

      • I am a beginner at this. What would you recommend? I want a free versatile website that is self hosted so I can later change web providers without losing my website. I read if you have a self hosted website like WordPress, you should get an outside hosting company to manage security and other issues. Would I have to pay this outside hosting company? Would having this supplemental hosting company mean I could not move my website to another web provider? Am I better off just having a self hosted WordPress website and forgetting about hiring an additional hosting company?

        • Thanks for clarifying. The confusion arises from referring to a service that would “manage security and other issues” as an “outside hosting company.”

          There are lots of companies offering maintenance services for self-hosted WordPress (try entering “wordpress maintenance service” into your favorite search engine.) Some of them also offer hosting, but it’s usually not part of the maintenance package. Typically they charge $50-$200/month, but it varies a lot.

          Using a maintenance service should not prevent you from moving your site to a different host if you want to.

          It’s vital to keep the self-hosted WordPress core software, plugins and themes up to date, and to have an automatic offsite backup system set up in case something goes wrong. Whether you should do it yourself or hire someone else depends on your skill level and whether you can stay on top of it. We offer a maintenance service to our clients, and as part of that we check every site for pending updates every day. Most site owners don’t have time for that, regardless of their skill level.

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