How Many Domains Can I Host on My Account?

Internet address, computer screen

No matter what kind of hosting plan you choose, you’re probably wondering how many domains you can host on one account.

Sometimes your host will limit you to a certain number. Often, your host will let you host ‘unlimited’ domains.

On paper, there is no limit to the number of sites a server can hold, assuming there’s enough storage space. That doesn’t mean it’s a good idea to cram hundreds of domains onto one account, though.

Think Sites – Not Domains

Adding a domain to a hosting account is no big strain. Normally, a few extra lines are added to your server’s configuration files, a new folder is created and, most likely, a new user is created on the account. This in itself won’t use any resources.

It’s the sites that take up the resources, and this is because:

  • Each new site takes up hard drive space, RAM and CPU.
  • Every visit to the site consumes bandwidth to send and receive information.
  • CPU and RAM use increase over time as the site becomes more popular.
  • The more complicated the site, the more processing power it requires to run.

So what can we deduce?

It’s tempting to estimate the impact by weighing up the complexity of the site, the visitor numbers and the bandwidth or processing power that’s needed. But it’s not quite that simple.

Unknown Factors

There are a number of unknown variables affecting hosting accounts, particularly shared hosting accounts:

  • You probably don’t know much about your server’s specs.
  • You probably don’t know how many people you share the server with, so you can’t say what your ‘share’ of the box might be.
  • The complexity of your site can be difficult to gauge. Some servers are more suited to particular types of sites.
  • You can’t predict how many visitors you’ll get, or when traffic spikes may hit.

This leads to a common conclusion: it’s impossible to predict how much hosting resource you actually need. This can result in a big overspend (or an underestimate) when people buy hosting.

Still want to know how many sites to set up? The only way to proceed is to make an educated guess.

Real-World Scenarios

Case studies that show that hosting companies keep, on average, about 200-300 accounts per shared server.

If we estimate that the average user has perhaps 4 active domains, it’s easy to see that a typical physical shared server can hold well over 1,000 sites. (This figure would include a mix of dormant and busier websites, plus sites that are being disabled and reinstated over time.)

Unless you are on a VPS, you probably won’t know for sure how accurate this is. On a shared server, it’s best to go for the safe option and host fewer sites if you can.

Using Resources Wisely

If you’re concerned about hosting too many domains, you’re probably looking at the wrong issue.

The main cause of account overload is normally a traffic spike or a poorly optimised site that slows down its neighbors.

To guard against problems, we recommend a simple three-step safety plan when building up a hosting account.

  1. Start with the biggest site and build slowly. Keep an eye on your statistics and server logs for spikes.
  2. Use plugins like W3 Total Cache to ensure that your sites are speedy and don’t draw too many resources.
  3. Using a CDN, such as CloudFlare, is an economical way to take the load off your server.

If you see a slowdown, or if your hosting company complains, it’s probably time to upgrade to a VPS or dedicated server.

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