For most customers, choosing either shared or dedicated web hosting is a no-brainer. While shared hosting is better for small scale websites, dedicated hosting is better for websites that receive lots of traffic and require a significant amount of resources.
However, for the mid-range business, choosing between the two can be quite a task. For many, the mystery lies in the future, as well as whether or not dedicated hosting is worth the expense in the meantime. These days, it’s especially difficult for business owners to make a confident choice between the two when hosting providers are quick to use the word, “unlimited” with virtually any type of package.
With this comprehensive guide in hand, making a definitive choice between shared or dedicated website hosting should become a bit easier. Here, you’ll get a glimpse at the features offered by both, as well as how they differ from each other.
Disk Space / Bandwidth
Shared Hosting – It’s a good idea to always assume that shared hosting will come with capped disk space and bandwidth. Shared hosting is a term used by hosting providers to quite literally describe shared resources. This also applies to disk space and bandwidth. When shopping for hosting packages, remember to inquire about each provider’s “soft limit.” Keep your current traffic level in mind before making any decisions.
Dedicated Hosting – This type of hosting is a much more flexible option; it is often recommended to customers who already (or plan to) receive massive amount of user traffic. In some cases, hosting providers will offer unlimited amounts of disk space and bandwidth to customers who purchase dedicated hosting packages.
Level of Control
Shared Hosting – To keep it as simple as possible, shared hosting is often better for those who are less knowledgeable and experienced in the area of website maintenance. However, hosting packages that are managed by the provider frequently come with drawbacks. Limitations can affect the scripting language used for your website, file-types, and more. Those that are merely looking for something simple will benefit the most from shared hosting.
Dedicated Hosting – This type of hosting makes it possible to completely control your website down to the server level. However, it also requires an ample amount of technical know-how and experience. The perks of dedicated hosting include, but aren’t limited to total customization (in terms of software and scripting), independent trouble-shooting, total control, etc.
In certain cases, it’s possible to purchase a dedicated hosting package without having plans of maintaining it. This is only really possible if you plan to leave the maintenance task to an experienced individual or a team of IT professionals. This hosting option is sometimes described as “managed dedicated.” Most hosting providers will offer to help you manage your dedicated server for an additional cost.
Shared Hosting – When it comes down to cost, the reason people go with shared hosting is rather simple. Shared hosting is virtually always the more affordable option. Many providers will advertise their shared hosting packages as “dirt cheap,” but as with any other good or service, there’s always a reason behind low prices. The performance of shared hosting in comparison to dedicated hosting is rather poor. However, this shouldn’t discourage you from considering shared hosting as an option. For a business with little needs, it often turns out to be a sound investment.
Dedicated Hosting – While the pros of using dedicated hosting surely outweigh the cons, the plan itself is costly. More power, resources, and space will always come with a heightened cost. Don’t forget; this type of hosting package is a great investment if your website is projected to receive (or already receives) heavy traffic.
Shared Hosting – It’s not a secret that your users will have a better experience on your website if it performs well. The difference between shared or dedicated website hosting is that the former comes with limited resources, and this means its performance might not always be favorable. To get a better idea of how shared hosting could cause your performance to dip, consider this scenario: You operate a website with a mediocre amount of traffic on a shared server. Another website on your server suddenly receives a surge in traffic from a new advertising campaign they’ve recently launched. The server will automatically allocate a large chunk of its resources to the other user’s website to support the influx of new traffic. As you would suspect, this affects your website’s performance due to the dip in resource availability.
This can increase server response time on your end, creating an unpleasant situation for your visitors. Likewise, if your website receives a large amount of traffic in comparison to the other users on your shared server, you could be charged additional fees or even penalized.
Dedicated Hosting – On the other hand, customers with dedicated hosting are always prepared for rushes in traffic. This is simply because they have no other users with which to share server resources. Essentially, dedicated hosting is a great choice for anyone with who already experiences a moderate flow of traffic that could easily spike and/or rise in the future.
Shared Hosting – In terms of security, websites on shared servers are much more vulnerable to crashes, errors, or even malicious behavior. This is mainly because shared servers are utilized by multiple websites. For instance, another website on a shared server could execute a corrupt script, causing the entire server to lock up and crash. This is one way in which the decreased security of shared hosting can directly affect your website.
Dedicating Hosting – Those who host their websites on dedicated servers will always have a more secure experience. While the dedicated hosting subscriber will be able to use many different types of software and scripts, the hosting provider will always keep an eye on the server to ensure it’s operating correctly.