Daniel Scocco over at DailyBlogTips recently posted an article entitled, “15 Things I Wish I Knew When I Started Blogging“.
Point number 11 was especially interesting:
“Shared Hosting Sucks
When I started my first blogs I obviously went with a shared hosting plan, and since I couldn’t compare it with anything else I thought it was a decent option.
A couple of years later I moved to a dedicated server, and only then I realized how bad shared hosting plans are. The slow loading speeds, the downtimes, the security holes created by other users on your server….”
Harsh words. But could Scocco have a point? Could shared hosting, in comparison to dedicated serving, suck? The verdict will affect a lot of users and a lot of hosts.
Unfortunately for Scocco, the answer isn’t all that simple. Shared web hosting is by no means perfect, but it’s still the best solution for most.
The Case Against Shared Hosting
Shared web hosting involves taking a single physical server and cramming it with hundreds, if not thousands, of accounts and websites. This allows a host to offer insanely low rates, as low as a dollar per month in some cases.
Those low rates might seem like a good thing, and can be if no resources are stretched, but things don’t often work out like that.
- If sites on shared hosting accounts suffer any kind of traffic spike, they are usually shuttered. This is a defense mechanism to protect the other sites on the server. This restriction makes any kind of social media marketing nearly impossible because any successes will sink the server.
- Watch out for the bad neighbor effect. Because shared web hosting accounts are not as segregated as VPS accounts, the actions of one can impact many. This includes slow loading times, security risks or blacklisted emails.
- The biggest problem with shared hosting is that the business model requires the host to oversell; more resources are promised than are available. This strategy works because few sites use anywhere near their quota, but the server is still pushed to its limit. The most common side-effect is a slower loading time across all the server’s sites.
So yes, there are a lot of ways shared web hosting sucks and most of those problems are solved by switching either to a VPS or a dedicated server. However, even Scocco admits that most people will have to start out on a shared hosting account and that, in truth, it ain’t all bad.
In Defense of Shared Hosting
Despite the flaws of shared hosting, it does one thing incredibly well: provide cheap hosting.
In many cases, shared hosting is the only way for a site to get on the Web, and that’s what matters.
The second thing that shared hosting does particularly well is to keep things simple. There is a major leap in difficulty between a shared hosting account and a VPS or dedicated server; shared hosting means those who lack technical clout are still able to run a site.
Finally, the severity of the problems listed above vary wildly from host to host. Though every company oversells to some degree, some do so far less than others. Different hosts also approach security issues with different levels of competence.
This is why prospective customers must read up on hosting reviews. You should always research a new company and check for serious or recurring problems before signing up for any kind of account.
Have faith: there are excellent shared hosting packages out there and, despite the disadvantages, there are many thousands of satisfied customers.
Although I believe shared hosting ain’t all that bad, I actually have to agree with Scocco’s conclusion:
“I know we all must start on shared hosting, but as soon as your blog start making some money (e.g., $300 per month or so), consider investing half of that into a dedicated server.”
Scocco views shared hosting as a necessary evil, a stepping stone to greater things and, for the most part, I have to agree. Leaping to a dedicated server may be a bit too much, but a leap to a VPS or even a good grid/cloud host is definitely worth considering.
The bottom line? As soon as money and technical expertise allow, don’t host a site that you are serious about on a shared hosting account. If any significant part of your income comes from a site, it should not live on a shared account longer than necessary.
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