Shared Web Hosting

If you've ever had a personal website that you ran from your home computer, then you've had experience with shared web hosting, even if the name doesn't ring a bell. Inexpensive hosting options tend not to mention that they're shared: it just goes without saying. To find out more of the details about shared web hosting, check out the rest of this article.

Best Free Web Hosts

  1. 150m - 150MB Web Space / Ads
  2. 20m - 20MB Disk Space / Ads
  3. StormLoader - 50MB Web Space

Top Cheap Web Hosts

  1. BlueHost - $3.49 Unlimited Sites
  2. FatCow - $4.08 Free Domain
  3. JustHost - $2.95 Free Site Builder

What Is Shared Web Hosting?

Web hosting involves storing files on a computer called a server. It is entirely possible for a single account to take up an entire server. This is called dedicated hosting. Dedicated hosting means that the one account gets all the capacity and all the bandwidth. It may be used for one website or many or storage or other uses. But there's only a single owner.

Shared web hosting means that multiple accounts are run from a single server, sharing the capacity and the bandwidth. It is important to note that they also share an IP address, although this wasn't always the case. Earlier in the development of the Internet, it was the practice to assign each domain name to a separate IP address. But following the exponential growth of domains and finite possibilities for IP addresses, shared addresses were developed.

Two Kinds of Sharing

You can think of shared web hosting as having two different expressions. First, shared web hosting, also called virtual hosting is straightforward shared access to a common server. You control your website with a control panel, but the web host is in control of the server. And if your neighbors exceed their share of bandwidth, you may feel it.

Another type of shared web hosting provides more of a buffer between you and your neighbor. This second type of shared web hosting aims to imitate some of the benefits of the more expensive option of having a dedicated server. There are two names for it: Virtual Dedicated Server (VDS) or Virtual Private Server (VPS).

If you have VDS or VPS, you still have an account on a shared server, but resources are set aside for your use and protected from infringement by others. This means that your access to your dedicated resources is not affected by the existence or activity of other sites sharing the server with you. What is important is to have enough dedicated resources that at times of peak usage, your service is not affected.

Shared Web Hosting Features and Pricing

Shared web hosting is used by users with a very wide range of needs, from a one-page personal website to an eCommerce site. So it's not surprising that they vary widely in their feature offerings. Here are some of the features that may be offered with shared web hosting plans:

  • 100 megabytes (MB) of space to unlimited space
  • 1000 MB = 1 gigabyte (GB) of transfer bandwidth to unlimited bandwidth
  • 10 email accounts to unlimited email accounts
  • no stated operating system (OS), or  Unix, or Windows, or a choice of Linux or Windows
  • no database (DB) or unspecified database size, or up to 10 GB, or a specified number of databases that are allowed
  • no PHP use or PHP use
  • no statistics or a statistics package
  • no Secure Socket Layers (SSL) or shared SSL (used for secure transmission of messages and essential to ecommerce
  • no File Transfer Protocol (FTP) upload to site, or FTP capability
  • no Common Gateway Interface (CGI) script capability, or CGI capability

In a survey, prices ranged between $4.95/month when paid by the year, up to $49.95/month when paid by the year. However, it is often the case that eCommerce packages are priced higher, and those packages—including features such as the ability to import a database, ability to handle a certain number of products, the ability to link with an affiliate program, and whether there's a transaction fee—run from $18.33 to $299.95 and may involve a set-up fee.

Related article: Find the Best Free Web Hosting