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Shared Hosting vs. Dedicated Hosting

Shared Hosting vs. Dedicated Hosting

Machielle Thomas, Content Manager

December 23, 2019

Along with getting a domain name, getting web hosting is one of the keys to setting up a new website, but what kind of hosting is right for your site? New site builders can choose among an array of options ranging from basic shared hosting to more specialized options, including highly customizable and very private dedicated hosting that gives users sole occupancy of a single web server in the host’s network.

Shared and dedicated hosting packages both offer ways to provide an online home base for a new website, but they’re designed for very different needs. Making the best hosting choice when making a WordPress website depends on factors including the size and scope of your site and your plans for its future development. Below is a comprehensive guide comparing shared hosting vs dedicated hosting services.

  • A Hosting Option for Every Need

All web hosting services operate on a similar model. Account-holders’ websites are parked and maintained on servers owned by a remote provider. Depending on the kind of hosting package a user purchases, the web hosting provider is responsible for the care and maintenance of the servers and providing various other services specified within the hosting plan.

When first-time site owners are advised to get “web hosting,” this typically refers to shared hosting, the kind of basic hosting package offered at low prices for new site builders and owners of small sites. But most leading web hosting providers also offer other kinds of hosting services, and some providers focus exclusively on a particular type.

These more specialized hosting options include managed hosting, in which the host takes responsibility for most if not all the tasks of maintaining a site, virtual private server hosting, or VSP, which gives users a partitioned space for more privacy and control—and even hosting designed to support specific site builders such as WordPress. These services offer ascending levels of privacy, security, and control over the set-up and management of the site—and with exclusive use of web server resources and an array of support services, dedicated hosting tops the list of hosting options for scalability, security, and flexibility. But this kind of hosting isn’t for everyone.

  • How Does Shared Hosting Work?

Shared hosting packages are offered by nearly every web hosting provider, often at astonishingly low prices for basic service. As the name indicates, multiple websites shared space on a single server that is maintained by the hosting provider. All the sites on that server get an allotment of the server’s total available resources, such as bandwidth, power, and memory. A shared server can host hundreds or even thousands of websites, and users can set up multiple sites on a single hosting account.

The hosting provider takes care of things like providing basic user support, maintaining server hardware and software, and providing and updating basic security protocols. Shared hosting packages can also include multiple tiers offering combinations of features at higher prices, but users are typically responsible for setting up and running their own sites. The obligations of hosting providers and account holders are set out in the hosting contract.

Because so many sites can be packed into a single shared server, and because the lowest tiers of shared hosting packages typically don’t offer many features or support services, providers can offer hosting packages for very low prices. That’s important for new sites on a low budget, but shared hosting has some drawbacks that become more apparent as a website grows.

  • Shared Hosting Has Limitations

Shared hosting makes it possible for just about anyone to create an online presence, but sharing a server with so many others can pose problems. Each site on the server is owned and operated independently, but malware or viruses that infect one website can also affect its neighbors if security isn’t tight. In this environment, hacking one site can also expose others in the vicinity to issues like identity and data theft.

All sites on a shared server have to draw from the server’s overall resources. That means events that pull more than a site’s allotted share, like a sudden surge in traffic, can cause others on the server to slow down or even crash. If a site continues to hog more than its allotment of server resources, the web host can terminate the account. Likewise, if a site attracts massive amounts of spam or creates other problems for the hosting environment, it can be locked out until site owners clean up the problem.

Shared hosting packages can work well for smallish sites with relatively low amounts of traffic, and for many website owners, this kind of hosting solution is all they’ll ever need. But for sites that are “outgrowing” basic shared hosting, dedicated hosting provides virtually unlimited room for expansion, privacy, and control over every aspect of the site.

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