Website Hosting – Shared vs Dedicated
This is a topic that comes up fairly regularly when discussing setting up a website.
How much are the ongoing costs?
How much is hosting?
You get the idea.
In terms of Hosting, there are generally two factors you’ll want to consider for your website.
To put it simply, these are whether you want:
- Dedicated Hosting (More expensive)
- Shared Hosting (Less Expensive)
I understand that in many cases, the default is to go with the less expensive option, but generally speaking, you get what you pay for.
There are a number of positives and negatives that should be considered when deciding on what kind of hosting you should choose for your website.
Before we get into that, let’s briefly cover some of the basics of hosting and what it is.
What is Website Hosting?
Website hosting is a service that stores all the data that makes up your website (e.g. images, text, layout, code, videos, other media etc.) and also makes it available to the internet.
A good analogy is like business rent. Your website is like a shop, you need a place to store all your goods etc. and you need that place to be accessible to the public so that you can do business. Hosting is the rent you pay to hold your website data and make your website available to the internet so people can come visit it.
There are countless different hosting packages out there from just as many different suppliers, and these can vary widely.
Some are literally bare-bones, no-frills hosting. They store your data and provide internet access and that’s it. These are usually the cheapest options that you see around the place, ranging from $2-$10/mth. They are purely functional and offer nothing else.
I do not recommend these at all – I’ll explain why in just a bit.
Next up, we have hosting packages that offer a little more. They commonly include taking care of things like security, performance, updates, maintenance and general site management and as such, these are commonly referred to as ‘managed hosting’ packages.
The difference in cost from the cheap, no-frills option I just mentioned and the base level of managed hosting is not very much, considering the hassle that they take care of for you.
This is why I always recommend that at the very least, you should always go for managed hosting.
What is ‘Managed’ Website Hosting?
Most of the hosting packages that you come across are going to be managed. Some more than others and this depends a lot on how many different things they offer in each package.
Why are they almost all considered managed? because there’s a fair bit of complex work that goes into making a website work beyond the build part that most people think of. Many people can build a website in WordPress, but not many people can manage networks, create tech-specific files, manage CPanel, or do upgrades and updates on their server operating system etc. etc.
To add to that, all websites are stored on computers. They have all the same kind of hardware as your own computer such as memory, hard drives, internet ports and so on. This means that not only does someone have to take care of all the software side of things I just mentioned, they also have to make sure that everything is functioning correctly with the server hardware.
This is just some of the things that need to happen – every single day – to keep your website up and running.
As I mentioned, almost all hosting packages come with this as part of their most basic hosting packages.
For this reason, we’re going to assume that any hosting you decide to get is going to be managed hosting.
Now, lets get back to talking about shared vs managed website hosting.
Shared vs Dedicated Hosting
The biggest difference between shard and dedicated hosting is that with dedicated hosting, your site (or network) is the only one on that particular server.
Whereas shared hosting, as the name implies, has your site (or network) on the same server as many others and you all share the resources.
Now you may be thinking “Ok, great. So which one is right for me?”
Let me cover some of the points you should consider:
Websites Hosted on the Server:
Shared hosting has multiple websites and organisations sharing the same server; dedicated hosting does not.
An interesting thing many people don’t consider about shared hosting is that their website shares an IP address with many others.
This introduces an interesting ‘blanket risk’ known as IP Blacklisting.
Google and other major search engines can blacklist IP addresses if a website is found to be doing something dodgy or illegal. With shared hosting, it is possible that some organisation you share with (which you won’t know) can get you blacklisted, making you practically invisible online.
Having dedicated hosting makes this virtually impossible unless you yourself are doing the dodgy stuff. Don’t do that.
Traffic Bandwidth and Storage Space:
When you have shared hosting, it also means that you are sharing the allotted bandwidth and storage for that server.
Remember back when you had ‘shaping’ on your internet if you went over your data limit?
Shared hosting has similar penalisations if you go over your allocation (which can include extra charges).
Dedicated hosting does not have the same issue, your limits are determined by the package you purchase and your organisations requirements.
Tech-Savvy Staff Requirements:
When you have shared hosting, you don’t really need an IT team or even a tech savvy staff member to take care of everything because most of it is handled by the shared server host providers. While this is great, the price you pay is limited flexibility in what your organisation can do.
Having dedicated hosting is much more tech heavy. You can expect to have to run updates and upgrades as well as manage the overall health of your server.
If you don’t have the skills to do this but still want to go with the dedicated option, you can opt for Fully Managed Dedicated Hosting which is more expensive that regular dedicated hosting, but significantly cheaper than onboarding and training your own IT department.
One of the most important factors when doing anything at all online is security, and your hosting is no different!
With shared hosting, your provider will, in most cases, install and update most of the security solutions for you.
With dedicated hosting, this task falls to you. You are in charge of securing your own dedicated server.
In terms of exposure, a dedicated server has less chance of getting viruses, malware etc. because they are the only ones on the server.
A shared server has more exposure by the very nature of it having multiple sites and organisations on it and one of those may not have their security set up right, which can affect everyone on the server.
Shared hosting means that you have less control as the host provider makes most decisions on your behalf.
This is fine if you aren’t tech-savvy as they kind of save you from yourself by limiting the possibility of you making mistakes and then having to clean up the mess.
Dedicated hosting gives you incredible control (and responsibility) over what you have on your server.
This is great if your organisation requires that level of flexibility and control and has the knowledge and skills to manage it all.
Again, there is the option of Fully Managed Dedicated Hosting which gives that degree of flexibility and control and incorporates the knowledge and skills of IT Professionals who will do most of the heavy lifting for you.
Shared hosting can experience slow load times caused by another organisation having a burst of web traffic that sucks up all the bandwidth.
This is frustrating for customers and staff alike and is often not caused by anyone in your organisation or any of your customers.
You’re at the mercy of other organisations (and you won’t know who they are) and there’s very little you can do about it.
With a dedicated server, this traffic jam is very unlikely to occur because you have your own bandwidth and resources and you can rely on them to be there when you need them, resulting in a much more stable and reliable user experience for all involved.
Finally, we come to cost.
Yes, there are a number of factors to consider, but sometimes it really does come down to how much you’re going to be paying at the end of the day.
With shared hosting, you share a server and it’s resources with other organisations and you guessed it, you share the costs too. Usually ranging from 1 – 20 dollars a month, this means that it will always* be less expensive than a dedicated hosting option, which can make it an attractive option for starting businesses or those who are just beginning to develop an online presence.
With a dedicated server, you have the luxury of not sharing any of the server resources with any other organisation, it’s all yours – but so is the bill.
Dedicated servers can range anywhere from 30 up to 100 dollars or more each month with Fully Managed Dedicated servers costing even more (In some cases it can be thousands each month!)
The flexibility, control, reliability and performance etc. that you get from a dedicated server come at a higher cost and you don’t share those costs with anyone else.
*It’s a rule for most things and hosting is no different: You get what you pay for.
You cannot get great hosting for just a few dollars a month. If you see a provider offering something that seems to good to be true, it almost certainly is.
What do we go with?
At Yeomans Digital Marketing, we have our own Fully Managed Dedicated Hosting, which means that we have all the benefits of a dedicated server, coupled with the support and expertise of world class IT Professionals who help us out when there are those really tricky problems that are outside of our own expertise to fix.
When you have a Premium Website built with us, you can rest easy knowing that we have one of the worlds best hosting solutions and your website is going to be fully managed by the best in the world.