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What is Java Hosting?
Java is a programming language and platform that enables developers serve up dynamic, interactive content. On the web, you will almost certainly have used Java applications and Applets.
Why Choose Java Hosting?
While Java-enabled hosting is more expensive than regular hosting, it offers added functionality to match the higher price tag.
Java is a veteran programming language. It was launched by Sun Microsystems in 1995, and has achieved impressive longevity since then. Java faces tough competition from HTML5 on the modern web, but many websites depend on Java - and will continue to do so. It's now owned by Oracle, and it's being used for websites, Internet of Things (IoT), home automation and gaming.
For the end user, the software needed to run Java applications is packaged a small, free download, so there's minimal interruption to the browsing experience. This is called a Java plugin, or Java Runtime Environment (JRE). Once downloaded, the plugin needs to be updated periodically.
If you're unfamiliar with Java's capabilities, look at your host's cPanel or similar control panel. There's probably a Java-based SSH client in there that you can try. There's more information in our cPanel tricks blog post.
Pros and Cons
There are specific situations where Java is the best choice, but it isn't for everyone. There are a few downsides to choosing Java, and these should be factored into the buying decision when you choose your hosting provider:
- Hosting plans that include Java functionality tend to be more expensive than the basic plans they offer; you'll rarely get the headline price
- Newbies will need to learn a new programming language on the fly (or hire a developer)
- Some hosts won't let you use Java on shared hosting plans (see below for more information)
On the plus side:
- Java is considered to be relatively easy to learn if you're interested in coding
- It's Object Oriented, which means it shares common features with other languages
- Users don't need to have a particular device or operating system
- It's free
Java used to have a reputation for being slow to load, particularly compared with Flash. However, this has become less of an issue now that our internet connection speeds have caught up. Once a Java app has been downloaded, it is normally saved in the browser cache for instant execution the next time around.
Hosting For Java: Shared or VPS?
In September 2012, Go Daddy removed all Java functionality from its shared servers. Its reasoning was that the shared environment was not sufficient to give customers the flexibility needed to program in Java.
Its reasoning is sound. With all Java-enabled hosting, you'll have a Java applications server installed. One example is Apache Tomcat, which is an open source container and server in one. On a shared server, everyone shares one instance of Tomcat (or the equivalent). This can cause problems and downtime.
(Rarely, some hosts do offer dedicated Java installs for shared hosting customers. However, these are definitely exceptional, and the hosting is almost always more expensive than regular shared hosting.)
Overall, for Java (and for other advanced uses), a VPS is better:
- You get your own servlet container - not a shared one - so your Java applications are isolated
- You have more control over the hosting environment generally, which is important when you're doing anything more than the basics
- You can reboot the VPS whenever you like to get your Java applications working properly
- There's less chance of downtime caused by other people's rogue Java content
If you upgrade to a dedicated server, you'll have the entire machine to yourself, giving you even more surety.
Java Hosting Server Requirements
To serve up Java content, you'll need the Java servlet container and web server. Apache Tomcat is free and open source; we recommend version 6, which supports version 1.7 of the Java Development Kit (JDK). Tomcat version 5.5 will suffice for older versions of the JDK.
On VPS and dedicated hosting plans, the software is normally provided as an optional add-on that can be installed from your control panel. If you don't see it, ask your host to install it for you.
In terms of server RAM, it's best to aim for 512mb as a minimum. If you're running other things alongside your Java container, or you want to run resource-intensive applications, go for more RAM for best performance.
Finally, we recommend you buy a managed VPS hosting plan, unless you're familiar with server administration (or willing to learn quickly).