Did you know that 90% of the sites online are set up on a shared hosting account? Which means they share the same server resources sometimes with hundreds or even thousands of other sites. If you’re reading this and have your own small online business or think about having one, it is likely you had, still use or will choose a shared hosting plan for your first endeavors. The decisive reasons why we start from a shared server usually are the reduced cost and the minimum requirements of technical skills you need to operate a site (or more) under a shared hosting account.
But running a site on a shared hosting account is not without its adventures. I’m far from being an expert in server administration, but as a one-man operation I had to learn and improve myself in areas where I lacked expertise.
The administration of the server itself is in the hands of the webhosting staff. Which is good if you are not a technical person.
But if you have a growing online business, here are some areas where you will most likely hit the roof of your hosting plan setup:
- no or limited live support
- resource limitations: CPU, memory, bandwidth, disk space, maximum concurrent connections to the database. The more sites are hosted on the shared server, the stricter these limitations get and are likely to cause performance issues.
- you are constrained to use the available software; you can’t install new software or upgrade an existing one on the shared server
- limited configuration ability: for instance, it’s unlikely you will have access to change the settings of the Apache server, if that’s what is installed on the shared server
- security concerns. Sharing server resources has its risks. A loophole in one of the sites hosted on the same server may be exploited to have access to all of the sites on that server. But chances are a VPS or dedicated server will be on your list before the security concerns.
A site hosted on a shared server will absorb well low levels of traffic, which is enough in most cases. But spikes in the traffic to your website are likely to trigger some of the limitations imposed to your account.
Which means a growing site will eventually need to move to a Virtual Private Server or to dedicated server(s).
But for newbies, I think ideally you should know other owners who use the same hosting service and their businesses have comparable traffic levels to yours. If you run into difficulties that the other owners don’t, it might be of your own doing. You should most likely try to optimize your site before considering an upgrade of the hosting service.