Shared Web Hosting Salient Features
Shared Web Hosting is the first rung on the ladder of commercial hosting. When your website is placed on a server along with other client’s websites then that is called Shared Hosting. Your web hosting service provider hosts many websites from the same server essentially to bring down the cost per unit and make it economical for hosting.
Shared hosting is the least expensive and the most common option and hence the most popular type amongst webmasters. It is just the next stage after Free Hosting.
Although many websites share the same server yet they all retain their identity and function properly without any mix up. Your website will still have your own domain name.
Shared hosting is ideal for most individuals and small to medium sized businesses. It is good for websites that have low to moderate traffic. If you have potential to get remarkable increase in your web traffic then it will be good to look for shared hosting plans that allow up gradation in future. The hosting company should be willing to upscale your account and if need be there you should be flexible to transit to a much higher dedicated server. But then your web host should have those hosting packages too.
Most shared hosting companies use a Linux platform though some offer a Windows option as well, usually for a higher rate per month. Shared hosting normally uses a web-based control panel system, such as cPanel. The hosting provider for shared Linux hosting accounts is in charge of installation of server software, management of servers, security updates and other features of the services.
Let us now weigh advantages and disadvantages of shared web hosting.
Advantages of Shared Web Hosting
Shared hosting is the most popular option amongst paid hosting packages. Being competitive in nature various web hosts offer a number of features that make it quite attractive. Some of the important advantages are:
1 - Price
This is a low priced service. Your web host provides hosting to many websites from the same server essentially to bring down the cost per unit and make it economical for hosting. This is by far the most attractive advantage with people looking for budget hosting.
Most web hosts allow monthly fees that are very affordable. Annual fee comes at a discount too.
2 - Reliability
Shared web hosting is far more reliable than free hosting. Here down time is kept to a minimum and mostly comes with a guarantee from the web host. With paid plans the reputation of a service provider is at stake and they render more precautions and don’t let their servers break down too often.
3 - Server Maintenance
The web host is responsible for all kinds of server maintenance. This includes both hardware and software. Any shortcoming on part of operating system, hardware device, antivirus, security software, etc is looked after by the service provider.
This is a great advantage although most webmasters could take that for granted. Server maintenance and its up keeping require technical knowledge and professionals who can handle this job come at a costly price, which can be quite burdensome for an individual. With low fees of a shared web hosting package this is a great service.
4 - Scalability
The shared hosting field is very competitive. Various web hosts have designed a number of packages within this type that come at different rates so as not to lose any customer. This benefits the end user. One can chose the lowest costing plan and upgrade as their requirements increase. Nearly all web hosts allow this scalability facility. With every increase in price you get extra facilities and as your website grows you can keep adding additional features.
5 - Control
Shared web hosting gives ample control in your hands as compared to free hosting. One can use control panel to carry out all administrative functions of one’s website like uploading of web pages and files, view back office reports like traffic status, accounts, web mail, etc.
Despite sharing the same server, each user gets exclusive control of allocated fixed bandwidth, disc space and other features as per one’s own choice of a hosting package.
6 - Domain Name
This type of hosting allows you to use your own domain name and hence you can use your own domain for e-mail purposes too.
7 - Other Features
Shared hosting is rich with features. Most popular scripts can be added anytime. Multiple e-mail address, automailresponders, forums, blogs, chat, and many more are offered as part of packages or as add-ons with additional charge.
Disadvantages of Shared Web Hosting
Despite being rich in features, shared web hosting does have some shortcomings our disadvantages. These are:
1 - Security
Sharing the same server with other websites does make it economical in hosting but in the process web security gets reduced. This may not be critical if your site is not a commercial website. Vital data that is not for public viewing is susceptible to weak security as you never know the credibility of other website owners on the same server. Some technically proficient internet hackers can access data from the sites of other websites and this becomes quite easy for them in shared web hosting environment.
Generally all kinds of commercial websites are advised to go for dedicated hosting but when one has to compromise on commercial issues then one also has to look into this security issue. This is a weak link and one has to judge for one’s own self as to how critical it is.
2 - Sharing IP Address
In addition to sharing various server resources like bandwidth and disc space with other websites you also have to share the same IP address. This can cause a security lapse. Further all websites have to share the same fate of the IP address should any legality befall on it because of someone else’s illegal action. Even search engine rankings get affected because of shared hosting.
Sharing of IP address is also associated with spamming issues. In case some scrupulous website on your server is banned for spamming then your e-mails too get affected without any fault of yours.
3 - Traffic Limitations
Traffic affects bandwidth and if there is a sudden spike in traffic it can raise resource usage issues. It is not just that you have to pay for extra bandwidth used but it can adversely affect performance of other websites. In certain extreme cases such websites may get suspended and by force you might be asked to shift to a higher package of a dedicated server.
Increase in traffic is every website owner’s dream. But in shared web hosting platform it can cause technical hitches which can force you to either abandon or shift ground.
4 - File Restrictions & Downtime
Shared platform is not congenial to the working of all kinds of file types. There can be restrictions on many software, scripting language and file types. This is done to prevent sudden crash of servers due to unforeseen technical circumstances occurring out of illegal working in software. If that happens it can cause long down time durations, which can be disastrous for other websites too.
To maintain a high uptime percentage web hosts impose restrictions on certain applications too.
Irrespective of some obvious disadvantages, shared web hosting is the best solution for commercial hosting. It is for the masses. Clearly the advantages weigh outright in favor of it, the biggest being its economical factor.
Shared web hosting is ideal for most individuals and small to medium sized businesses. It is good for websites that have low to moderate traffic. Larger online businesses are advised to look for dedicated or VPS hosting.
Dedicated hosting does provide greater control, freedom and resources and hence comes at a higher cost as compared to shared web hosting. But then all websites don’t really need all that dedicated hosting has to provide. So why pay extra.
Ultimately it is for you to decide what your own requirements are and would they be sufficed by a dedicated hosting or a good shared web hosting too can come up to your expectations.
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