Shared hosting is the most common and affordable kind of website hosting.
Shared Hosting Definition: Shared hosting is a type of web hosting service where one server connects multiple websites to the internet. Multiple websites share one web server. Shared hosting is the most common type of web hosting. Shared hosting is also known as virtual shared hosting.
A web hosting provider has multiple, on-site servers. Several partitions are created on each server, those are allocated to individual websites or domain names, hence the term “shared hosting”.
You can picture it as a huge block of apartments (the main building representing the server) with hundreds of units that function as websites. There are rules that every apartment/website owner has to obey, everything has to be balanced. In general, it is called a fair usage policy. For example, if one apartment gets flooded the neighbors won’t be happy. Or if one uses too much water or heat the others will be impacted as well. The same analogy applies to websites using a shared host server.
Types of Shared Hosting
There are two different types of shared hosting: IP-based shared hosting and name-based shared hosting.
IP-Based Shared Hosting
IP-based shared hosting is also known as IP hosting or IP-based virtual hosting. IP based hosting is where each website has its own IP address. IP-based shared hosting is the best choice if you want more power and control over your website and its hosting resources.
Name-Based Shared Hosting
Name-based shared hosting is where the websites share a single IP address. So, there could be 3,000 websites on one server, all with the same IP address. The server uses names to decipher one website from another. With name-based shared hosting the websites that share an IP address must also share the same digital SSL certificate. Learn more about name servers here.
Shared Hosting Pros
Affordable: It is the cheapest web hosting out there! Get the best value by signing up for a year instead of buying a monthly plan. The host will offer a discount for paying for a year in advance.
Convenient: Shared hosting is convenient because it is so easy to set up a new website. In a few clicks your website is up and running.
New: Perfect for new websites with little or no traffic. Shared hosting is the perfect fit for newbies. When your website traffic explodes, (we’re routing for you!) your web host will have you upgrade to VPS or dedicated hosting.
Easy: Shared hosting is great for beginners. You don’t need any technical knowledge to use it. The hosting company is responsible for the administrative tasks and maintenance of your website.
Shared Hosting Cons
High Traffic: Websites with a high amount of traffic (more than 5,000 visits per day) cannot use shared hosting. These websites must use either dedicated or VPS hosting.
Sharing: It’s in the name: up to 3,000 websites share a server and all of the resources that offers. The server resources are split up between the different websites using it.
Customization: You won’t be able to customize your server environment.
How to Get the Most Out of Shared Hosting
Make sure you aren’t going to be competing with other websites for the server’s resources. Some websites will see a spike in traffic, and when that happens, you could see some of those resources taken from your website temporarily until that website upgrades to VPS or dedicated hosting.
Shared hosting has long been the most popular type of hosting package in the industry, both among customers and providers. Because it’s the most cost-effective option, it tends to be the most attractive choice for the ordinary website owner, and as a consequence it serves as a hosting company’s biggest product.
Yet many customers, both prospective and actual, are often not sure what the shared part exactly means. One reason, no doubt, is owing to an understandable lack of general knowledge about how web servers work: there’s not too much need for the average customer to know how things operate under the hood when there are already technicians working to make sure everything runs smoothly. Another reason is the increasingly user-friendly interfaces that make setting up various features, such as email or WordPress, as easy as the click of a couple buttons.
But when choosing a hosting plan, it’s important to know at least the basic features that distinguish it from other options.
New customers are invariably presented with several plans to choose from. The standard candidates are shared hosting, cloud hosting, a VPS, or a dedicated server. In addition, WordPress hosting has increasingly become a common offering in the industry. Finally, at least some of these choices are classified as managed hosting.
So what is shared hosting, and what makes it different from the others?
Shared hosting is simply a hosting plan in which the server you use for your website and email services is shared by multiple customers — often hundreds with larger providers. Operating systems have long had the capability to do this — since the 1960s, in fact — and with the technological advances of the past two decades, servers can very easily handle the often resource-intensive needs of many users simultaneously.
Hosting providers implement strong security practices to ensure the privacy of each customer’s data. It is typically not possible to determine what other websites are being hosted on your server, who else might be logged in at the same time as you, what their usernames could be, or even the contents of their user directories.
Shared hosting does, however, bring with it some limitations, albeit ones that are designed to ensure consistent, stable, and secure service to all of a given server’s customers. A customer will not, for example, have administrative access to the server as a whole. This keeps everyone’s data private, but does mean that if you need a piece of more advanced software installed, you will either need to ask the company’s support to do it for you, or you will need to upgrade to a hosting plan that gives you more control, such as a VPS or a dedicated server.
Another common practice is to limit what are called process counts. A process can be thought of as a program running on your computer. If you have a browser window open, for example, then that ordinarily constitutes a single running process. The more windows of any program you have running, the more processes you have running on your computer. Processes each use a part of the finite supply of both memory and CPU power available on your server. When that supply starts running low, programs will begin to run slower than is ideal, or sometimes simply crash altogether.
Web servers, to be sure, each have massive supplies of dedicated memory and CPU resources. But when that supply is available to dozens, sometimes hundreds, of customers, there is the potential to overburden the server to the extent that things slow to a crawl for everybody. A limit on process counts is designed to prevent such a situation. This cap can range from anywhere between a 10 – 50 concurrently running processes. Common process-generating applications include connections from email apps, as well as database connections generated by websites that use, for example, MySQL, such as those running WordPress.
The vast majority of web hosting customers will never go anywhere near their provider’s process count limit, and are perfectly suited for a shared plan. But if you have a website that is heavily trafficked, or very database-intensive, or if you will be hosting email accounts for dozens of (for example) employees, you may be better served by signing up for a VPS or a dedicated server. Be sure to check out our web hosting reviews to help make your decision.
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