What is a hosted solution?
A hosted solution is a website platform that includes website hosting as part of the fee. Hosting is where the files of your website live.
Hosted solution pros
When the platform also hosts the website, it is more convenient than finding your own hosting. It also means that the platform keeps the software updated. Some platforms offer backups of your website, while some offer partial or even no backups.
The hosted solution platforms also offer website builders and templates to get new users up and going quickly. These templates can be customized, but it can be a learning curve to do it without jeopardizing the quality of the mobile-responsiveness of the site.
Hosted solution cons
Since it is so much more convenient to have a hosted solution, what’s the downside? You don’t have as much control. Website platforms control your site. Often they control the type of website they allow; for example, so-called risky or gray-area products are not allowed on most of these platforms. They can shut your website down if you break their terms, and you don’t have a way of moving your site without re-building it.
What is a self-hosted solution?
Self-hosted solutions, by contrast, require you to find your own hosting. Self-hosting also requires you keep your software updated, your website secure and backed up.
Self-hosted solutions pros
A self-hosted solution offers you the opportunity to keep backups of your site. If something happens to your host, or you decide to switch, you simply move your site elsewhere. That kind of control can be important for some businesses.
Some hosted solutions offer responsive websites that look good on mobile, but some features need customizing to make them really work well across devices. Not all platforms offer the ability to customize that much without coding.
Hosted solutions have gotten better at SEO over the last few years, but there are still limits on how much control you have over the things that improve SEO. In most of the builders and for most people, there are enough controls to improve their business and traffic. For very advanced SEO techniques, there may not be a way.
Self-hosted solution cons
There can be much more complexity for these solutions.
So which one is best?
It depends on your needs. If you need basic functionality with few customizations, hosted solutions can be a great low-cost option. For customized websites with complex features, a self-hosted solution may be best. However, with a self-hosted solution, it is critical that the software updates, security, and site backups be a part of the plan from the very beginning.
The best website platform has the website features you need and is the one you are comfortable enough using that you will keep your content updated.