If you’ve been in the market for web hosting, then you may have grown a bit confused about the different types of hosting. It is a confusing thing if you’re just starting out, and frankly…it’s confusing even if you’ve been around the block.
So the easiest way to explain what shared hosting is would be to contrast it with dedicated hosting.
These are really the two predominant types of web hosting. Of course there are variations, such as VPS (virtual private server), and you’ll hear of course about reseller hosting. But in truth, for the most part, it all boils down to whether you’re sharing a server or have your own web server.
The Difference Between Shared and Dedicated Hosting…
So when you host your website, basically what you’re doing is paying a company to keep the files of your website(s) on their servers.
What’s a server?
Servers come in all different sizes, but to give you a good idea, if you have a desktop computer, and you look at your computer tower, then that’s pretty much what a server looks like. You can find more technical information on servers here.
You may… in your quest for hosting… have seen pictures of servers in big rooms and huge shelves. Looks like something crazy from a science fiction move but what you’re actually looking at is a room full of servers.
They get stacked together, and when it’s a good solid company such as perhaps Hostgator or iPage then these servers are kept in climate controlled areas so that they stay up, running, and healthy. They’re usually – when it’s a reputable company – monitored by staff 24/7.
So then if you picture one server out of all of them in that room, then you understand exactly what a “dedicated server” is. It’s when you get that one server all to yourself.
What’s the benefit of that?
Well if you’ve got a large website, or plan to grow a very large website with a lot of disk space, then dedicated hosting might be the choice for you.
Quick Side Note: Disk space is just like the disk space on your computer or laptop. It’s basically how much space all of your documents, images, videos, etc will use up on the server of the hosting company.
So if you plan on using a lot of disk space or having a website that gets a tremendous amount of traffic… therefore using a lot of bandwidth (measurement of connectivity across the internet)… you’d want to go with a dedicated host.
However, if you’re just a small business, and you plan on creating a website that’s not going to make a lot of waves, or even make some medium sized waves, then shared hosting is likely plenty sufficient for you.
With shared hosting, the hosting company will simply take one server, and divide it up into lets say 500 parts, and give each client the amount of space on that site. Sometimes it could be more or less. That may seem like a lot, but it’s truly efficient, and the more reputable companies keep a very close eye on each and every server, watching for a site that’s pulling to many resources from that server. Those accounts will be suspended, saving you from down time.
A more reputable company might be a company like Hostgator. You can see more in our hard-hitting review of Hostgator.
Chances are that if you’re just starting your website, or have a small company, then shared hosting will be fine for you. That’s not to say that dedicated hosting might not someday be something that you’ll want to think about, but most people starting out will find shared web hosting good enough for quite a while.
The important part is that you go with a company that’s reliable such as the pre-mentioned Hostgator or iPage.
Please read my review of iPage if you would like to..