Shared or Dedicated Web Hosting?

The Difference between Shared and Dedicated Web Hosting

There are two basic types of web hosting packages – shared and dedicated. This article will explain what the terms mean and how to choose an appropriate type of hosting for your web site.

Websites are stored on servers. These are network computers that respond to data requests over the Internet. Each server has its own Internet Protocol (IP) address. An IP address is four numbers separated by dots, e.g. 123.456.78.9

A web site that uses dedicated hosting has the server all to itself. This means that all the resources of the server as well as the IP address are unique to that web site. Shared hosting, on the other hand, places several websites on the same server, all of them sharing resources and the same IP address. 

Shared hosting is much cheaper than dedicated hosting because the cost of operating the server is split between many different customers. Shared hosting is available for as little as $2 a month but dedicated hosting could cost up $100 a month or more.

Shared Hosting

As mentioned above, websites that share a single server are sharing all the resources of that computer. This includes disk space and bandwidth as well as the IP address. In order to provide adequate service to all sites on a server, your host will limit each site to a certain amount of disk space and bandwidth used per month. Sites that exceed these limits may have to pay a hefty penalty.

Since each server has a limited amount of bandwidth, the amount of traffic your neighbours receive can affect how quickly your web site is displayed. Each request coming in to the server is dealt with in the order it was received, so if there is a large queue, there will be a long wait.

The number of sites that are sharing a particular server is not as important as the amount of traffic each site receives. A server hosting 200 low traffic sites will respond much faster than one which has 50 sites that are receiving a lot of visitors.

There are some risks associated with shared hosting. If one of your neighbours runs a badly programmed script that runs amok the entire server could be affected. In extreme cases this could cause your site to be inaccessible for a time. Another risk is that if one of your neighbours is banned from search engines (for spamming tactics, for example) it could affect everyone sharing that IP address. Check with your hosting company to see their policy about third-party scripts and inappropriate activity.

Dedicated Hosting

With a dedicated server all the resources are yours to use as you please. You can use it to host a single site or multiple sites, you have access to the full bandwidth of the server, and you can use as much disk space as necessary.  Companies with large complex websites that receive a lot of traffic need to have dedicated hosting. Sites that use a dedicated server are also free to run any kind of script they wish. This may be ideal for those who are developing new scripts and need to test them without affecting other websites.

How to Choose Between Dedicated or Shared

Small websites are usually better off with shared hosting. The cost is more affordable, especially for small companies and individuals. A reputable host will be careful not to allow activities that could jeopardize your site. Large complicated sites that receive more than 1000 visitors a day are better off with dedicated hosting. It is also a good choice for developers who wish to experiment with new Internet technologies.

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