If you’re looking for an inexpensive and convenient way to launch your small website, you could consider shared web hosting.
What's in this guide?
What is shared web hosting?
Shared hosting — the most commonly used web hosting type — allows you to house your website or blog on a shared server. Though you’ll share space and resources with other sites, your files are secure from your fellow users
Shared web hosting is easy to set up and manage for beginners with no prior technical experience. But convenience and low costs equals limited resources, bandwidth and performance capabilities.
Carefully consider your website or business needs and the future plans you have for your site before choosing a web hosting provider. Read on to find out if shared hosting is the right option for you.
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How shared web hosting works
You need a web host to get your website up on the Internet — but not all web hosting types are created equal. If you’re launching a small business, blog or website and have a limited budget and little-to-no technical experience, shared web hosting might be for you.
To launch your website, all your files, data, documents and software need to be housed on a server, which allows your site to be viewed on the Internet. With shared hosting, you share the physical server with other users. This means storage space, memory and CPU will be shared between all the users on the server.
Though the behavior and traffic of your neighbor sites can affect your website’s performance, shared resources might not be a problem for you if your website is small, has modest processing needs and limited traffic.
How much does shared hosting cost?
Shared web hosting start at only a few dollars per month for basic plans. Costs will increase for more premium plans with additional memory, available CPUs and space. Choose a plan based on your budget and the needs of your website. Be sure check if your web host includes any features in your plan such as domain name registration or 24/7 customer service.
Pros and cons
- Affordability. Shared hosting is by far the most economical type of web hosting, with basic plans starting at only a few dollars per month.
- Convenience. Shared hosting plans are easy to set up and manage. Your hosting provider will take care of your server’s maintenance and administration, making your life much simpler. You don’t need to have any special knowledge or server management experience to maintain your website on a shared web hosting provider.
- Many options available. From basic plans to premium packages, you’ll find a wide range of options available to cover your specific needs and budget.
- Customization. Though your resources are shared, you’ll be able to manage your own website individually and customize a wide range of features such as email and uploaded images. You’ll be provided with a user-friendly application that will help you develop your website to your specifications.
- Technical support. One benefit of sharing resources with other users is that you’ll generally receive fast technical support because any problem that affects your website will probably affect all of the neighboring sites. Many shared hosting plans provide 24/7 maintenance, supervision and support.
- Availability. Almost all web hosting providers offer a shared hosting plan.
- Ability to upgrade. If you choose a provider that offers a variety of services, it’s relatively easy to migrate your website from shared hosting plan to a virtual private server (VPS) or dedicated hosting plan. As your site outgrows your shared hosting plan resources, your provider should be able to help you migrate to a plan that better suits your growing needs.
- Security. The biggest downside to shared hosting is the potential for security breaches. When one user makes a mistake or experiences a security breach, it will likely affect all the other sites on the shared server.
- Performance. With shared hosting, other websites on the server can impact your own site. Your website could experience performance lags due to increased activity or traffic spikes on the neighboring sites.
- Limited resources. A shared server will have a maximum amount of space, available CPUs and memory. If your website becomes popular and starts experiencing significantly increased traffic, you may outgrow the resources available to you.
- Crashes. Any physical server has the potential for crashes and failures. Ask your potential web host what measures they take to prevent crashes and protect your site.
- Limited apps. With a shared web hosting plan, you will only be able to use the applications and software your provider offers.
- No root access. Root access gives you administrative control across the server, and is only available with VPS and dedicated web hosting. Without root access, you can’t install server wide apps, edit files on the server or reconfigure software.
- Reduced flexibility. Shared hosting offers less flexibility than other hosting types, since it’s intended to accommodate smaller websites.
How to set up shared web hosting
- Choose a web host. The first and most important part of setting up shared web hosting is picking the best web hosting provider for your website. Be sure to check the terms of service for all the details of your potential shared server.
- Register a domain name. This is where people will find your website. Many web hosting providers allow you to do this for free, but you can also use a domain registration service. Consider which domain extension would be most appropriate for your site e.g. “.com”, “.org”, “.au”, “.net” or “.edu”. Keep in mind, the price may differ based on the extension you want.
- Build your website. Use a website builder or content management system (CMS) such as WordPress or Joomla, depending on what is offered by your web host to design your website.
- Upload content. Once your website has been established you can continue to add content and focus on growing your site traffic.
- Manage growth. If your website or business expands beyond what you had initially predicted, you might want to consider migrating to a web hosting type that can accommodate your higher performance needs.
What kind of user would benefit most from shared hosting?
Shared hosting is the most popular web hosting type for a reason. Shared hosting can be particularly useful for:
- Personal bloggers
- Small businesses
- Websites with low to moderate traffic
If you fall under one of these groups, a shared web hosting plan can provide everything you need at a low cost. However, if you need more resources and guaranteed security than a shared hosting plan offers, you could consider another web hosting type.
Who should not consider shared web hosting?
Shared hosting may not be for you if:
- You have a large business.
- Your website is high-traffic.
- Your site stores sensitive information.
While a shared hosting plan may be the best option when your business is small, as your business grows and traffic to your website increases you may wish to migrate to another hosting type to satisfy your needs.
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