What types of web servers are there?

If you have ever looked around a webhoster, you have probably already read about the different servers. Dedicated, Virtual, Root etc… What is behind these terms?


First of all you have to know that the term server means two things. One is about the software itself. Like e.g. Windows Server 2012R2 or Debian and on the other hand it is about the hardware or how the software is implemented. Information about VM hosting can be found in this article, read more. With a web server you have to distinguish between the hardware on which it is installed and the software that runs on it. The best known is the Apache HTTP Server. So this is the software that is needed to be able to offer websites at all. By the way, a web server is usually run under a Linux or UNIX system. As a small example project I installed the slim lighttpsd server under Linux: The procedure and its configuration could be found in the article: Linux Webserver – Install Lighttpsd with php, read more The Microsoft product is called Microsoft Internet Information Server (IIS). Now there are different offers with different webserver options and price models at the webhosters (providers). What is all behind it?

Shared hosting or just hosting

With this type of website hosting, one or more domains are provided on one server. The essential thing is to share the resources of the server with many other website operators. This can of course mean that the server reacts slowly to a large number of accesses (e.g. database queries). Of course, the price model also varies a lot. It depends on the individual options. (How many databases or storage space you need!) But this is the simplest form of web hosting. You don’t have your own server, but the model is very suitable for getting started. I personally have been using STRATO Hosting – Professional Websites for years and am very satisfied with it. However, I could also recommend 1blue: www.1blu.de – Custom-made homepage packages for every demand. Also a good hosting company.

Dedicated or dedicated server

  • This type of server is sometimes called different. As the heading already suggests, there is the term Dedicated or Decided Server.
  • In general, the most important thing is that it is a physical server that is provided by the provider for exactly one web presence.
  • This type of hosting is particularly recommended if you have high traffic (many page views).
  • Of course, the costs are not necessarily low and depend on whether you use Windows or Linux software.

Root Server

If you host your own server (dedicated or virtual), you are completely responsible for its administration. This means that you have to take care of security, updates, software maintenance, etc. Here one should bring along absolutely some at know-how concerning their administration. Also one must not forget that one is legally responsible for it. So if the server is e.g. hacked and illegal activities are carried out with it. But of course a root server also offers advantages. One has a certain hardware requirement, which the server only uses for this one web presence. Also all freedom as far as the administration is concerned. For websites, which need a very high performance, there is often no other choice than a root server.

The term root server is often used ambiguously. There are 13 root servers on the Internet. These servers are servers that are responsible for name resolution. The whole thing has nothing to do with web servers. But webhosters also like to use this term, which has always originated from everyday language because one has root rights on the server (full administration rights). In general, one can equate the terms dedicated server and root server in web hosting.

Virtual server

First, the term should be explained virtually. In principle, it only means that several servers (software) can run in parallel on one physical server. This is made possible by different technologies such as Microsoft Hyper-V or VMware vSphere 5 Hypervisor . By the way, this is basically the same as running a different operating system in VMware Workstation 12 Pro. It is exactly the same there. One has a physical computer with a so-called host operating system and runs on it through a Virtuali

Managed server

Not everyone can or wants to maintain a server themselves. Especially in terms of maintenance, this can be very costly. Many webhosters therefore offer dedicated or virtual servers, which are administered by the webhoster. So you don’t have to take care of the administration yourself. The consequence of this is of course a higher price.

Which web server you need depends very much on the traffic, or what you want to offer on the Internet. A webshop has of course other requirements than a pure information page. The explained terms should provide a first rough overview, what there are all possibilities.