Shared vs. Dedicated Hosting: Which Is Right for You?

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You have multiple options when shopping for web hosting services for your small business. Two of the most commonly offered technologies are shared and dedicated hosting. Both are readily available from most hosting companies, but prices vary.

Learn more about shared and dedicated hosting to choose the best one.

Key takeaways: 

  • Shared hosting, one of the most popular types of web hosting available, is ideal for smaller sites that don’t get a huge amount of traffic.
  • Dedicated servers provide full control over advanced web servers; you can configure them in any way.
  • Choosing the right type of web hosting and the correct company to work with is important.

What Is Shared Hosting?

Shared hosting is one of the most popular and affordable types of web hosting available. The hosting company sets up a powerful web server and uses software to create multiple accounts — one for each customer using that server. Each customer has exclusive access to the files and information on their account, so it’s all secure.

A single web server can hold dozens or hundreds of separate accounts. Customers can use each account to host one or more websites. All websites share the system resources on the web server, allowing the hosting company to offer great services to each customer while keeping reasonable prices. This is why shared hosting is the most common option for smaller websites lacking huge traffic.

What are the advantages of shared hosting?

For decades, shared hosting has made it economical for small websites to exist. Individuals and businesses can access a solid web hosting server for a few dollars per month for a basic package. It is the ideal option for many situations, including:

  • Affordability: Shared hosting is almost always the cheapest option. However, the services provided are still typically good despite their low price.
  • Easy to use: The hosting company can set up your web environment automatically as soon as you purchase the service. You can start building your website in just minutes.
  • Efficient use of technology: Having many websites running on one server is an efficient way to use the server’s resources. Since each website gets visitors at different times, the server can easily handle all the requests.

What are the disadvantages of shared hosting?

While shared hosting is reliable for many situations, it isn’t always the best option, especially when compared to a dedicated server. Review the following downsides to shared hosting to make sure you’re aware of them:

  • Performance impacted by other sites: Since all the sites on the server share the resources, what happens to one website can impact the performance of the others. If a site on the same server as yours experiences a huge spike in traffic, for example, it could cause your site to load more slowly or even crash.
  • Growth limitations: If your site gets too large or has too much traffic, the shared server can no longer support it. At this point, the hosting company will likely require you to upgrade to a good virtual private service (VPS) hosting package or even a dedicated server. Fortunately, a site has to get quite large or busy before this becomes an issue.
  • Quality concerns: Choose a top-rated hosting company when using shared hosting. Many discount hosting providers cut corners, resulting in a poor-quality hosting experience.

What Is Dedicated Hosting?

Dedicated hosting is when a single customer is given full access to and control over a single web server. All system resources on that server are used exclusively for one customer. While this type of hosting is most commonly used for larger websites or sites that get a lot of traffic, that isn’t always the case. Some people with smaller sites choose a basic dedicated hosting package because they like having full control over the server.

What are the advantages of dedicated hosting?

Dedicated hosting is the way to go if you want to be the only customer using your server. There are many advantages to using a dedicated server, including these:

  • Full control: Since you’re the only customer using a server, you can have full control over every aspect. You can choose the operating system, installed software, and more.
  • Exclusive access to resources: You won’t share the system resources with other customers. This means you don’t need to worry about your site slowing down due to the actions of another website. It’s also ideal for planning for your future needs.
  • Plenty of price points: While dedicated servers are almost always more expensive than shared hosting, there’s a huge range of price points. If you don’t need a powerful server, you can often find hosting companies with older hardware at an affordable price. On the higher end, you can spend hundreds or thousands of dollars monthly to get premium dedicated hosting.

What are the disadvantages of dedicated hosting?

The following are some of the biggest reasons why small businesses generally don’t go with dedicated hosting:

  • Cost: Dedicated servers are usually a lot more expensive than shared hosting. Even a basic entry-level dedicated server usually costs $50 or more per month, compared to just a few dollars for an entry-level shared hosting account.
  • Points of failure: If you’re running your website on one dedicated server, a hardware failure can quickly take you offline. While hardware failures are rare, they’re something to be aware of.
  • Complicated: If you want full control of the web server, you must know how to manage the environment and have web server experience. Also, you can pay for managed dedicated hosting from your web hosting provider, but that typically costs extra.

How Do You Choose the Best Type of Hosting for Your Business?

Both shared and dedicated hosting are excellent options to consider. Determining the best for your business doesn’t have to be too difficult. Since shared and dedicated servers are so different in their features, most small businesses have no trouble deciding which one to use.

Shared hosting is the obvious choice if you want an affordable hosting option and don’t mind giving up a little control over the environment. But dedicated servers make more sense if your business needs full control over the web server and you don’t mind paying extra.

If you still aren’t sure, it may help you to know most small businesses don’t use a dedicated server for their hosting. Shared hosting is the most popular option, and a VPS is the second most commonly used type of hosting for small businesses.

Read our evaluation of the best hosting providers and the top dedicated server hosting companies.

FAQs About Shared vs. Dedicated Hosting

What are the disadvantages of shared hosting?

Shared hosting is affordable and accessible but entails limited resources such as storage space, bandwidth, and central processing unit (CPU) power. If neighboring sites spike in traffic, it can negatively impact your website’s performance.

Is dedicated hosting more secure than shared?

Dedicated hosting is more secure, and shared plans are more susceptible to cyberattacks.

Are dedicated servers faster than shared?

Dedicated servers load quickly, even during heavy traffic, since the resources are not shared.

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