Shared vs Dedicated Hosting: Make an Informed Decision

Creating and maintaining a website is a challenge. There are thousands of detail to take care of, from finding the right platform to creating quality content. Perhaps the most important decision you must make is selecting the host server. This can make or break your website and, by extension, your business.

No, we aren’t exaggerating! Studies tell us that you have 5 seconds to impress a new website visitor. If your hosting service drops the ball and fails to display the page quickly, the visitor will leave. Why should they wait? There are thousands of competing websites like yours, except they load faster. Clearly, you need a host that offers lightning-fast load times.

Finding the right host won’t be easy. You have many options to choose from, and every provider claims they offer the best. But before you decide, understand your options so that you can make an informed decision and find the best fit.

At the moment, you can choose between shared, dedicated, or cloud hosting. First, we will explain what shared and dedicated hosting entails, the pros and cons of each, and the major differences. While we do not recommend cloud hosting for most small and medium-sized businesses, it is an option, so we want to provide a high-level overview.

What is shared hosting?

Shared hosting is like renting an apartment with someone. You don’t live alone, must share everything, and whatever your roommates do affects you greatly. You have the same address, so if someone calls the police because your fellow renters threw a wild party, you could be prosecuted. Why? Because you were in the house when they were having the party! Still, living with someone has perks. You only have to pay a portion of the rent, for example.  

When you place your website on a shared server, you occupy a limited space with other sites. Every site shares disk space, CPU processing power, bandwidth, and other system resources. When something affects the other sites on the server, your site is affected as well. You also share the same IP address. If a site on your server happens to be blacklisted, your site automatically drops in ranking because of the common IP. The biggest advantage of shared hosting is cost-effectiveness.

What is dedicated hosting?

Dedicated hosting is like living alone. You have the entire house to yourself and can do whatever you want with it. There’s plenty of room for guests. Your address is your own. You can bar your home from intruders by installing an advanced security system. Of course, renting a house by yourself costs more.

When using a dedicated host for your website, the entire server essentially belongs to you. There is plenty of disk space, CPU power, bandwidth, and other resources. You decide what you want to do with them. You receive a unique IP address, which gives your online presence an identity of its own. It’s easy to take precautions and prevent harm to your website from cyber attacks. Of course, you have to pay a premium price for these features.

What is a dedicated Virtual Private Server (VPS)?

A dedicated VPS is a happy medium between shared and dedicated hosting. If we continue with our apartment analogy, it’s like renting an entire floor as opposed to just a room. While you share the rest of the building with renters, you receive a private area.  

With a dedicated VPS, a set minimum amount of resources is allotted to your account. You’ll divide the overall computing power and space with the other renters, but you get a notable bump in performance. VPS servers are more flexible than shared hosts, but they have many of the same drawbacks. You are allocated a common IP and processing power, but you must pay a little more money for the slight increase in performance.

Differences between shared and dedicated hosting

Both shared and dedicated hosting have advantages and disadvantages.

Cost – Winner: Shared

Nothing beats shared hosting when it comes to cost-effectiveness. For $2 to $25 per month, you’ll have a server with 40GB of space. Usually, 10GB is more than enough for a small-to-medium-sized site.  You can accommodate 10,000 to 20,000 visitors per month and have access to technical support from the host. Most of the times, you’ll be sharing a 4-core CPU with the other renters.

Dedicated hosting isn’t cheap. For approximately $70 to $700 per month, you should be able to purchase 500GB to 20TB of server space. That’s a lot of space and is suitable for sites with substantial content like high-definition videos. You’ll be able to host upwards of 10,000 to 20,000 visitors per day. You’re provided some support by the host, but you will need to handle most of the resources yourself.

Shared hosting is the winner in our book because of the sheer affordability. Not everyone can afford to shell out hundreds of dollars each month for hosting.

Responsibility – Winner: Shared

You don’t need to do much when you use a shared server. The administrator, who is your host, takes care of all the technical details like security and maintenance. You don’t need to be a genius programmer to use a shared server. You get access to a cPanel and other applications that let you make changes to your site effortlessly. On the other hand, there are restrictions on the software, scripts, and programming languages you are allowed to use.

With a dedicated server, you are burdened with all the responsibility. That’s sometimes a good thing, provided you’re a coding whiz or able to hire one. You receive root access to the server, which allows you to customize the entire environment to your liking. There are no restrictions on the kind of software or scripts you can use. Note that there are some managed dedicated plans you can opt for, but then costs soar.

Shared hosting is preferable for small business owners who already have full plates. Dedicated hosting provides more control and flexibility, but you don’t need that for a small website.

Security – Winner: Dedicated

Security is a concern when you share a server. Every renter has a chance of picking up viruses or malware, despite protection from firewalls and antivirus programs. If a part of the server becomes infected, it could spread to you. If someone manages to load a faulty script and causes the server to crash, your site goes offline along with the rest. Your site’s reputation could be compromised if it gets hacked.

When you rent a server solo, you are not affected by someone else’s oversight. You can install robust encryption and security software to safeguard your data. The host monitors your site and ensures it is running smoothly. If they suspect a virus has infected the system, they inform you immediately. It’s fast and easy to root out viruses, malware, and ransomware with kernel access.  

You have the responsibility of making the dedicated server secure, it’s true, but that’s a small price to pay to pay for the heightened security.