What is shared hosting?
Shared hosting, also known as virtual hosting, is a way to host your website on a single physical server that also hosts additional sites. Within the server, there are software applications that make managing and accessing your website easy.
The shared hosting environment is like sharing a highway with other cars. Hundreds or even thousands of users can share the same server, which means they also divide the costs. This “collective” platform makes shared hosting the most inexpensive and popular option of all the web hosting setups. Many bloggers, startups, and small businesses use shared hosting to host their websites since it’s so easy to get started.
How much does shared hosting cost?
The cost of shared hosting depends on the level of service a web host provides. Generally, you can expect to pay $1 to $20 a month for space on a shared server.
How does shared hosting work?
Shared servers are similar to computers in that they have hard drive space, a central processing unit (CPU), and RAM. These resources are shared with other users hosted by the server. This makes it possible to securely store all the saved files, data, and information making up your website.
When anyone requests access to your website from their computer, the stored data of your website is sent from the server to the internet user. Shared hosting takes advantage of a server’s optimal utility, since each individual website generates different amounts of traffic, at different times.
Effects of sharing a server
As stated, utilizing a shared server is like sharing a highway. You pay taxes to have highways maintained, just like you pay a small monthly fee to use shared hosting. Because many people contribute to the costs, individual prices for users are kept low.
If you’re expecting low-to-moderate traffic on your website, then a shared hosting package is a fantastic choice, since it’s affordable and convenient. However, just as a lot of cars on a highway can cause congestion, your website can experience a slight slowdown if the computing resources you share with others are directed to a website that is experiencing an unusually high volume of traffic.
Typically, reputable web hosting companies can easily support most web pages with very little risk of speed issues. If traffic to your site picks up consistently, you can always upgrade to a higher tier plan.
Characteristics of shared hosting
Not all shared hosting providers offer the same experience. Some factors that may vary from one hosting company to the next are explained below.
These should give you an idea of how to choose a reliable provider.
- Uptime: Uptime is a measurement of how long a web hosting system has been continuously running. The best shared hosting providers have high uptimes, indicating high reliability.
- Traffic: If you already anticipate high traffic, shared hosting may not be an option. Web hosting companies generally have policies that prevent “bad neighbor effects,” which is when heavily trafficked websites hijack all the resources on a shared server. Make sure to read the policies to find a web host that can support your website’s traffic.
- Resources: Although shared hosting providers can accommodate many users, resources such as processing and memory are still limited. Some web hosts limit what you can put on your website so that more users can share a single server. Be sure to read and understand your web hosts’ acceptable use policy to ensure your website is compliant.
Understanding shared hosting plans
Many web hosting companies offer tiered plans for shared hosting. This is so you only pay for what you and your website need. These plans include some important features and possibly some unfamiliar jargon.
- Websites: You can choose a plan that allows you to host more than one website on a single shared server rather than buying two separate plans. This streamlines the management of all your different sites.
- Disk space: Disk space is the amount of hard drive space available to users. Most of the time, shared hosting plans provide more than enough space for small businesses or personal projects. Websites may run into issues if they include large images or audio files. That’s why companies guarantee unlimited disk space, so you never have to worry about reaching a limit.
- Monthly bandwidth: Bandwidth is the amount of traffic and data your website can process. With low bandwidth, the speed at which your website functions can be impacted by higher traffic on a shared server. Typically, the speed difference is negligible. In fact, with well-resourced web hosting companies , your bandwidth is scalable, so you can seamlessly accommodate more traffic.
- FTP users: FTP stands for file transfer protocol, and an FTP user is someone with access to a domain. If you run a personal blog, one FTP user is enough. However, in a business with coordinating team members, multiple FTP users are better.
- MySQL databases: MySQL is a data management system that organizes data. Without getting too technical, if you want multiple independent sites on one shared account, then you need more MySQL databases.
- Subdomains: Wondering subdomains are and how they might influence your online presence? Subdomains are divisions of your domain that are useful for organizing your website’s content. For example, you could use a subdomain to separate a mobile version of your site from your full version.
- Email addresses: Your shared hosting plan may also include professional email addresses which enhances the image of your brand.
- Support: In case you run into any issues or have any question about hosting your domain, choose a web hosting company that has a friendly and helpful support team.
Shared hosting pros
Here is a review of the advantages of shared hosting.
- Cost-effective: The cost to customers is kept low due to multiple users contributing to the costs of the server.
- Flexible: You can choose shared plans that fit the needs of your growing website. For example, if you find yourself needing another website, more cloud storage, or more FTP users, you can upgrade to a plan that provides it.
- Secure: Although the space and resources are shared on a server, your information is not. Other websites utilizing your shared server are not able to access any of your website’s data. Additional security features provided by some web hosting companies also defend your website against cyber security threats.
- Straightforward setup: Setting up your website on a shared server is quick and easy. Shared hosting experiences are designed to support the less tech-savvy so you can get your website running with maximum efficiency and minimum technical knowledge.
- Effortless maintenance: The shared server is maintained by your web host provider so you can stay focused on growing your platform rather than working out bugs, or installing software updates. Leave that to the professional technical assistants.
Shared Hosting Cons
Despite its cheap and convenient nature, shared hosting does have a few tradeoffs to consider. What makes shared hosting attractive is its painless nature, but these circumstances can happen:
- Possible slowdowns: As previously discussed, the definition of shared hosting includes sharing resources like CPU power and memory. Because of this, it’s possible that a spike in activity will cause a lag in your website. Most of the time changes in speed is barely noticeable.
- Potential risks: Because shared servers host multiple websites, it risks potential compromises. To combat this, a reliable server host may include security features like SSL certificates.
Limited customization: In order to uphold security, the backend of shared servers are locked down. This means that you’re limited to what the hosting company provides for programs. If you have special technical requirements, like running an alternative operating system, then avoid shared hosting. For the less tech-savvy individuals, this is actually a benefit because it means all the tools you need are provided in an easy to understand interface, and server maintenance is taken care of by your server host.
Is shared hosting suitable for you?
Shared hosting is most suitable for the person or business that:
- Has limited background knowledge of web hosting
- Wants to save on costs
- Values hassle-free website management
- Requires a simple website for small businesses or personal purposes
- Is interested in learning web design, coding, or WordPress
Building a website is both exciting and daunting. Choosing the right web hosting setup is important to establish a good foundation for your website development. Unless you plan on going viral with a major marketing campaign, chances are shared hosting will handle your website’s needs.
Once your website is up and running, you can get a better sense of where your website needs to grow, whether it be in bandwidth or data storage. Starting on a shared hosting plan allows you the flexibility to scale without hiccups.