External Hosting vs. Self Hosting

  • Author: The Konverge Team
  • Published: 12/14/2022 12:02:50 PM
  • 4 minute read

Internal External Hosting

To start with, let’s go over (a very oversimplified version of) how the internet works. If we’re sitting at a computer and we’d like to access a website, we’ll open a web browser and type in the “domain name” we’d like to see (ie and hit Enter. Assuming we’re connected to the internet, the site will load and it won’t be long before that website’s content flashes in front of our eyes.

So we can assume that every unique domain name connects us to a unique website. But where does that content come from? Well it comes from another computer somewhere, also connected to the internet. That other computer’s job is to deliver the content that we’ve requested immediately after we’ve requested it, and again whenever we’d like. What this other computer is doing is called “Hosting”.


Since there are nearly infinite unique domain names we can connect to, that means there must be a lot of hosting going on out there. But where are all these computers that are hosting all these websites? And who is maintaining them all?

Well you can imagine that there is a high demand for hosting solutions and a lot of different options for web site creators to use. We’ll refer to these services as External Hosting, for example AWS “Amazon Web Services” is an External Hosting service offering hosting solutions. These companies will host your content and serve it to anyone that connects to your domain on their web browser.

However, it’s also possible to host your own content on your own computer. This is called Self Hosting. There are a few steps that go into it but anyone with a computer can host content with their own hardware and have micro control over it.

Self Hosting

A basic self hosted setup would go like this (on a Linux machine):

  • Install and configure Apache. Apache is a free open source HTTP Server that delivers web content through the internet. It will accept HTTP requests and serve your content. Download here.
  • Install PHP and MySQL. These will help you maintain a database on your machine and write PHP scripts. Note, that not all web technology uses PHP and MySQL this is just an example of scripting languages. Download here.
  • Configure site files, DNS, and Apache. Which is essentially getting everything configured to work together. This may be tricky if you’re new to it. Find examples here.

Internal External Hosting

Self Hosting vs External Hosting

The setup described above is very abstract and is typically quite challenging. It turns out that Self Hosting requires quite a lot of setup and can be really fragile once it’s been set up. Also note that if attempting to self host from your own home/office you must have a reliable power source as servers require constant uptime.

Hopefully by now you’re seeing some of the challenges that may come up. This is why External Hosting solutions exist. They attempt to take care of tedious setup, and maintenance for you. External Hosting is built to be accessible and adaptable. They serve companies big and small with pricing determined by how much of their services you actually need to use.

Here’s what you get with External Hosting:

  • Various hosting options for your website. This means that using any type of server coding language or database should be as easy to work with as any other. You can pick what you prefer and they will host it for you with ease.
  • Add on features. This includes but is not limited to Wordpress integration, site backups, database history, etc.
  • Value. Hosting cost money no matter what, someone has to pay the hardware/hydro bills. It’s likely going to save you money to host externally, as they have optimized systems built specifically for hosting.
  • Support and Customer Service. You’ll have access to a team that has the same goal as you do, which is to get your content hosted as easily as possible and they’ll know how to get it done.
  • Uptime. External Hosting services are reliable services and may be more reliable than self hosting. This gives you security from things like power outages, hardware malfunctions, or cyber attacks.

Is Self Hosting ever worth it?

It may be an obvious choice to use an External Hosting service instead of attempting to Self Host. But ultimately this decision needs to be considered by your team and evaluated based on your own factors. In many cases it may come down to the bottom line and could save money for companies serving a large amount of requests or who’d like to micro manage their servers.

This may take some experimenting and it’s a good idea to have some experts on the team that can handle the setup and ongoing maintenance of Self Hosting. Or to get your services back up quickly if something caused them to go down temporarily.

Developers that work primarily on servers and hosting websites are known as DevOps Engineers. Their work may break down into one of several categories including managing releases, continuous development/integration automation, software testing, or platform security. The size of this team will vary on company needs but having at least one team member who specializes in these mentioned DevOps roles is highly recommended.

Internal External Hosting

In Conclusion

“Server” computers that host content to users are a foundational part of the internet and are required for anyone hosting a website. Companies that focus primarily on hosting websites are here for a reason. Like other External Hosting solutions, AWS is a great example of a company that can serve your business at nearly any stage, whether it’s for a small website or a large scale application. Self Hosting is always an option but should be handled by experts who know how to properly set up servers and quickly diagnose any problems that will inevitably arise.

If you're looking to build a website or application, and still can't decide whether you should invest in your own infrastructure, or get an external hosting partner, give Konverge a try. Not only can we build custom software for you, but our Business Analysts can help you find out what your best options are.

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