What Is Shared Hosting? Advantages And Disadvantages

Shared hosting is the most widespread hosting solution today.

Read this post to find out:

  • What is shared web hosting?
  • What is the advantage of shared web hosting?
  • Disadvantages of shared web hosting
  • Who offers shared hosting?
  • What is the average cost of shared hosting?
  • What is important when choosing shared hosting provider?
  • How many shared hosting companies are there?
  • Can I use hosting reviews website to see which one is the best?

Shared hosting is the most common web hosting solution today. As web keeps expanding, more and more people are starting their own websites or blogs. Shared web hosting is the most common solution suited for beginner user with small scale websites.

Shared web hosting is popular primarily because it combines very cheap hosting service with decent reliability. Almost all hosting providers today offer shared hosting.

It comes with very low prices ranging up to 11 USD /month.

What is shared web hosting?

Shared hosting is different from VPS or dedicated server hosting by the fact that many websites ( hundreds or thousands) share the same server. One server hosts hundreds or even thousands of websites, which use the same CPU, bandwidth and disk space.

This is the reason why web hosts are able to offer such cheap monthly prices, as the main cost of server is spread out over a large number of websites.

If you want to find out more about virtual private server hosting click here.

To recapitulate, in shared hosting your website is placed on the same server with hundreds of other websites, and you share:

  • Computer processor
  • Memory
  • Hosting bandwidth
  • Maintenance

What is the advantage of shared web hosting?

Main advantage of shared hosting is its low price and reliability ( if you are a small scale user).Years ago, web hosting was more expensive and there was no huge offer of website builder tools and content management systems that you see today ( WordPress, Joomla, Drupal etc.). It was more complicated to build and run a websites. This has changed in last years and building and maintaining web site today is much simpler. This means that more and more people build their own websites and blogs, and main service which enables this is cheap shared hosting.

Main advantages of shared web hosting:

  • Low price ( usually from 5USD- 10USD/month)
  • Reliability ( if you go with quality web host you should get very reliable solution for small scale website)
  • Easy set up and maintenance by web based control panels
  • Help and support
  • System administration ( this is advantage for small scale user but disadvantage for larger websites).

Disadvantages of shared web hosting

There are also some disadvantages to shared web hosting. If you remember from definition of shared hosting, you share server with hundreds of other websites. This leads to main disadvantages of shared hosting:

  • Limited resources ( CPU, memory, bandwidth ).
  • Your website can be affected by performance of other websites as you are all using the same server.

Who offers shared hosting?

Almost all hosting companies offer shared hosting plans. Shared hosting is the most widespread hosting solution today. There are literally thousands of companies offering this type of hosting both in USA and worldwide.

With thousands of different providers, and very little brand recognition, choosing shared hosting can be difficult task.

What is the average cost of shared hosting?

Shared hosting is relatively cheap. Prices vary from 3 USD per month up to 10 USD per month. Although initial prices are low, you should not use price as your main criteria when choosing shared hosting. Small monthly saving can cause you a lot of headache if you choose non responsive hosting provider with lousy customer service.

What is important when choosing hosting provider?

History of the company. As hosting service is very generic, you want to make sure that your hosting provider has successful track record and that it has been able to survive and provide services for a prolonged period of time ( several years). I don’t say that some brand new providers could not be also a good solution, it is just that age of the company signifies that it has been serving customers long enough, and it will probably be here in years to come.

Web hosting bandwidth. Bandwidth is the lifeline which connects your site with the rest of the internet. You want to make sure that your host is offering sufficient bandwidth for your website needs. In this area beware of unlimited offers ( they can be good solutions but you really need to understand what „unlimited bandwidth“ really means.

Web hosting space. Web hosting space is disk space needed to store the files of your website.Disk space depends on the type of your website. If your site is mostly text it is going to take much less disk space than website which consists of videos or some other heavy files. Just as every other aspect of hosting disk space is also becoming cheaper, but beware of „ unlimited disk space offers“.

Control panel. Control panel is used to control your hosting account. You will use control panel to setup your CMS or content management system, setup mail addresses and other programs you might use on your website. Most popular is Cpanel but there are also other solutions such as Plesk or DirectAdmin.

 Support. Just as with every other service you need decent support from your provider in case of any problems. This support can be via e-mail or by phone. Good hosting provider offers quick support and help to resolve problems you might have with your account. It is smart to choose a provider which you can call ( calls can get complicated if you are based in Australia and your hosting provider is based in Canada ).

Uptime/downtime. Server which hosts your website needs to be operational and connected to internet in order to serve your webpages to visitors. In case that server is unavailable for any reason your website is not accessible. This can have detrimental effect on your image, business performance and way search engines rank your site. You want to hit at least 98% uptime.

How many shared hosting companies are there?

Only in USA there is over 18.000 hosting companies. Worldwide, number is much bigger. Some of this companies are big  corporations, while others are small operations. Some are huge impersonal providers serving millions of websites while other serve small specialized niches. Some specialize in hosting certain CMS, like WordPress or Joomla. With this huge number it can get difficult to choose the best provider for the type of the website you want to run.

Can I use hosting reviews website to see which one is the best?

There are many review sites on internet, and some of them provide good independent reviews of hosting companies. You have to note that review sites usually recommend some providers and make money from advertising. You also have to be aware that just as all websites are different so are the hosting companies. Hosting company which might be perfect for your website might prove as not the best solution to someone else.

You should definitely try to browse some of the review sites in order to get a feeling on some basic parameters described above, but also try to evaluate the review site, is it really trying to provide you the value to reach your decision or is it just marketing.

How much bandwidth do I need for my website?

When you decide that you want to build a blog or website,  first question which will usually come up is  how much bandwidth do I need?

When comparing different hosting packages one of most important parameters is bandwidth.

 What is bandwidth?

Amount of data which is transferred to a website and from a website in a certain period of time is bandwidth.

Data is transferred in 2 ways.

1) When you upload something on your website, like video or file.

2) When someone opens a webpage on your site or downloads a file from it.

Why is this important?

It is important because the price of your hosting package will usually depend on the  bandwidth size  that you plan to use.

How much bandwidth do I need for my website?

This depends on  several factors.

First you need to think about the  structure of your website and its main features. If you plan to build plain textual site with some pictures included your bandwidth need will be lower.

In case that you plan to build multimedia site with videos, animations etc. This will increase your bandwidth needs.

If you are looking for web hosting provider my suggestion is to use Bluehost.

There are thousands hosting providers in the world, but based on my experience so far I can recommend Bluehost. There are few reasons for this.

1) Simplicity Bluehost is very simple to use. This hosting provider has worked on making hosting service very simple to install and use for ordinary people.

2) Webhosting uptime of 99,9%.

3) Support. They provide support by email, chat or phone ( very important).

4) WordPress recomended. WordPress recommends Bluehost as one of best hosting providers. They also offer super simple one click install of WordPress.

5) Affordable Price. Last reason is that they offer very affordable prices 5$-6$ per month wich is very good for this level of service.

This blog is hosted on Bluehost as well as many other famous blogs on internet.

Signing up with them is very simple just go to Bluehost web page and click the Sign Up Now button.

How is bandwidth calculated?

Calculating how much bandwidth you need is actually relatively simple.

Multiply the average size of your page with number of visitors to your site.

Why it is important to know average size of your pages?

First of all not all of your pages will be equal in traffic, people will visit some of your pages more often than other, your homepage for example, especially should be well optimized to increase speed of your site and avoid wasting bandwidth, as it will probably be one of more visited pages.

Your bandwidth need will mostly depend on what you want to place on your website.

EXAMPLES:

 Step 1. Determine what will be the average size of a page or post on your website.

You have several possibilities here, if you plan to have mostly textual site your page size will be quite low.

Including some pictures  will increase the size of your pages.

Including a lot of big pictures on your website  will significantly increase the size of your pages.

One common mistakes we see in blogs are posts with a lot of unoptimized pictures.Pictures, especially unoptimized pictures, increase the size of your pages!

Placing videos on your pages will also increase the average size, even more than pictures.

If your pages contain a lot of video content expect that the average size of your page will be quite high.

If you want to place files for download on your website, it can significantly increase the size of a website.

Especially watch out for the size of your most visited pages. Usually one of most visited pages will be your homepage. It is very common to find big unoptimized homepages. Try to avoid this.

When you have finished with assessing what the structure of your website will be and you have some idea of average size of your pages go to step 2.

How can I asses the average size of my pages? Easy. Use this tool to check speed and size http://tools.pingdom.com/fpt/.

Step 2. Try to asses the number of visitors to your website.

Be realistic here. When you asses potential number of visitors build in some buffers. Multiply the number of visitors with certain buffer factor to allow yourself margin of error.

Step 3. Multiply the average page size with the number of visitors and your buffer factor.

This is how you will detrmine your website bandwith need.

 To conclude.

Website with small average size of webpage can sustain higher number of visitors with the same bandwidth than website with bigger size of webpage.

If we have monthly bandwidth of 20GB ( 20.000 MB) and our average webpage size is 1MB.

This means that we can have 20.000 monthly visitors to our websites before we run into troubles with bandwidth.

Complicated pages with lots of visual content and size of 10MB  mean that we can  have only 2000 visitors to our site before we exhaust our bandwidth limit.

Or imagine that you build your site with files which can be downloaded. The size of this files can easily exaust your bandwith limit.