Shared web hosting, also called virtual hosting, is the most cost effective way to host a web site. It is the most common form of hosting service. As the name implies, shared hosting means your website resides on a web server that is shared by other websites. CPU, memory, bandwidth, storage, etc. are shared across all sites on a given server. The cost of shared website hosting is the reason for it’s popularity. While the server resources are shared so too are the costs and this allows for very affordable hosting.
Price is of course the main feature of shared hosting and understandably so. Because there are many sites on the same server, advanced features and add-ons such as traffic reporting, e-commerce software, and databases are most times included with the price. These features are often additional charges on other types of hosting plans because they can be expensive for the host to offer on a single server for a single site but once it is on the server and many people will be using it, the cost is shared by all. Server management is also less of an issue for shared hosting. The web host manages the server and you have control over your site with an online control panel. These control panels are great tools that let any level of user manage all the important aspects of a website. Sharing the costs allow each user to have their own control panel.
While price is the primary reason to choose a shared hosting plan, the biggest disadvantage is the sharing. Site performance is typically the biggest complaint about shared website hosting. It’s possible that one user can adversely affect the performance of your site if theirs is monopolizing the pooled resources. Web server software usually allow hosts to localize errors or CPU utilization to each virtual site to prevent one site from affecting others. Still, problems do occur and all the websites on a server can be severely slowed or even go down.
If its possible one site can affect the others on a given server, this will also limit your own options for special software, CPU, memory or bandwidth requirements. Web hosts try to balance websites on a server and shared hosting is the most restrictive type of hosting. Make sure to review the terms of service for any web host before registering. Many of fine print detailing exceptions or additional fees.
Shared hosting gives anybody the option of having their very own website. It’s inexpensive and feature rich. A vast majority of users will find it to be more than sufficient for their needs and can rely on having their website up and running with little or no effort. If your outlook for the website is a modest personal or business website, shared hosting should be your first option.