After you have completed the first important step of building your website, it is time to take it live via a hosting service. For many people, exploring shared web hosting might be a favorable option. When looking at pricing, functionality, etc., shared server hosting can easily be a small business’ best friend.
Overview: What is shared hosting?
Simply put, a shared hosting plan is when multiple websites use (or share) a single server as their host. This is an anonymous sharing, generally, as you don’t know who your site neighbor is, nor will they know who you are.
You simply share the resources of one server to go live online. Because several sites are hosted on one server, there are typically limitations on the total amount of resources a single site can use, such as traffic and bandwidth caps.
For most small businesses and smaller sites, those limitations are well within reason, and the economic benefits of a shared plan make it well worth it as part of your site management strategy.
Advantages of using shared hosting
Shared hosting providers are a favorite option for many business owners — for good reason since these plans offer many advantages (like a lower price point) for small businesses and their web needs.
Shared domain hosting is by far the cheapest hosting option, running anywhere from under a dollar per month to usually no more than $9.99/month, thanks to it taking fewer resources.
Easy to upgrade
You’re not locked into a plan or shared hosting forever, as most servers have multiple levels of hosting available. You can start with shared hosting and upgrade as needed.
Great place to start learning
If you are brand new to the site creation and hosting world, shared hosting is an accessible way to dip your toe into the waters to learn more without being responsible for coding and other site management tasks yourself.
Easy to use
Shared hosting plans usually come readymade with built-in cPanels (control panels), making site management more intuitive.
There is typically no technical maintenance or knowledge required on your end, as that is part of the shared hosting package.
Because many sites are depending on a single server staying online, shared hosting servers tend to have excellent uptime track records.
Disadvantages of using shared hosting
Of course, while there are many benefits to shared hosting, it does have its own set of disadvantages to take into consideration.
As your site receives more traffic or demands higher functionality, you may see performance and speed impacted because the host must regulate resources to stay equitable.
Slower load times
Since the server’s resources are spread across multiple sites, shared hosting will typically have slower load times than dedicated plans.
The unknown shared sites
Although most neighbor sites will be on the up and up, the fact that you never know who your neighbors are may mean you could be adjacent to some potentially risky websites.
You simply won’t get the same amount of customization options as you do with dedicated hosting, meaning you’ll always be capped in website optimization.
4 tips for deciding if shared hosting is right for your business
Weighing out the various advantages and disadvantages, is shared hosting the right choice for your needs? As you explore your options, keep these concerns in mind.
1. Figure out your budget
A lot of times, the first concern is going to be your business budget and what you can afford.
As mentioned earlier, shared hosting is almost always going to be far less expensive than other options (especially virtual private servers and dedicated servers), since you are using less space and resources, which keeps your costs low.
Determining a max spend you can afford will be important in knowing if you can even spare the cash to opt for anything other than a shared plan.
2. Determine what features and resources you need
Of course, the capabilities and functions you need your site to have is an important consideration.
While shared plans are definitely cheaper, they also have more limited functionalities than dedicated plans. If your site is smaller in size and needs, you likely won’t need to worry about performance limitations.
But if you anticipate large loads of traffic or custom abilities, shared hosting might not be the best choice, as restrictions are placed on shared sites so that the allocated resources (bandwidth, memory, data, etc.) are not all used by one client.
Because of malware fears, some shared plans have restrictions on the types of files that can be uploaded. If you have unique needs, check to make sure there are no applicable file restrictions.
The same security precautions extend to certain plugins and other site functions, so always comb through the available and prohibited features carefully.
3. Take into account the size of your website
Since shared hosting websites are hosted on a single server, there are physical size restrictions inherent.
If your website is too large, it either merely will not fit or will encounter massive caps on its ability to load and perform. Simply put, consider the amount of storage space allowed on a shared plan; if your website is larger than that or you anticipate higher amounts of traffic, then shared hosting won’t be a good fit.
The same line of thinking applies to other websites’ traffic levels, too. Their particular sizes and traffic levels can negatively impact your performance if they outgrow shared parameters.
4. Take into account your tech skills
One of the biggest concerns for small business owners creating a website centers around technical skills.
While a lot of the back end of site-building and hosting can become highly convoluted and require a developer's knowledge, shared hosting plans do keep it simple for you; typically, the hosting service will handle maintenance and managing.
If you don't have coding experience, are a tech newbie, or simply don't have the time to devote to maintaining a server, shared hosting may be all the more attractive.
Shared hosting is often a good choice for small business sites
Though it is certainly not for everyone, the advantages and abilities of shared hosting commonly make it an excellent choice for small business websites, portfolios, personal sites, and blogs.
Because of its low costs, in both time and money, shared hosting keeps things simple so you can devote your resources elsewhere.
Though there are certain caps and limits, most smaller sites won’t be affected by those restrictions for a long time, making shared hosting a great launching pad.
At the end of the day, sharing can be caring, even in the site and server small business world.