Shared web hosting: What is it, pros and cons, how to choose one

The hosting service has a significant impact on the operation of your website, online store, or web application. Its type determines both the speed of the website and the scope of its functionalities. For many years, shared hosting plans have been the most popular option. Today, however, they may not suit every website. So let's take a look at the pros and cons of this solution and check how to choose the right shared hosting.

Shared hosting companies share the resources of one high-performance server among many customers using the same server. Because many clients use one server, the cost of the primary account is relatively low. Furthermore, these services are administered entirely by the hosting company; the client receives a convenient administration panel that allows for quick and straightforward account management.

On the other hand, using a shared server is associated with many limitations, including the amount of disk space, the number of email accounts, and the amount of data transferred. Therefore, it is worth considering all the advantages and disadvantages of shared hosting before choosing such a server.

Shared hosting: Pros

  • Low price: Server maintenance costs are spread over many users and are relatively low, and already include ongoing administrative support.
  • Support: By choosing this solution, you will also avoid irregularities in the server's functioning. In most cases, professional technical staff will look after your server 24/7. At the same time, you avoid having to deal with maintenance and troubleshooting any faults yourself.
  • Easy to use: Complete beginners may have trouble understanding many concepts, but using a shared server will be soon enough completely intuitive, and each user can quickly learn how to use this service.
  • Scalability: You can quickly adapt shared hosting resources to your current needs. You can start with a basic plan with fewer resources, but if your website requires a higher plan, you can upgrade it at any time for improved performance.

Shared hosting: Cons

  • Security: Using a shared server, you have no way of controlling potential vulnerabilities such as power failure or cyberattack.
  • Stability: In the shared hosting model, up to 1000 clients can be served on one server, which means that statistically, each will have about 1/1000 of the given server's power and capacity. Therefore, excessive usage of the server by one of the other users may adversely impact your web page's operations.
  • Lack of possibility to configure the server: Due to the nature of the service, users cannot use any server settings, which, given the greater complexity of the web site's operation, can be a big obstacle.
  • Limited Access and Management Options: Hosting users don't have that much flexibility in managing and accessing the server. Ultimately, this is shared hosting, and some changes may affect other users.

How to choose shared hosting

If you are creating your website for the first time, shared hosting will probably be the most suitable for you–it allows you to create a corporate website, online portfolio, blog, or medium-sized online store. Bear in mind, though, that there is no one optimal solution that will satisfy every user. For this reason, we won't tell you which hosting is the best, but we'll point out some elements you should check before making your choice:

  1. UPTIME Shortly put, it’s a percentage value that indicates for how much of the time your server will be operational. Uptime is an indispensable element of the SLA (service level agreement). For example, an uptime of 99% means that the servers are running flawlessly 99% of the time. The higher the uptime value is, the better.
  2. DISK SPACE AVAILABLE Find out how much disk space you’ll have for your needs. After all, remember that disk space is taken up by literally every element of your website: • Website template and software files • Graphic files, photos, videos • Databases • Email accounts • Logs and own backups
  3. DATA TRANSFER It's the same story with data transfer. How much data will you be able to transfer through your server? That includes sending and downloading data alike. And keep in mind that each interaction with your website takes a small part of your data transfer. Therefore you have to make sure it's sufficient for your needs.
  4. LOADING SPEED This element became critical in May 2021, when Google announced their new Core Web Vitals indicators. The loading speed of the largest piece of your website (block of text or image) is one of the three crucial CWVs. Make sure your hosting service will provide you with capabilities that will not cause your website to slow down. Find out the server's response time (shouldn't be longer than 0.2 sec) and where this particular server is located. If your server is located, say, in France, and most of your users come from Poland, they will face a longer loading time.
  5. EMAIL ACCOUNTS Today, an email account in your domain is a global standard. The more people you hire and work with, the more email addresses you need. Make sure your hosting service will allow you to open as many email accounts as possible. And here's another vital element: Ensure these accounts are properly protected with antispam/phishing security measures.
  6. DATA SECURITY The majority of decent hosting companies offer automatic data backups. However, it is worth checking how often these backups happen (once every week, every day, every hour?). Also, ask your service provider for how long they keep the backup copy of your website. The more often copies are made and the longer they are stored, the better. Another vital element related to security is the SSL certificate. Find out whether you can implement one and on what conditions. SSL is a common way to encrypt data that flows through your website. When users are sharing their data (e.g., via the contact form), SSL ensures that any third party cannot intercept the information.

Who is shared hosting for?

Shared hosting is recommended primarily for well-optimized websites and portals that generate less than 50,000 views per day. Therefore, such a solution will work well, for example, for small shops, managed directly by the owner or a small staff. Shared hosting is also a good choice for start-ups in the early stages of evolution, web developers, and other people looking for a test environment for various websites and web projects.


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