March
20
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Should You Spend More for a Dedicated Server vs Shared Hosting?

Header image with a hedgehog for choosing between shared hosting, VPS and dedicated servers

Header image with a hedgehog for choosing between shared hosting, VPS and dedicated servers

 

There are a lot of options when it comes to hosting your website. That’s actually a good thing, as you can choose the hosting plan that perfectly suits your needs. No single hosting package would be able to fit the needs of everyone. Whether you’re starting a blog for something you’re passionate about or need to create a business site, use this information to make an informed decision and choose the best hosting solution for you.

The three main types of hosting available are shared hosting, VPS (virtual private servers) and dedicated hosting. In order to choose the right one, you should understand the pros and cons of each in terms of what they offer, how they affect your site’s performance. Not to mention security, which is extremely important. So let’s take a quick look at each.

 

What does a shared hosting plan mean?

A good hosting company owns the servers they sell, as some hosting companies simply rent servers then resell the use of them to you. But that means they have to increase the price to make a profit. (Yes, Hostwinds owns all the servers we use)

Some of these servers are home to multiple customer accounts and sites. When you use shared hosting, everything your site contains or uses is on a server with other people. Hence the term “shared”.

Each customer has their own little section of the server where they can manage their site. The host’s cost of running, managing and maintaining that server is split among the different customers who share it. Kind of like roommates who share a house and split the rent, while still having a common living room, kitchen, etc.

This is why shared hosting plans are cheaper than other types of hosting plans. They’re a great way to get your feet wet when starting out.

 

Benefits

  • It’s the cheapest option
  • Not much technical know-how needed, as the server is managed for you
  • Pretty much anything you need to start a basic site is already there or ready to be installed with just a few clicks
  • It’s a good starter point in learning how to run your site

 

While this may all sound fine and dandy, there are also some serious drawbacks to shared hosting.

 

Security and Performance

You’re sharing resources. You may take all the security precautions you can, but other customers on the same server may not be so diligent. If they end up getting hacked or unknowingly install a malicious plugin or theme, it could affect the performance of your site since you share all the same resources.

 

Note: You may have heard that shared hosting isn’t secure. That may be the case with some hosting companies, but with Hostwinds (and any other hosting company worth a grain of salt), viruses, malware and other problems will be confined to the infected account. That means if you have several sites setup on your account and a site on another client account gets infected, your sites will remain safe.

 

Shared hosting always isn't the breeding ground of infected sites, viruses and malware like you may have heard. Click To Tweet

 

If another customer’s site on the server gets a huge surge in traffic, it could also affect your site and slow it down. If users are bogging down their site with scripts and plugins, that’s eating resources and could also affect your site.

 

Shows shoe filled with rocks, representing shared hosting resource sharing if other users on server use too many resources

 

Two things that you should know about Hostwinds shared hosting, though…

One – our shared plans are unlimited, but we do have a soft cap. Customers on shared hosting that consistently use up unusually high amounts of resources are warned to reduce usage. We’re more than happy to help them figure out what’s causing it and help them fix the problem if they would like. This is to protect all clients, including you from experiencing the scenarios mentioned above. Many other hosting companies will claim to offer unlimited everything but will hide the fact that they can shut you down at anytime if they think that you’re using too many resources. Read the fine print, people, read the fine print.

Two – We also try to prevent this by having a strict maximum number of customers per server. Some hosting companies will cram as many users as they can onto shared hosting servers to make more money. Beware of hosting that claim everything is unlimited for $1.99/month.

If you’re sharing an IP address with the other customers ( Which is frequently the case ), you could end up blacklisted due to spam sent by other customers on the server.

 

Note: The blacklisting would not occur if you’re using Hostwinds shared hosting. We do everything possible to protect and take care of our customers. That includes giving every user a dedicated IP address at no charge. So even with our shared hosting, you don’t share your IP address. Few other hosting companies offer free dedicated IPs on shared hosting accounts. They will generally offer it as a paid upgrade or in higher-tier hosting plans.

 

Ideal for…

A shared hosting plan might be suitable if your site doesn’t need a lot of plugins, scripts or anything robust. A small, simple site that doesn’t get tons of traffic will usually do fine. But if you know that your site will need many plugins, will receive large amounts of traffic or that you will depend on it for your business, then you should probably consider one of the other options below… especially if you’ll be keeping any type of sensitive data or selling stuff on your site.

Check out our affordable shared hosting plans, starting at $4.50/month.

 

Virtual private server (VPS)

The next step up from a shared hosting plan is a VPS. You’re still sharing a server, but the server is split into much larger sections, where each section has dedicated resources. You’ll have many more resources available, as there are fewer customers on a VPS compared to a shared server and the resources dedicated to your section aren’t shared among others.

You’ll also have more control, with access to root and will be able to create, install or use pretty much anything you might need.

And if at some point, you need to upgrade further, our budget VPS services allow for instant scaling. You can instantly upgrade your service with no downtime right from your client area.

VPS Services are a good stepping stone if you need more than what shared hosting provides, without diving right into dedicated servers while still being very affordable.

 

Shows walking path representing a VPS being a stepping stone to Dedicated Servers

 

VPS Services are a good stepping stone if you need more than what shared hosting provides, without diving right into dedicated servers while still being very affordable. Click To Tweet

 

Ideal for…

If you know your site will have many pages or need custom scripts and plugins, and you don’t expect rapid growth then a VPS is probably a good choice.

Check out our fully managed budget VPS plans, starting at $7.50/month

 

Dedicated servers

A dedicated server is yours and yours alone. Dedicated servers give you complete control over everything that has to do with your site. You are given an entire server to yourself so your site can’t be affected by anyone else and you aren’t sharing any resources. But with great power comes great responsibility (couldn’t resist).

Running a dedicated server requires much more know-how than shared hosting or a VPS services. It’s your server and it’s up to you to take care of it. This includes the security of the server.

Another big thing to remember with dedicated servers is that if you outgrow it, scaling means migrating everything to a completely new server that has what you need. In some cases, you can move the drives over to a server with more storage, but other resources (like RAM) can’t be changed when doing this.

 

Ideal for…

Large, busy sites will perform better on a dedicated server since all resources are available. Business sites, ecommerce sites, sites with lots of users and sites that include sensitive information are more better off on a dedicated server. There aren’t any other users on the server that could do something that risks the performance of your site.

Check out our cheap high performance dedicated servers here, which are ready to be 100% customized for your needs – starting at $100/month.

 

So which type of hosting is the best for you?

In most cases, a VPS is probably the way to go. It gives you resources that are dedicated solely to you and it can easily grow with you with instant scalability.

Visit our VPS page to learn about the affordable, versatile plans you can choose from.

There are two exceptions here…

One – If you know for sure that it’s going to be a small simple site with not too much traffic, will stay that way, and you do not need to make any modifications to the base services such as Apache, PHP or MySQL. If that’s the case and you’re positive about that, then shared hosting should be perfectly fine. You’d likely just end up paying for space and resources you don’t need if you go with anything higher.

Visit our shared hosting page to see the number of different plans available.

Two – And the opposite. If you know the site is going to be large, use lots of plugins, use custom scripts, have lots of users or traffic… or if you even suspect that it might. In this case, definitely don’t try to get by with shared hosting. It may be cheaper, but it’ll cost you in the long run. A dedicated server is probably ideal here. At the minimum, a premium VPS.

Visit our dedicated server page to see the different servers that are just waiting for your customization.

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