We’ve all been there before.
You click, you wait, but then…
“This webpage is not available.”
So you move on.
You’re not alone. In fact, 40% of online shoppers will abandon a website that takes more than three seconds to load.
That’s why the shared web host you choose can make or break your business.
And they don’t just determine the speed of your site. Web hosts also store all of your website content and majorly impact your SEO.
But with all the different services and options available, how can you tell if shared hosting is right for you?
Let’s start with the basics…
What is shared hosting?
Shared hosting is a service where several different websites share the resources of one big web server.
You could end up sharing one massive server with a few hundred (or few thousand!) other sites depending on the provider.
Things like CPU time, memory, disk space, broadband, and RAM are shared between multiple accounts, but your information remains secure and separate from other users.
Actually, it’s a lot like having a roommate.
You might split utilities like gas, electric, and some occasional groceries, but your bedroom door is locked and your personal items are just that: personal.
Who is it for?
Shared hosting is a great option for blogs and businesses just getting started on the web.
The service is relatively free of maintenance and has the lowest cost associated with it among all available web hosting options.
Shared hosting is ideal for:
- Small to mid-sized businesses
- Static websites
- Companies with a limited IT budget
- Newbs and low traffic sites
Basically, if you don’t anticipate a ton of web traffic right away, shared hosting is an excellent option to start building a web presence at a very low cost.
Speaking of costs, some shared hosting services start at $2.95 a month. But you’re likely to end up paying between $5 and $10 monthly.
Shared hosting is also very efficient, as you’re not paying for more bandwidth or server speed than you need.
For example, if customers primarily come to your website looking for product information, hours of operation, contact info, or directions, you may never need to upgrade beyond the most basic shared hosting package.
As a bonus, shared hosting providers also come with their own tech support.
In the event of an issue, you can call a professional who’s already familiar with the technology. That means resolving problems more quickly and without keeping a hefty IT staff on hand.
But shared hosting isn’t for everyone…
Who is it not for?
If your website is hugely popular, shared hosting is likely not for you.
Too much traffic on a shared host results in slower performance. And despite some providers promising “unlimited” bandwidth, you’ll likely find the real limitations if you ever get around to reading the fine print.
As a result, if you use too much bandwidth, the host may temporarily drop access to your site to preserve others that are sharing the server.
This is a huge negative for eCommerce sites that rely on images and videos to present their products.
While shared hosts can offer tons of disc space to support storing multimedia, the bandwidth required for playback to a few hundred visitors browsing products will likely present issues for your customers.
Similarly, eCommerce vendors may prefer to have their own private Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) Certificates to encrpyt transactions.
Sure, shared hosts may offer shared SSL certificates, but they will be configured to the server’s host name, not your personal domain name.
As a result, customers will receive a certificate warning from their browser, which may undermine their trust in your organization and cause them to click elsewhere.
Likewise, if you want to be in charge of your own hardware, you may be better suited to a Virtual Private Server (VPS) or Dedicated Server.
While you’re still sharing hardware on a more expensive VPS, there are more features available at your convenience.
You can remotely restart services, modify server files, and create other hosting accounts. All things you cannot do on a shared host.
When to move on
As mentioned, shared hosts are great for new businesses just getting on the web.
But it’s possible your business will grow, and the demands on your website along with it. When that happens, it may be time to upgrade.
After all, you are sharing these resources with other “roommates.” And they may be hogging all the hot water right when you need a shower.
When a visitor clicks on a page, your server’s memory and CPU work together to seamlessly get the visitor where they’re going.
But in some instances, like surges in traffic on the server or the presence of complicated scripts on a page, there might not be enough memory and CPU to properly load those pages consistently.
In these instances, it’s probably time to upgrade to a service that’s more dependable for your traffic and content.
And ditch the roommates while you’re at it.
So what’s right for you?
Before you make a decision on any web hosting service, it’s important to understand what exactly your hosting needs are in terms of performance and price.
Begin by thinking about the size of your existing audience. If it’s going to be small to start, kicking off your site on a shared hosting service is a no-brainer.
But don’t forget to look forward. If your business is growing rapidly and you think your web traffic will reflect that, it may be best to skip ahead to another type of web hosting platform.
Also, consider what content management system you’ll be going with. The fastest hosting companies for WordPress may not be ideal for your Drupal-based system.
Next, be sure to do your research.
Before you blindly check the terms of service box, make sure you know a host’s reliability and uptime guarantees, as well as its server usage policy.
Finally, don’t forget to ask about prices! Not just for sign up, but for renewal as well.
For additional guidance, refer to comprehensive reviews of service providers to determine which ones align with your site’s specific needs.
And feel free to contact me with any feedback or additional questions you might have about selecting the right hosting service for your business.