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If you’re interested in putting a website online, you’ll need a server to host the site’s information and distribute it to your visitors. While some people use their own servers, it’s common to outsource to a hosting provider.
Learn how shared web hosting compares to other common kinds of web hosting. We’ll also walk you through starting with shared web hosting — whether starting from scratch or switching from an existing hosting arrangement.
- Shared hosting allows many people to use the same server and resources while the provider handles the technical aspects.
- Shared hosting is affordable and doesn’t require many technical skills but is less reliable and gives you less control over your site than other hosting options.
- Finding the right provider depends on your needs, uptime, support, and other factors.
Shared web hosting allows multiple people to use the same server. Providers typically hold each user to a certain limit on server resources, ensuring the server remains accessible to all users. Even though you’ll share resources with other sites, providers generally take measures to prevent them from impacting your performance.
Since the server is shared among several users, the provider typically handles tasks such as maintenance, setup, and configuration. Instead of setting up your own server, you can leave the technical side of hosting to your provider and manage your site easily through the built-in control panel. Shared hosting plans often come with 24/7 customer support to answer any questions or technical issues.
How dedicated servers work
In contrast, dedicated server plans provide an entire server for an individual website. Since dedicated servers aren’t used by anyone else, they generally come with more control than you can get from a shared hosting plan. Those advantages make dedicated hosting significantly more expensive — one reason why many small websites opt for shared hosting.
There’s no right or wrong answer regarding shared web hosting vs. other hosting arrangements. While shared hosting is perfect for some businesses, it’s impossible to recommend it for every possible use case.
Virtual private server hosting
Virtual private server (VPS) hosting is another popular option. It still splits server resources between your site and other users, but each user gets their own virtualized server instead of sharing the same server instance.
Dividing the physical server into multiple virtual instances eliminates the need to share resources, potentially leading to higher speeds and less downtime for your site. While shared servers put every user on the same server with access to a common pool of resources, VPS hosting gives you a clearly defined portion of those resources along with more control over your virtual server.
Shared web hosting may look like the most practical solution if you want to get your new site up and running. It’s the most affordable way to host a website, allowing you to get started for only a few dollars per month. However, shared hosting arrangements come with some notable limitations.
Pros of shared web hosting
- Lower prices
- Less work to set up and manage
- No technical skills are required
The key advantage of shared web hosting plans is affordability. Beyond its pricing, shared hosting plans also come with lower barriers of entry compared to other forms of web hosting. Your provider will maintain the server and enable you to manage your account, site, and more through a dedicated control panel. Shared web hosting is usually convenient if you don’t want to be responsible for the technical side of your hosting arrangement.
Cons of shared web hosting
- Reduced control over your hosting
- Less reliable performance, especially for high-traffic sites
- Other sites may impact performance on your server
A big drawback of shared hosting is that you don’t get root access like you do with dedicated web hosting. Another downside of shared web hosting is its unpredictable speeds, particularly for large sites or those receiving large traffic volumes. Your provider will restrict your resource utilization, and you may be charged extra or experience longer load times if you go beyond the allotment.
First, find a provider that fits your needs and upload your site to its servers. Whether using web hosting for the first time or switching from an existing plan, you can get started quickly and seamlessly using your provider’s setup instructions. While the specifics may vary from provider to provider, the process will largely be similar regardless of the platform you’re using.
Choosing a web hosting provider
When selecting a shared hosting provider, consider uptime, customer support, scalability, disk space and bandwidth limits, and ease of use. Your provider will walk you through setting up your new website.
Hosts like Squarespace and Wix have a website builder, while others only offer stand-alone hosting. Some stand-alone hosts provide easy access to third-party website builders such as WordPress, Joomla, Drupal, Magento, and phpBB.
Switching to shared web hosting
If you are switching from another web host, you must migrate your website to the new provider. Fortunately, that process isn’t as complicated as it sounds. Most web hosting providers offer free migration assistance, so you usually won’t be responsible for the migration.