Shared Web Hosting Service – Right For You?
In most cases a shared web hosting service is what you need. This is the entry level service offered by all hosting companies. Most also offer more advanced services like VPS and dedicated server hosting but these are more expensive and are only needed if site activity is high or security is important.
Shared web hosting simply means that many users are hosted on a server and share the resources of that server (disk space, CPU etc.). Some hosting providers specify a monthly maximum for usage of resources such as bandwidth and disk space and others offer “unlimited” resources. Most have a range of packages allowing different numbers of things like domain names, sub domains, email addresses, ftp addresses and databases.
The differences between suppliers are determined by:
Quality of Service – How fast your site loads and how often it is down (best companies guarantee 99.9% uptime). Poor suppliers can load too many users onto a server resulting in poor performance. Good suppliers will closely monitor their services to ensure that users don’t abuse the service by talking too many resources.
Quality of Support – If you have a problem you want to be able to contact knowledgeable support staff straight away but the quality of support does vary.
Contract Terms – Although a monthly cost is quoted in most cases this involves paying 12+ months in advance. There are suppliers that will allow monthly payments but the cost is higher than the headline figure.
It is now normal for providers of shared hosting to offer “Unlimited” services. This is basically a marketing term which is clearly meaningless and is best considered to mean “reasonable”. If your site gets big and starts using too many resources then your host will not be happy (and neither will the other users on the server). On the other hand using “unlimited” avoids setting arbitrary limits and can be of benefit to both parties. The hosting package becomes simpler and allows users to get through peaks without breaching pre-set limits. In practice there clearly have to be limits even if they are not well defined. The following is an extract from the terms and conditions of one host which state “…. service is designed to meet the typical needs of small business and home business website subscribers. It is not intended to support the sustained demand of large enterprises, internationally based businesses, or non-typical applications better suited to a dedicated server”.
As a general ball park, it should be OK to run a site/blog receiving up to 10,000 visits a day on shared web hosting service (but bear in mind that if you are running a database powered site, like WordPress, you will have to be caching the site).