Businesses need websites to build their digital footprints.
While websites might be easy for large businesses to create and maintain, small businesses and solopreneurs don’t have the same kind of budget or bandwidth to start their digital presence. Shared hosting, a type of web hosting, can help those on a budget get going.
What is shared hosting?
Shared hosting is the easiest and cheapest web hosting option to get your website off the ground.
Shared web hosting definition
Shared web hosting allows multiple websites to run from a single server. Websites share that server’s processing power and storage space. Server maintenance is typically handled by the server owner.
Typically, individuals or businesses will build their websites (or have a service build them) and then use shared website hosting as an easily accessible way to get their websites up and running. Shared hosting usually comes cheap, which makes it ideal for individuals and small or new businesses.
Why use shared hosting?
By using shared web hosting, individuals and small businesses can secure a digital home for their businesses without breaking the bank. Because multiple individuals or businesses all share a server, the operation costs are split — either by fixed cost or by proportion of use — among the server users. Shared costs create a lower barrier to entry, which is a huge plus for both individuals and newly formed businesses trying to establish their internet homes.
Another advantage of shared hosting is the ability to run your website without needing dedicated server administrators or engineers. Whether you build your own website or someone else does it for you, shared hosting eliminates needing someone on your payroll that can maintain server hardware and software. This is a huge plus both for businesses that are just getting off the ground and for those small-to-midsize businesses looking to explore the online venue.
Finally, convenience is a huge selling point for shared web hosting. Shared hosting usually affords website owners management tools and dashboards to check site performance and feature usage. Furthermore, because your website’s function is based on the server itself, business owners can focus less on website uptime and more on the business because the server owner can manage most of the uptime-related aspects.
Potential issues with shared hosting
Of course, like anything else, there are issues that may come along with shared website hosting. First, because server ownership is controlled by a third party, you have no say in troubleshooting or recovering the server should it go down. This downside is shared by any business that doesn’t host its own website. Unfortunately, because the processing power is out of your hands, so is the ability to fix it.
Another consideration is that you can’t guarantee which individual(s) or business(es) you’ll share the server with. If you or your business ends up on the same server as a lot of low-traffic sites, then it’s likely that your site’s loading and navigational performance will be good. On the other hand, sharing the server with one or several relatively high-traffic websites can cause your — and every other — website on the server to lag. Unfortunately, there’s no real way to guarantee which outcome your website may end up with, and likely, you might end up with a mix of the two.
Security is the other major concern that tends to come up with shared website hosting, understandably so. Websites can have some security aspects built in, but since multiple sites are all on the same server, security issues on one site can lead to security issues for the entire server. In a sense, your website’s security is only as good as the weakest security of any website on the server. This might not be a huge deal for sites that don’t handle any personal or financial data, but for those that do, this might reasonably be a big concern.
When to move on from shared hosting
Every bit as important as knowing when to start something is knowing when to pump the brakes. For shared hosting, that moment is when your website has matured.
Maybe your site traffic has gone from a few hundred hits a month to a few thousand. Perhaps your company has decided to expand its offerings, which requires scaling the website to fit these new business needs. Or your company might have discovered that the website needs much stronger security capabilities than it currently has available.
While these aren’t exclusive examples, they’re all reasonable indicators that your website might have outgrown its shared hosting. If that’s the case, perhaps virtual private server (VPS) hosting, dedicated managed hosting or cloud hosting would be worth considering. If the demand is there, your business might even consider self-hosting your website for maximum control over every aspect of your website’s existence.
The user experience is critical to driving website engagement. Learn about web accessibility and how improving yours can help diversify — and expand — your audience.