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Recommended Host for Java
What is Java Hosting?
Java is a programming language and platform that enables developers to serve up dynamic, interactive content. On the web, you will almost certainly have used Java applications and Applets.
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 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).
Java Hosting Frequently Asked Questions
What is Java?
Java is a programming language and a platform for the development of application software.
No. The two languages are not really even related. Their similar name is something of a historical accident.
What is Java used for?
Java is used for building any type of software application. It is platform-independent so that you can write an application once and run it anywhere with a minimum of extra work.
Is Java still widely used?
Yes. Although it is over 20 years old now, Java is still one of the most popular programming languages in the world.
It is hard to say exactly how popular a computer language is, but the industry standard Tiobe Index generally has Java and C in the top two positions.
Is Java open-source software?
The Java language is open-source in the sense that anyone can create their own compiler to run Java code. Most people use a particular implementation of the language, however.
The most popular ones are open-source. OpenJDK, for example, is open-source with a linking exception. And both Oracle's HotSpot and GNU Compiler for Java licensed under the GNU GPL.
What operating systems does Java work on?
Java is designed to be widely supported by all hardware architecture. Java will work on almost all operating systems, including Windows, Mac OSX, Linux, Android, and iOS.
How does Java work?
Java code written by a programmer is compiled into Java bytecode. Java bytecode is run on a Java Virtual Machine (JVM). Java programs run on JVMs the same way, regardless of the environment.
Java's flexibility provides cross-platform compatibility to any computer system that has a JVM. Most computer systems now have a JVM.
What is the Java Runtime Environment (JRE)?
The JRE is a package that allows a computer needs to run Java programs. It includes a Java Virtual Machine (JVM) and the standard Java libraries.
Can I use Java to build a website?
Yes. On the server side, Java can be used for creating dynamic web applications in the same way that PHP, Ruby or any other language can be.
There are a number of web development frameworks for Java, including Play, Ninja, and Grizzly.
On the client side, Java applets can be deployed and run in browser by anyone who has the Java Runtime Environment browser plugin.
However, with the release of HTML5, Java's use as a client-side language is becoming less common.
What are the alternatives to Java for client-side programming?
Client-side Java requires a browser plugin.
Are there times to use Java for client-side programming?
If you are building a client application that is separate from a browser, Java is one of the best options available, because of its cross-platform nature.
Are there any good alternatives to Java for server-side web programming?
A number of languages and development platforms can be used for server-side programming. The most popular options are PHP and Ruby on Rails.
How does Java compare to the .NET framework?
Java is open-source and widely supported. You can run Java applications on almost any architecture, which makes moving it easy, and hosting cheap.
The Java platform can run several useful languages which don't work with, or have been abandoned by, the .NET platform, such as Ruby and Python.
The developer community for Java is also larger, which may make it easier to find talent in the future.
Where .NET excels is in its integration with Microsoft tools and services. So if you need to use several other tools from them, you will probably have an easier time working with .NET.
How does Java compare Ruby on Rails?
Several independent benchmarking tests have shown that Java applications have better performance than Ruby on Rails apps — they simply run faster. The slower speed isn't surprising since Ruby has to be interpreted.
However, run-time speed isn't everything. Rails applications are usually faster to develop.
How does client-side Java compare to Flash?
The two technologies have similar capabilities, but Java is much better supported across platforms. It is also open-source.
However, they both require browser plugins and will eventually be unnecessary because of additions to HTML5.
How does client-side Java compare to Silverlight?
Unless you need some specific tool available in Silverlight only, Java is going to be a better option because it is available on pretty much all systems.
However, Silverlight has some really unique features (like Deep Zoom), so you may need to use it, depending on what your requirements are.
What is JSP?
JSP is short for Java Server Pages, an early application of Java technology to dynamic web content.
Small bits of Java code could be embedded into HTML documents and the results of running that code passed on to the web server at runtime. It is very similar to PHP.
How does JSP compare to PHP?
IF you want to insert small pieces of server-side code into HTML documents, use PHP. Save Java for when you want to use the full framework.