Chances are if you’re wondering if you should host your website on a shared server, you’re new to the world of web hosting. Someone has probably warned you about shared hosting… they might have told you it’s a scam, or that it performs poorly. Well that may possibly be true about some shared hosting, but not all.
Let’s explore the world of shared hosting by first discussing the types of shared hosting that are most commonly offered.
Types of Shared Hosting
There seems to be four types of hosting most commonly offered by web hosts. Hosted apps usually involve the host preloading a web app for you. This is usually the best kind of hosting for folks who don’t want to bother with any technical stuff but do want to start a website. Then there’s the common shared hosting, where you are assigned an IP address and space on a web server, which you can access through a management platform called Cpanel. This is what most people are familiar with when you mention shared hosting.
VPS is another form of shared hosting that stands for virtual private server, and just as the name suggests, it is a virtual private server – shared hosting that emulates a private server. Dedicated hosting isn’t shared hosting at all but an entire server reserved especially for your private use. For the purpose of this article, we will only discuss the most commonly known form of shared hosting which involves a shared space on a web server with an assigned IP address.
Advantages of Shared Hosting
There actually are advantages to using shared hosting. One of the most well known advantages to using shared hosting is that it is more user friendly than other forms of hosting. Since it has limited functionality and a user friendly Cpanel access, it is quite easy for beginners to get started with and also easy for beginners to start learning about the technicalities of web hosting.
Another well known advantage of using shared hosting is its cost. It is arguably the cheapest form of web hosting available. Many web hosts offer shared hosting for only a few dollars a month. The cheapest web host, Namecheap, offers web hosting for an astounding $10 annually. Additionally, some web hosts will even go so far as to offer you a few months or even a year of hosting free just for trying them out.
Another not so clear advantage to shared hosting is that shared web hosts typically offer a higher level of user support than can be found with other forms of web hosting. This is probably because many shared hosting users are beginners. Regardless, it is not unusual to see a shared web host have a very large knowledge base, tutorials, and friendly, knowledgeable staff that are available 24/7.
Shared hosting also can be commitment free. If you are unsure if you want to keep a website running indefinitely, shared hosting is a cheap and flexible start to test the waters with.
But are there any disadvantages to using shared hosting? Just like with anything else, there is a downside as well as an upside. Let’s see what some of the disadvantages to shared hosting could possibly be.
Disadvantages to Shared Hosting
If you just so happen to pick one of the worst web hosts, you will find a lot of disadvantages to shared web hosting you didn’t bargain for. One of the biggest disadvantages you may find are hidden fees. These are fees that the web host doesn’t tell you about upfront while you’re signing up for service, only to tell you about it later – or worse, not at all – after you have already given them your credit or debit card information. These hidden fees can add up quick and you can easily find yourself paying twice as much as you originally planned to pay.
Another common disadvantage among the worse shared web hosts is vendor lock in. These web hosts will hold your domain and in some cases your website itself hostage. This forces you to continue paying for their services if you want to hang on to your domain and/or website.
One of the most common disadvantages with shared web hosts is that they sometimes tend to send a lot of spam to your inbox. This spam encourages you to upgrade or add more services to your account. Of course, spam can be blocked, but then you might miss an important message about your account from the shared hosting provider.
Shared web hosting also is very limited in its scalability and availability. Let’s say you find success and have millions of visitors coming to your site. Even if you pay for all of the upgrades, you may find that you just can’t scale up as much as you need to. The site may possibly be constantly down, too, because it can’t handle the load of traffic.
Uses for Shared Hosting
Alas, shared hosting still has its place in the world as long as you aren’t catering to an extremely large audience. It is excellent for bloggers, small business websites, business projects, hobby websites, email, project management, and inventory. Anyone that needs server space but doesn’t use a lot of traffic or has a lot of data to upload is perfect for a shared hosting plan. So should you ever host your website on a shared server? Yes, if your needs for it are very small, indeed!
Additionally, shared web hosting is for you if you are working with a small budget and need something dirt cheap and easy to use. Or if you just want to experiment a little and see where having a website might take you. However, steer clear of shared web hosting if your needs are for a large audience… you will be vastly disappointed!