Shared hosting is a type of computer hosting where the customer shares one server and its resources with other customers. Shared hosting can provide a cost-effective way to acquire server space and the corresponding services.
The main benefit shared hosting provides is the cost-effectiveness of having very little overhead. Since one server can service multiple customers, there are significant savings when it comes to buying expensive hardware. The expenses for the staff that maintain the equipment is also reduced with shared hosting because less support is required; however, in order to keep things running efficiently, more attention must be paid when errors do occur.
Many webmasters choose shared hosting accounts when they first start out in hopes that when their business grows they will simply upgrade to another package rather than having to move their site altogether. However, some businesses opt for dedicated or virtual private servers since this may better serve their needs as far as security and flexibility goes (although cloud services would possibly serve them better still).
The drawback to using this type of hosting is the lack of control over resource usage and security. A single account can be affected by another customer on the same box. For example, if one customers’ site is specifically targeted because of its high profile or popularity, all users on that server will suffer from a Denial-of-service attack. This may also mean that other websites on the machine can read your files and databases too, making it more likely for an intruder to find and exploit vulnerabilities in their software. No matter how secure a web host advertises their servers to be, they simply cannot guarantee 100% up-time due to an issue with another user’s site (for more information see [Denial-of-service attack]). There will always be a slight risk of one account affecting another.
Shared hosting can typically offer fewer features than dedicated or virtual private servers, however, the customer service offered is usually less thorough as well with many shared hosting providers not having staff available 24 hours per day.
One important factor to consider when researching different types of web hosting services is how much control you want over your website (for more information see [Control vs convenience]). If you want greater flexibility and independence then your best bet would be to go with a Virtual Private Server or dedicate server since they allow the user access to the entirety of the machine’s resources via Remote Desktop Protocol (RDP). However, if all you require is to have a website to capture leads or publish information, a shared hosting account is usually sufficient.
There are several types of shared hosting plans that range from free services such as blogger.com and weebly.com to paid services such as hostgator, bluehost and 1&1 internet (for more information see [Shared web hosting]). The costs associated with creating a website using the free type of accounts may seem irresistible at first glance but in the long run they can be costly since any data your site collects will most likely not be kept private and their ads may also affect your page’s loading speed and bandwidth quota even though it isn’t supposed to. Depending on which plan you sign up for, the features supplied by each service provider could vary widely (for more information see [Web hosting features]).
Some web hosts offer a “virtual private server” often abbreviated as VPS. This type of service will give you root access to your own copy of the operating system for your website but it is still shared with other accounts. The benefits to this type of arrangement are that if one account goes rogue, it won’t affect any others on the machine and there is also less risk associated with being hacked since attacks have to be adjusted for each individual user rather than an entire community. However, just like shared hosting, there can still be hiccups in performance due to resource sharing.
The main benefit Virtual Private Servers provide over Shared Hosting accounts is improved security. A Virtual Private Server will give the user full root-level access to their machine which means they are able to install any programs or scripts desired without restrictions or limitations.
If you plan on running a lot of resource intensive sites on the same server then it may be better to consider purchasing a dedicated hosting solution since this type of service allows you complete control over the bandwidth, memory and storage available for your website. However, dedicating a server to one site can get costly depending on how often your site is accessed by others (for more information see [Dedicated web hosting]). The cost of buying and maintaining such servers is usually passed along to users through higher monthly costs compared with shared hosting services.
The benefits associated with using a Web Hosting service is that it usually comes with software installed to manage the hosting account for you, tools to create databases and web pages, email accounts and an FTP client. These services are easy to use and can be helpful when trying to get your website up quickly but they also come with limitations since users cannot modify or alter some of these features (for more information see [Web hosting control panel]). However, there are several sides to this argument; while Web Hosting providers tend not to allow their customers access deeper into how their websites operate on the back end many people will find the ease of use worth it even if it means sacrificing some independence.
Sites hosted in Windows Azure platform offers scalability (you can Virtual Machine instances on demand). This enables hosting any site with full control.
You can host .NET MVC, NodeJS, PHP or many other web apps on Azure.
There are also several large content delivery networks which will host your website for you at no cost. These services allow websites to have their information distributed across a vast network of servers so that the data is closer to visitors who request it and this reduces page load times since users don’t have to download entire webpages just to see one picture or file (for more information see [Content Delivery Network]).
One drawback associated with using these types of free services is that your hands are tied when it comes to being able to modify the code running behind your site’s pages. This isn’t really an issue if you have a site with static pages since you can set up caching for this type of content, but it could be a problem if your site relies on dynamic scripts to function correctly.
Some hosting providers offer a shared service called Cloud Hosting which basically allows multiple sites with different needs to share the same computing resources resulting in more affordable prices. This option is beneficial when you have several independent websites that don’t rely on each other and only use limited amounts of system resources such as storage or memory. If all of your sites tend to require large amounts of processing power then it may not be cost efficient for you to host them together in the cloud (for more information see [Cloud web hosting]).
One benefit is that your data remains available even if there are any issues with the physical server. Cloud services usually offer additional resources if you need them, which means your site won’t be compromised because of increased traffic or sudden spikes in usage (for more information see [Cloud hosting]).
There’s also an option for users to pay-as-you-go (PAYG) that allows users to subscribe only when they require resources beyond their free allowance. For example, Azure will provide 120 hours per month of web app compute time for free; after this is used up the user can purchase more resources until it becomes too costly for them so at this point they can switch to a smaller plan or let their account lapse until they are ready to use it again. This is preferable instead of paying for a plan that is way more than you need because then you will end up having money tied into unused resources that are just taking up space on your credit card statement.
One disadvantage of this service is the loss of control over the server configuration which might not be required in each case. Also, while some cloud services provide an option to scale out systems manually, others will get you to adapt by acting very quickly when traffic spikes so user have to expect their website to run slower during peak hours until it settles down.
This approach could go either way depending on how much trust you put in the provider’s security measures and whether or not they are still around if something goes wrong with your service. The main advantage associated with using shared web hosting is that you can build and upgrade your web application quickly and with relatively little effort since the hosting provider has already done most of the configuration and setup work for you.
The main drawback, as previously mentioned, is that if there are any security issues or other problems associated with using shared resources then this could affect all users who happen to be sharing those resources at the same time (for more information see [Shared web hosting]).
Another issue is reliability; even though your website may be copied onto multiple drives around the world if one of them stops working then it will take a few minutes for others to pick up the slack which means that during that time visitors might receive error messages instead of seeing your (for more information see [Distributed web hosting]).
On the other hand, if your website receives a lot of traffic and you don’t want to pay for dedicated server resources then this might be an appropriate solution.
This approach is similar to shared hosting but instead of sharing system resources with many different websites it shares those resources with only a few sites which could be considered as being more exclusive than ‘shared’. Some providers allow users to create their own virtual servers which operate as independent units so each site has its own web server, storage area and bandwidth resources. Some providers will apply stricter security measures compared with shared services which makes them more suitable for larger sites that process large amounts of user data since they tend to attract hackers who may try to exploit any existing vulnerabilities using brute force tactics.
On the other hand virtual servers are usually more expensive than shared hosting so it’s preferable to initially start with a lower-cost solution and upgrade only when necessary (for more information see [Virtual web hosting]).
Another issue with this approach is that some users will use up all their resources which could result in others not being able to access them, especially if they pay for these services on a monthly basis (for more information see [VPS hosting]).
There are also issues associated with security; if you get hacked then the attacker might get access to your entire virtual server rather than just one website which means that you will have problems recovering from such an attack since the damage would be spread across multiple sites. It’s also difficult to establish exactly what happened during an attack since if you try to investigate the problem yourself then it might affect your service making it even more difficult for you to recover.