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making the right choice shared vs dedicated

Making The Right Choice: Shared Hosting vs Dedicated Servers

Shared web hosting or dedicated web hosting, it doesn’t make a difference – whatever gets you online, right? Not necessarily…

While both types of web hosting servers give you more or less the same result, they take different routes to get there. Depending on the needs of your website, business, or online presence in general, you may prefer one or the other.

So, before committing to either one, it’s important that you know what each of them has to offer, where they fall short, and what to expect from each type of server.

These are, of course, not the only two hosting options available. Think of them as opposite ends on the hosting spectrum (but neither end of the spectrum is good nor bad).

There are many ways to utilise a server for hosting, but we’ll only be focusing on shared web hosting and dedicated web hosting in this blog.

What’s the difference between shared hosting and dedicated hosting?

Like we said, the result is the same but the paths to get there are slightly different. Both types of hosting ensure that you have a home for your website and web data.

The difference is that with shared hosting you have access to part of a server. This means you have neighbouring websites that form part of the same server, all using the server’s resources.

A dedicated server is just that- a server that is dedicated to you alone. They’re also called bare-metal servers. With a dedicated server you have no neighbours on the same server, and have all its resources exclusive to yourself.

Pie chart showing the carbon emissions of the internet as a whole, compared to transport and other emissions

Think of it like staying in an apartment block (shared web hosting) versus staying in your own house (dedicated web hosting). Again, slight differences but the result is mostly the same. Let’s go into a little more detail about each and the hosting experience they provide. If you’re wondering how to host your own website, take a look at this blog post.

What is shared web hosting?

With shared hosting, your website is housed on a server that is shared with other websites. It can range into the thousands depending on the server. Not only is the physical space on the server shared, but the other resources the server offers are as well.

This also means that whatever standards, protocols, or resources used by the server are the same for everyone. There’s not much wiggle room in shared hosting.

Pros and cons of shared web hosting

Both web hosting arrangements have their pros and cons. Depending on your situation the pros and cons will be weighed differently for each person. Let’s take a look at the pros and cons of shared web hosting.

Pros of shared web hosting

  • Affordable
  • Little to no administration from your part on the server
  • Easy to set up and manage websites
  • Free perks
  • Expert support

The primary driver for shared hosting would be the costs. It’s affordable enough if you’re a budding business, or just want to get your blog up and running.

You’ll also need very little technical skill to actually set things up. You can take care of your own website through your control panel. You’ll get prompts for updates and patches that you simply have to install.

Server maintenance is carried out by the hosting providers, so you don’t have to be concerned about the wellbeing of the hardware.

Some hosting providers (like us) sometimes offer free perks with shared hosting, like free domains or SSL certificates.

Graph showing top domains in millions

Alongside these free perks is an excellent support team. Again, we can only speak for ourselves in this regard, but having dedicated expert support helps tremendously. As a shared hosting client, you’ll have less to worry about when you face problems.

Cons of shared web hosting

  • Sharing resources
  • Less flexibility for customisation
  • Higher security risks
  • No admin rights

Sharing resources would be fine in a perfect world, but some websites are more demanding of resources than others. This means that your website may suffer because of a noisy neighbour hogging resources.

Hosting companies should maintain a reasonable number of tenants so the server is not overloaded.

Being on the same server also means that none of the tenants have admin abilities. It would be chaos if everyone changed the server’s settings to suit them all the time. To prevent this, shared hosting means you won’t be able to make any changes to the server or customise it in any way.

This means you’ll have to ask your hosting provider to help with any admin tasks.

Being on a shared server also increases your security risk. You can’t account for the safety and security procedures of everyone on your shared server.

So, if someone is sending spam, or gets hacked, your website and data could be at risk as well. While that may be the case with some providers, we protect our users with caged environments. This means a hacked account can’t affect another client.

We have strict abuse and security policies in place, and we’re constantly monitoring our systems for any issues. But, nothing is 100% safe all the time.

Who is shared hosting for?

Shared web hosting is ideal for anyone who needs a basic website. The cost-effectiveness of shared web hosting makes it viable for most and should be a starting place for almost all people looking to create a new website.

Most of the disadvantages can be ignored if the hosting company is reputable and takes care of things.

What is dedicated web hosting?

Dedicated web hosting is having a server that is dedicated to you alone. That means all the resources are yours to use as you see fit.

While basking in the solitude of admin rights and unshared resources, you’ll also get a hefty price tag attached to it.

Pros and cons of dedicated web hosting

As with everything, the pros and cons of dedicated web hosting will be relative to the user. While pricier costs may dissuade some people, it won’t make much difference to others. Let’s take a look at what we consider to be the pros and cons of dedicated web hosting.

Advantages of dedicated web hosting

  • Full root access (admin rights)
  • Full use of resources 
  • Customisable
  • Full control over security

One of the major points in favour of dedicated servers is that all the resources are allocated to you. That means processing power, memory, disk space, and bandwidth are all yours to use.

You’re also able to customise your server to your liking because you’ll have root access. That means deciding what operating system you want to use as well as adding any software you want.

While you won’t have to worry about any other people causing any security issues, you will have to take care of them yourself. Meaning, you’ll need to set up your own security and firewall. Here are some tips to help you stay on top of your website security.

You should look to make your server as secure as possible. Once security is up and running your server is near impenetrable.

Disadvantages of dedicated web hosting

  • Pricey
  • Technical knowledge required
  • Maintenance responsibility

The first drawback of this type of web hosting is the cost. It’s one of the most expensive offerings in hosting. That disqualifies most people right off the bat as it’s not a viable web hosting solution for the projects they have in mind. All those resources do not come cheap.

Another disadvantage is the amount of technical knowledge required to maintain and run a dedicated server. While you won’t need to handle the hardware or network, everything else becomes your responsibility.

If you don’t know how to set up a server or maintain one, you could hire a systems administrator, at an extra cost. The role of security updates and patches also fall on your shoulders. With great web hosting power comes great web hosting responsibility.

Who is dedicated hosting for?

Dedicated web servers are for companies that experience very high traffic and need more resources. It’s also applicable to companies or institutions that need an extra layer of security.

Dedicated servers are best suited for those with technical know-how, or those who can afford to pay someone else to do it for them.

Shared web hosting versus dedicated web hosting

Shared web hosting and dedicated web hosting pros comparison side by side

As you’ve now discovered, both dedicated and shared hosting have their advantages and disadvantages. Both are viable choices, depending on your needs and goals.

If you have a small business or project that requires minimal resources, shared hosting is perfect for you. If you have a big business that experiences plenty of traffic and requires more resources, a dedicated server is a better choice for you.

The Author

Ashwin S.

Alphabets are a random collection of symbols that, when put in a certain order, convey a specific meaning. We use our senses to understand this meaning. When we become immersed in the symbols' meaning, we're under the illusion that it's real - we hallucinate after looking at the symbols. Thus, I create hallucinations, using arbitrary symbols. In other words, I'm a writer. I've been a part of the Marketing Team since 2021 and am responsible for much of the text content HOSTAFRICA produces.

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