If you’re looking for an inexpensive and convenient way to launch your small website, you should consider shared web hosting.
What is a shared web hosting plan?
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 neighbouring users will not be able to access your files.
Shared web hosting is easy to set up and manage for beginners with no prior technical experience. But with convenience and low costs come limited resources, bandwidth and performance capabilities. You should carefully consider the needs of your website or business, 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.
Compare shared web hosting plans for 2020
Data obtained October 2018. Prices are subject to change and should be used only as a general guide.
How shared web hosting works
You need a web host in order for your website to be viewed 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.
In order to launch your website, your files, data, documents and software will need to be housed on a server, which will allow 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 among all the users on the server.
Though the behaviour and traffic of your neighbour sites can affect the performance of your website, 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 basic plans start at just a few dollars per month. Cost 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.
Benefits of shared web hosting
Affordability. Shared hosting is by far the most economical type of web hosting, with basic plans starting at just a few dollars per month.
Convenience. Shared hosting plans are easy to set up and manage. Your hosting provider will take care of the maintenance and administration of your server, 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 host.
Many options available. From basic plans to premium packages, you’ a wide range of options available to cover your specific needs and budget.
Customisation. Though your resources will be shared, you’ll be able to manage your own website individually and customise a wide range of features such as email and uploaded images. You’ll be provided with a user-friendly application that will help you customise 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’s affecting your website will probably be affecting all of the neighbouring 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 the resources of your shared hosting plan your provider should be able to help you migrate to a plan that better suits your growing 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:
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 should consider another web hosting type.
Who should not consider shared web hosting?
Shared hosting may not be for you if you fall under the following:
You have a large business
A website with high traffic
Sensitive information stored on your site
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.
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, your site can be impacted by other sites on the server. Increased activity or traffic spikes on your neighbouring sites can lead to performance lags on your website.
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 offered by your provider.
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 will not be able to install server wide apps, edit files on the server or reconfigure software.
Reduced flexibility. Less flexibility than other hosting types, only really meant for smaller websites.
How to setup 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.
Frequently asked questions on shared web hosting
Yes, it’s possible to get a web host if you already have a domain name. Keep in mind, some web hosts offer free domain name registration as part of a shared hosting plan, so it could be more cost effective to buy your domain directly from your web host.
Shared web hosting is generally considered safe, but security cannot be 100% guaranteed. A security breach of another user on the shared server can affect your site. If you have sensitive personal data, you should consider another web hosting type.
While reliable is a relative term, different web hosting providers have different degrees of reliability in performance and security. Check out reviews or recommendations of a potential web host to see if current customers consider it a reliable provider.
Not really. Many web hosting providers offer “unlimited” shared hosting, but they really mean “unlimited” within the reasonable usage expected of a small website. The server itself will have limitations in terms of space, available CPUs and memory, and your site will only be able to expand a finite amount. Check the terms of service of any potential web host for specifics.
While shared hosting gives you space on a shared server, VPS hosts give you use of a private virtual server within a shared hosting system. This gives you more control, security and ability to customise your site for a higher cost.
Dedicated web hosting gives you the use of an entire server effectively eliminating the problems associated with sharing a server, but it comes at a much higher cost than shared hosting. Dedicated hosting is useful for large businesses with high performance needs.
If you choose a web host that offers other web hosting types, the support staff will be able to help you transfer your site to another plan. If you foresee your business or website outgrowing shared hosting, make sure to choose a web host that offers multiple options. Before you migrate your site remember to export your database and download all site files.
Sarah Brandon is a senior writer at Finder specialising in technology and reviews. She has a Bachelor of Science in Psychology from New York University and loves learning about why people do what they do. Sarah has researched and written about a wide range of topics, from air purifiers to AirPods. But no matter the subject, her number one priority is figuring out what information our readers need to make the best decisions.
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