August 30

What is Shared Hosting?

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A website is not of much use to you or your organization if it’s not accessible on the Internet. Web hosting services have been the engine behind the growth and development of the Internet. Before your website goes online however, you have to determine the type of web hosting that will be most appropriate for you. While you can always switch between different types of hosting plans, it is always preferable if you can get it right from the get go. 

Before we delve into shared hosting, let’s first talk about the definition of typical web hosting.

What is Typical Web Hosting?

Typical web hosting provides online computing resources for the storage, configuration and maintenance of your website and its associated services.

Each website is distinguished by a unique domain name. Typical web hosting can be either dedicated, virtual private server (VPS) or shared hosting.

What is Shared Hosting?

Like the name implies, shared hosting is a form of web hosting where multiple websites, sometimes in the thousands, are stored, configured and managed on one server. Each website on a shared hosting plan is assigned a proportion of the available storage space, processing power, memory and bandwidth. 

Shared hosting rides on the logic that there will be no point when all the websites on the web server will have equal amounts of traffic at the same time. The fluctuation of different websites’ bandwidth and computing resource use ensures optimal utilization of the shared infrastructure.

The user is responsible for creating, configuring and updating their website. On the other hand, the web host handles hardware maintenance, operating system patches, software updates, security updates and customer support. They also typically provide a raft of tools and tutorials that help and guide users on managing their websites.

A user can have multiple websites under their account, all within their allotted server space. The shared hosting fee is levied monthly, though there are usually discounts when you choose to pay quarterly, semi-annually, annually or every two to three years. Pricing plans are often tiered with extra features available for more premium plans.

Each web host has a terms and conditions document detailing what users are permitted to do and what is prohibited as well as the circumstances that could trigger account suspension. 

Before you subscribe to a shared hosting, know the pros and cons.

Advantages of Shared Hosting

  • Affordable

The vast majority of the world’s websites run on shared hosting plans. Affordability is a major reason. Shared hosting plans leverage economies of scale. Each of the service provider’s web servers are split between hundreds or thousands of websites.

That way, the cost of running the servers is spread across numerous subscribers. The end result is subscription plans that are priced substantially lower than dedicated or VPS hosting.

  • Easy to Use

Web hosts recognize that shared hosting plans usually attract people and organizations who:

  • Are dabbling with a website for the first time.
  • Have limited technical knowledge on the workings of a website.
  • Are too small to afford an expert web administrator.

The process of signing up for a shared hosting plan is thus kept simple and user-friendly with one-click installs, extensive tutorials and intuitive control panels. A web host may even get your online advertising going via Google Ads and Meta Ads.

  • Scalability

Subscribing to a shared hosting plan does not imply your website is bound to this original choice for good. If at any point your site’s growth starts to demand greater server and bandwidth capacity, you can always upgrade to a higher tier shared hosting plan or switch to a VPS hosting or dedicated hosting plan.

Disadvantages of Shared Hosting

  • Diminished Performance: 

    In shared hosting, the bandwidth, processing power and memory are split across many subscribers. With so many websites competing for this common infrastructure, there is bound to be a degradation of speed and overall performance when compared to dedicated or VPS hosting. This is especially true during peak traffic periods. 

    Many web hosts place caps on shared hosting user traffic to reduce the risk of this happening.

  • Security:

    While each subscriber to a shared hosting plan is placed in a virtual silo that isolates their site’s files from those of other hosting plan subscribers on the same server, the underlying physical and server infrastructure remains common. 

    So, when one of the websites is infiltrated by malware, this could be propagated to other sites on the same server. To cite just one example, think about a ransomware infection where one site’s vulnerability may cause the entire shared server to come under the control of cyber criminals.
  • Multiple Restrictions: 

    The adage that you get what you pay for applies to shared hosting plans. You access the web hosting service at a reduced fee but the downside is the many restrictions on what you can do. There’s a much greater degree of restriction compared to dedicated hosting and VPS hosting plans. 

    For example, installing certain applications or plugins may be prohibited which can diminish your options for customization. Also, if your website regularly draws malware, spam and DDoS attacks, the web host can temporarily lock or permanently terminate it.

When is it Right for You?

Shared hosting plans are ideal when you are starting out your business/website or when you are subscribing to a web hosting service for the first time. You can get your site up and running quickly. It should also be your first option if you do not have much web traffic or do not need large storage for your website files.

Wrapping Up

Before you decide to go for shared hosting, evaluate your website needs. While you can always upgrade or downgrade your subscription plan, you want to save money by starting off on the plan that is the best fit for your current needs. 

Also, shared hosting providers and plans are not a monolith. For starters, features will vary from one provider and plan to the next. Pay attention to uptimes as well before you settle on any one web host.


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