An Introduction to Shared Hosting
What is Shared Hosting?
Shared hosting seeks to run as many websites on a single server as possible. Shared hosting is the opposite of dedicated hosting. Shared hosting is also called high density hosting. Each website has its own partition on the shared server. Shared hosting comes with a number of benefits, but it introduces risks as well.
Why Is Shared Hosting Popular?
Shared hosting distributes the cost of the server, operating system licenses, software applications and support costs across all websites on a shared server. This results in a lower total cost for each site on the shared host. Shared hosting is one of the cheapest forms of hosting a website.
Shared hosting allows the business to focus on managing its website; the server and support are the responsibility of someone else. Small business owners using shared hosting avoid the effort of setting up a web server to host their website. A single computer running continuously to support a website uses about $10 in electricity. Shutting down a PC used to run a website and eliminating the maintenance hassle are some of reasons shared hosting is popular for even small websites and blogs.
Is Shared Hosting VPS Hosting?
The short answer to this question is no. In shared hosting, the service provider sets up one operating system for every website on the shared server. In contrast, virtual private server hosting runs an operating system that permits separate operating systems for each website by using virtualization.
While virtual private server hosting is a form of shared hosting, each operating system and website is treated as if it is the only OS on the server. This costs more money to run and demands more resources, but it also makes VPS more secure. However, virtual private servers (VPS) and shared hosting use the same server to host multiple websites.
The Risks and Results of Using Shared Hosting
Shared hosting does introduce an IT security risk. On a shared host, each website administrator should only see his or her own site. Improperly set up, and the admin could see and affect other sites inadvertently.
If someone is able to access one website on the shared server as an administrator, he or she could then work their way into all of the websites and data stored on the server. However, shared hosting is less complicated to administer, so it can be cheaper to set up and maintain than VPS servers.
The information shared services on the system must be designed for shared hosting. Security permissions must allow worker request identities and process identities to be separate. Worker processes can affect web server performance.
When a shared application pool is used for software applications, such as in an application served through the cloud, users could find themselves denied access to the application due to demand. Shared hosting results in multiple websites competing for the bandwidth allocated for the shared server. Even when the server has had additional cables connected to it and more ports opened, bandwidth is like a highway connecting the server to the internet.
There are only so many roads in and out, and it can only handle so much traffic before a traffic jam and slowdowns begin. If your website starts using so much traffic that it affects other sites on the shared host, the web host may ask you to upgrade to a dedicated server.
Shared hosts have limited CPU, memory and disk space. If you use more memory than your allowed partition, you may pay a premium to get more. Or your site will run into limits on the amount of CPU it can use, affecting performance.
There are occasions where the shared IP address of a shared host causes someone's website to be flagged as a source of spam, even if it is a legitimate small business website.