With every entrepreneur, and his neighbors, feeling compelled to get on to the big bandwagon that is called e-commerce, providers have found an innovative way to house everybody together in an efficient way.
It is called shared web hosting…
and it allows web hosting companies host a great number of websites based on resource sharing technique. These resources could include software, bandwidth, memory and processor.
In fact, it is not uncommon for a server to hold up to many thousands of websites together. The greatest appeal of this approach is obviously the economy of scale.
And it has gone on to become the default option for providers in the industry.
Virtual hosting is yet another name to shared hosting.
Shared Hosting vs VPS Hosting
In addition to the common shared/virtual hosting, there is another approach called “VPS hosting“.
- Shared hosting typically involves many (usually hundreds and could stretch up to thousands) websites being held together inside one server.
- VPS hosting tends to restrict the number into no more than one dozen websites (usually the same restriction also applies to the number of applications as well) onto one single server.
For VPS hosting, the particular server would also be partitioned so that individual websites could use the assigned resources freely within the designated area of the server device.
In the case of shared hosting account, all the websites hosted on the same server would share all the available resources.
At first glance, this may sound less than desired. But on a practical sense, this is perhaps the most optimum use of the server, as not all websites are generating the same amount of traffic or using equivalent resources at the same time.
Shared hosting provides an ideal platform for personal use, small businesses, and possibly medium businesses, so long that the anticipated traffic and/or resource utilization falls within the boundary available on the server.
The fact is that shared hosting plans often cover more than enough e-mail accounts, data transfer, and disk space for average personal or small business use.
Then again, if you find yourself in constant and intense competition over these resources, then you know that your current plan does not work for you.
But such plans usually work fine, as chances are rare that an overwhelming majority of websites are generating peak traffic or using the computer resources as intensely at the exact same time as yours.
Advantages of Shared Hosting
It is undoubtedly the most cost effective way for your website to go live. That cost reduction is made possible as many webmasters share the cost of hosting on one single server.
There is always the upgrade option, so you’ll pay more only if you anticipate growing traffic or heavier utilization of computing resources.
It is not necessary to understand the nitty-gritty of web hosting, as you just need to settle on your basic website and let the shared web hosting company takes care of the technical implementation.
Such hosting plans often come with pre-installed as server software and updates and (usually) control panels.
It’s not your job to maintain the server.
Disadvantages of Shared Hosting
There is only predefined a location of computing resources like CPU, RAM, and i/o. In addition, there are also the imposed limits on disk space, and monthly bandwidth.
Since everything gets shared here, there is no guarantee that a problem experienced by one site would not affect your site if they are both on the same server.
With some shared hosting plans, users are not allowed on Root access.
Some providers make it difficult or impossible for you to make and restore backups.
Sharing on the same server also runs the risk of having your IP address blacklisted, because somebody else on that same server is sending out spams. The result is you are not able to send emails to some people.
Since the providers are going to stick to the latest stable software versions, you may not be able to take advantage of newer features of scripting languages made available on the latest software releases.
On the other hand, when provider chooses to make an upgrade to some system software, this may cause complications to your existing codes / scripts if there are compatibility issues.
So Is It Right for You?
In the overall analysis, keep in mind that you only get so much for what you pay for.
Granted, there will always be providers who claim to provide you with tremendous disk space and bandwidth for ridiculously low price, it simply would not make sense to their businesses if they could actually round up with dependable services.
So, don’t ever believe the “unlimited hosting” BS that many web hosts promise.
The modus operandi is never clearer. They pitch on their low cost factor in the hope that consumers got tricked into buying a substandard service.
You can’t actually fault them for not trying: in order to get around the perception that the service level could be low, they turn around and say they provide a certain “uptime guarantee”.
The positive thing about this market here is that there are genuine hosting providers that aim to do more for the consumers; BlueHost and HostMonster easily qualify into this bracket.
I hope by reading this far, you have developed some good idea on what “shared hosting” is, and the reasons behind the wide-ranging prices among the various providers and their corresponding plans.