Key Differences between Shared Hosting and Dedicated Hosting Services

A comparison between Shared and Dedicated web hosting.


Hosting

If you own a medium sized business, choosing right web hosting plan can be a big challenge. You may get confused to decide whether to go for shared web hosting plan or dedicated web hosting plan. At the start of your business, it is somehow more challenging to determine between your current and future need. Moreover, “Unlimited Everything” madness of every web host can make things even more worst.

In this article, I’ll discuss key differences between shared web hosting and dedicated web hosting plans to make it easier for you to take the right decision.

Different Types of Web Hosting Services Explained
Learn more about what are the different types of web hosting services and what best suits your business needs.

Let’s start with a short introduction of shared and dedicated hosting services before we jump into the comparison.

Shared Hosting — The Budget Option

Shared web hosting is a service where hosting server is shared among tens of hundreds of other websites running on the same server and completing for resources such as memory and bandwidth. Web hosts provide you a control panel with management tools to manage your website whereas hosting server is directly managed by web host itself.

Shared hosting is a budget option suitable for beginners. Since it is extremely cheap, it may not be very good. Let me explain further why.

Imagine how a shared web server is configured? It is a computer with resources like hard drive space, CPU speed and RAM. The host puts a large number of users on a single server — by large number I mean that it can be over 2,000 users. Each user may have a number of sites so that one single server hosts somewhere around 6,000 sites.

The problem is that these websites all share the server’s resources. If one website has some buggy code or simply gets a lot of visitors it could eat 80% of a server’s memory let’s suppose, which means that the other 5,999 sites are left with just 20% of the total RAM.

Dedicated Hosting — Fast but Expensive

This is the hosting service that nullify all issues of shared web hosting because you are all alone on a server. This provides a reliable host that can serve large number of daily visitors without screwing up. There are different ways to achieve resources dedication. It can either be a dedicated server or achieved via virtualization called Virtual Dedicated Server Hosting (VDS) or Virtual Private Server Hosting (VPS). In VPS hosting service, a particular section of a server with fixed resources is set aside for you so that it gives you a “feeling” like a dedicated server despite of the fact that it is actually shared.

Since you get a computer all yours, many dedicated hosting companies allow you to customize it sizable. You may be able to choose the amount and type of memory, the OS to install, and other hardware elements that make up a computer. This gives you a lot of flexibility which may be needed to run some specialized software.

But it has few drawbacks. First, you need to know quite a lot about computers and server technologies. Although there are managed dedicated hosting solutions but you’ll still need to do a lot more on your own. Second, you may get a completely unmanaged host where you would even need to install the OS yourself, all the tools needed to run a web server, security scanning, malware removal and so on. I wouldn’t say this a downside, but it is something you need to know upfront before buying such a plan.

What is the Difference then?

At this point, we have got a fair understanding of what is shared web hosting and what is dedicated hosting. Let’s look into the details how these plans differ based on performance, security, bandwidth & disk space, cost etc.

1. Sites Hosted

Shared Hosting: With a shared web hosting plan, there can be hundreds of other websites that are hosted on the same server along with your website. The server resources are also shared among all hosted websites.

Dedicated Hosting: Since dedicated hosting plan includes no other website which is sharing resources with your website(s), you have freedom to utilize those resources as per your needs. You may want to host your multiple websites on the same server.

2. Bandwidth & Disk Space

Shared Hosting: With shared hosting package, the amount of bandwidth and disk space, you are allotted, is limited because there are other websites sharing the server. Few web host may charge you extra money if you surpass allotted limit. Be aware that most web hosting companies advertise their shared web hosting plans with “Unlimited Everything” marketing tag. But the fact is that it always has limit. You can’t use the “Unlimited” bandwidth and disk space in one go. They allow you to use an unspecified amount. But only web host gets to decide how much that amount should be!  I’d advise to ask your web host about the “soft limit” and make your decision based on the volume of the traffic you are expecting to receive and disk space required.

Dedicated Hosting: If you have a website or blog that gets massive volume of traffic, dedicated hosting is the best available option. With dedicated hosting, bandwidth and disk space are dedicated to you only so there is no resources sharing and no limitations on the amount of space available. There are few web host which actually offers unlimited bandwidth and disk space.

3. Performance

The higher the performance of your website, the better will be your visitors’ user experience. Server performance and response time should be most the important parameters to decide which web hosting plan suits you the most. With the evolution of search engine – such as Google Search, Bing etc. – algorithms, website response time is very critical in search engine ranking. Google attaches high importance to server response times in making decision to show the first page search results.

Shared Hosting: Since a shared hosting plan has limited shared resources, you can never be assured of your website or blog performance. Imagine a situation where your blog receives average number of visitors daily. Another website administrator on the same shared server runs an aggressive marketing campaign and experiences a massive surge in the traffic. In this situation, the shared server will utilize most of its resources to handle that user’s traffic, thus affecting the performance of your website.

The ultimate result will be that your website will take longer time to load, causing nuisance to your hundreds of thousands of visitors. This situation can be reversed, if your website visitors surge unprecedentedly, it may slow down the other users’ websites. In worst scenario, some shared hosting  providers may even penalize you or may charge you more for using additional bandwidth.

Dedicated Hosting: In dedicated hosting plan, you don’t have to worry about another user’s traffic. The server resources are entirely dedicated to your website(s) and you can grow your traffic as you want without any issue of downtime. Some dedicated hosting providers even allow you to upgrade the hosting plan in case if the current setup becomes insufficient. Final words, if you have a decent volume of traffic and you want to provide a great experience to your users, dedicated hosting is the ideal choice.

4. Security

Shared Hosting: Although the hosting company installs firewalls and other server security applications and programs, the basic setup of shared hosting makes it less secure than a dedicated hosting plan. It is because your website will be on the same server which is shared by many other websites. A single faulty script running on the server can crash the whole server.

Moreover, there are high chances of getting blacklisted by search engines because of someone else on the same server engaging in spamming or unethical internet practices which lead to entire server IP address blacklisted.

Dedicated Hosting: Dedicated hosting server is more secure and reliable. There are less chances of IP address blacklisting too as you are the only one who has access to the server. Securing a dedicated server can be a challenge for you if you are not aware of best security practices. You will be able to control the security programs installed as you want. Besides that, the web host continues monitoring the dedicated server to ensure that your website is running smoothly.

5. Control

Shared Hosting: Shared hosting is perfectly suited to those website or blog owners who don’t have the knowledge to manage and control everything. Web host provides a control panel to shared hosting customers to manage everything from web interface. There are limitations on the type of scripting languages and kind of files that can be used or run on the server. If you are not intended to run advance applications and don’t need advance features to run your website, shared web hosting can be an economical choice.

Dedicated Hosting: If you need total control over the server resources, you should choose dedicated hosting plan. It will give you full control over your preferred programs, applications and scripts. You will have improved flexibility and security which is much beneficial in long run. But you should have some technical knowledge and experience to manage such a hosting account. It allows you to run almost any kind of software and support various programming & scripting languages. You can fully customize the environment based on your targeted needs.

Since managing a dedicated hosting plan requires advance skills, if you can not do it yourself, you may need to hire and maintain a dedicated team of server administrators. It may incur extra cost and may exceed your allocated budget. So I would recommend to know before hand how and who will manage dedicated hosting account to avoid extra costs in later phase.

There are few web hosts which offer managed dedicated hosting plan. Such a plan is managed by web host itself for an additional fee.

6. Average Cost

Shared Hosting: Affordability is one of the biggest reasons why so many small to medium scale businesses and many web professionals go for shared web hosting plans. Shared web hosting is generally less expensive than dedicated hosting, but a great deal depends on the offered package.

Many web hosting companies offer very cheap prices for shared hosting plans, but it comes at a cost – poor performance. Standard shared plans – which may or may not include database access, PHP capabilities, shared SSL, FTP, a stats package, Python support and cgi-bin – start from $4.99 per month to $49.99 per month now a days. This includes memory ranging from 512 MB to unlimited and bandwidth from 10 GB to unlimited. Most of the companies only mention operating system – Linux or Windows – and there is no information about the processor on the server.

InMotion Hosting offers unlimited bandwidth, unlimited disk space with free SSD (Solid State Drive) storage, a free domain and 90 days money back guarantee starting from just $4.89 per month. I had used couple of other web hosting companies for shared hosting but finally settled with InMotion Hosting. If you don’t need much disk space and bandwidth, check out SiteGround StartUp plan starting at $3.95 per month which is another decent option for small to medium scaled websites. Bluehost shared hosting basic plan starts from $3.45 with unlimited bandwidth and 50 GB disk space which is another worth trying option.

Dedicated Hosting: There are many advantages of using dedicated server hosting. But these features come at a very high price. The cost of dedicated web hosting ranging from $49.99 per month to $499 per month depending on your needs. This includes 50 GB to 10 TB SSD disk space, 1 TB to unlimited bandwidth, and high computing power – 1 CPU core to 32 CPU cores.

There are many top web hosting companies offering dedicated hosting plans such as InMotion Hosting, SiteGround, Bluehost, DreamHost, A2 Hosting & 1&1 Hosting.

Conclusion

The type of hosting that you should choose will solely depend on your business needs, the number of websites you want to host, your estimated budget, server and website needs and the amount of control that you desire. I’d suggest to do more research & consult with people who have technical skills to make a wise decision. If your website runs perfect on a shared web host or you’re just starting out, shared hosting can prove economical and there may not be enough reasons to make the investment of time and money to shop a dedicated server.

Need further help to decide the right host? If you are confused to decide what exactly you need or looking for any assistant, feel free to write to us. We’d love to help you out!

Don’t forget to tell us in comments what decision you’ve made and why!

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attacomsian

A passionate programmer, domainer, writer and photographer! Love writing about web development, latest trends in technology and domain name industry. Working hard to make the world a better place! Follow me at Twitter @attacomsian or visit my website www.attacomsian.com

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