Shared Versus Dedicated Hosting

The Nature of Shared Hosting
Shared hosting is a type of hosting service provided from a single physical server which hosts many other websites. Every server has a certain amount of resources which include disk space, CPU cycles, and physical memory (RAM). It is these resources which are shared amongst all the websites hosted from one shared hosting server. Since this type of hosting service can be provided to many many clients from a single machine, it is much cheaper than more expensive hosting solutions such as Virtual Private Server hosting, dedicated hosting, or colocation.

But with the price of shared hosting comes a possible downside. Since shared hosting takes place from a single server sharing the resources, a website hosted from a shared hosting account can perform badly or not at all at times because of issues caused by another website (or multiple websites) hosted from the same server. These issues stem from the other sites having bad CGI coding or PHP coding, abusing the email server with small mailing lists, running unauthorized programs, etc.

Just as police are not able to foresee the crimes which will be committed, a web hosting company cannot foresee the offenses which the many shared hosting clients they host may commit no matter how hard they try. It is only after our monitoring systems or a customer makes the hosting company aware of the issue that they may investigate the problem and take action to make sure service is fully restored. With complex technical issues it still may take a bit of time for our system administrators to find the cause of a problem.

Business Frustrations
It is very often that a new or existing business will find a hosting company to host their website, and then decide to signup for one of the very affordable shared hosting plans that the hosting company offers. Some companies might signup for such an account just to have an online presence, or to lightly communicate via e-mail, without baring any loss from short periods of downtime. In this situation, a shared hosting account should serve such a business well.

However... for a company that relies heavily on email communication and website uptime for sales and promotion, shared hosting is not recommend.

Companies which have mission critical websites often signup for a shared account with one web hosting company, and then move to another after they've had enough problems and frustration to consider it worth the move. This is a vicious cycle that is very frustrating for both the customer and the hosting company.

This is not to say that such a company should expect immediate problems with shared hosting, however such a company shouldn't want to risk the possibility of downtime just to save a few bucks. Its very often that hosting support representatives get statements such as "I'm loosing $1000 every hour my email is down!". They often think to themselves the absurdity of a company loosing that much money on downtime just because they choose to not host from a more reliable form of hosting, especially when the cost of such hosting is only a fraction of what the business claims they are loosing.

Dedicated Servers
Dedicated server hosting is exactly what it sounds like. It is a single server setup and dedicated to whatever purposes the customer may have. The customer may host a single high-performance website from this one server, or the customer may choose to host a few or many shared hosting accounts. A dedicated server customer may even decide to run special applications such as a streaming audio server (an option not available through typical shared hosting plans).

The beauty of this solution is that only the sites you decide to put on your server are the ones which may cause problems due to abuse. If a customer is hosting only a handful of mission critical sites from the server, and the server and applications they are running are secured, then a dedicated server will provide you with the uptime and performance you need. If you are running a shared server, then you may still run into abuse issues however you will have more control over the situation given that they are your customers, and not another resellers customers causing the issue.

Virtual Private Servers (VPS)
Dedicated server hosting has been around for quite a while, but it comes at a very high price, especially to those which do not have enough traffic and resource usage with their sites to justify such an upgrade. Virtual Private Server (VPS) hosting is a new option which hosting companies are beginning to offer which is much cheaper than a dedicated server. Both types of hosting have the same options and features with the only difference being the amount of resources you are guaranteed.

Basically a VPS is like a shared account since many VPS accounts are hosted from a single machine. Unlike shared hosting, a VPS is unaffected by the other VPS accounts running from the same machine. Since a server with lots of CPU power and memory can be shared amongst many VPS servers, the end result is a low price with the security of a dedicated server.

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