The wide adoption of the internet and constant innovations in the technological field have revealed an ocean of opportunities for anyone looking to build a website. Thousands of hosting providers are fighting to attract more customers, which leads to services improving and prices dropping as low as possible.
But before we choose our host, it's best to first have an idea of the type of hosting service that will best suit your online project. Especially if this project is an ecommerce website.
Online shops carry their specifics as there is a lot to process - client orders, transactions, taxes, and regulations, just to name a few. You can see how such projects are highly dependant on a stellar performance and rock-hard security.
But what type of hosting would best guarantee that? Is shared hosting up to the challenge?
What is Shared Hosting?
When looking for a solution for a new website project, the natural first choice is shared hosting. This is an entry-level type of hosting that sees providers splitting a single web server and using it to accommodate as many clients as possible. All users on the machine utilize the same pool of system resources and receive some disk space to put their projects on.
This type of architecture currently houses millions of websites, holding the biggest market share out of all different services. This is far from surprising, given that most websites can easily fit within the disk space quotas of shared accounts.
But there is so much more to it...
Shared Hosting Advantages
Once we start understanding how shared hosting works, it's easy to see some inherent benefits that come with this type of deal:
- Easy for beginners - when you are building a website for the first time, it's easy to get confused by all the different options and terms you're hearing for the first time. This is why shared hosting makes it as easy for you as possible. You get a user-friendly client area for effortless management and a professional support team to back you up. Tons of helpful tutorials and video guides will help you build up experience in your hosting journey. Very low learning curve.
- Built-in control panel - all shared services have an in-built control panel, a feature that is often subject to extra fees on a VPS or dedicated service. This tool gives you the graphical interface to easily control all aspects of your account and website - domain names, email accounts, files and databases, DNS zones, security, and more. An indispensable helper for any website owner.
- Extremely affordable - sharing the resources of the same server means you are also sharing its cost. This is why hosts can afford to offer their shared accounts at amazingly low prices. Today, practically anyone with a good idea and a few dollars to spend monthly can easily build and launch a great website.
The coin always has two sides, though, and this certainly rings true when it comes to hosting online shops on a shared server.
Shared Hosting Disadvantages
Shared plans can easily be sufficient enough for a small personal project or a portfolio page. But when it comes to commercial websites, you don't want anything to cripple your sales. This is when you might start to see the inherent flaws of shared services:
- Sluggish performance - the problem with shared hosts is that all clients drain the same pool of CPU, RAM, and other system resources. And there can be A LOT of clients on a single server, sometimes even over a hundred. It only takes a few resource hogs to soon feel the results - slow page loads, unresponsive modules, even complete website inaccessibility.
- Security vulnerabilities - your server neighbors can negatively impact your security setup as well. Even if you have been very careful with your website protection measures, it only takes a single breach of a user account on the same server for a hacker to gain complete control over the server. Your online shop is only as secure as the weakest account on your shared machine.
- Limited control - ecommerce stores have to captivate the visitor's attention right from the get-go. To do so, they have to be stylish, unique, and full of functionalities. As many of those customizations require at least some level of server control, that could soon turn into a problem on a shared hosting plan. Any server change on such type of plan will affect all users on the same machine, which is something hosts cannot allow for obvious reasons.
In short, deploying a shop on a shared plan is absolutely possible, but if you are looking to grow and accumulate more sales, you have to consider a more powerful solution.
What Are Your Alternatives?
Luckily, once you feel it's time to move on and upgrade your hosting account, providers are ready to accommodate your growth and let you manage your very own server instance. This solves a lot of the problems associated with shared services. Here is what you can usually pick from:
- Managed VPS - imagine operating your own virtual server with a dedicated amount of resources in a secure, caged environment. All that, plus the professional support assistance of your hosting team - that's what managed VPS services mean for online shop owners. Any reliable managed VPS host should be able to help you improve your page loading times, harden your security, and customize your project to perfection.
- Unmanaged VPS - if you are looking for even more server control and are ready to deal with all technicalities - unmanaged (or self-managed) VPS solutions are the way to go. They come with full root access and scalable system resources. However, the control panel and any other features you wish to add to your account are subject to extra fees, and those costs can quickly accumulate.
- Dedicated Server - operating an entire dedicated server is typically the highest tier service and typically quite costly. You rent an entire server from your host and have no limits in how you operate. Such solutions are normally utilized only by very large online shops and brands that run heavily customized ecommerce projects.
Knowing all of this, you can see that a shared service can often accommodate online shops and other commercial projects. The problem is that unless we are talking about a very small website with a handful of visitors - a shared hosting solution would soon prove inefficient and lead to numerous problems down the line.
A smart entrepreneur always thinks a few steps ahead, so it's best you consider a robust and feature-packed VPS solution right from the get-go. Prices at the moment are quite affordable, and if you don't want to waste any time on technicalities - there are great managed plans to go around.
Radoslav heads the Content Team of ScalaHosting, responsible for all internal and external content related to the innovative VPS host. With over 11 years of experience in the hosting industry in different positions, Rado has been overseeing the market processes from different perspectives and puts that knowledge in best serving potential customers.
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