Shared Web Hosting and Things You Must Be Aware of
There are several different types of hosting available for your website. The most popular is shared hosting, but there are also other options such as VPS (Virtual Private Server), Dedicated server and even WordPress optimized hosting if you are using that particular CMS for your website.
Most people, unless they have a very advanced or high traffic website will start off using shared hosting. It’s the most affordable type of hosting, and shouldn’t be costing you more than $10 a month.
What is shared hosting?
Shared hosting, as the name implies, is when the resources of an individual server are shared among many different people. Web hosts will create hosting packages on the server, offering clients hosting packages with various amounts of disc space, bandwidth and other such functions.
Most of the time, the resources you are allocated will be more than enough for your website, especially if it is a brand new one and not going to be getting a lot of traffic right away.
There are usually two or three different shared hosting packages available, with the difference between them being the number of websites that you can host. This usually starts at a single website and can go up to an unlimited amount.
Other differences between the shared hosting packages will include the amount of disc space you are allocated, which is where your website files, content and images are uploaded, and bandwidth, which is the traffic between the user and visitors to your websites.
Features to look for
Not all web hosts offer the same features and options as others, so it’s important that you find a host who is generous with the features of their shared hosting, and who doesn’t try to sell you add-ons or upgrades for access to functions that other hosts offer as standard.
For example, most hosts that offer shared hosting will use the cPanel management system, which is the most popular web hosting control panel in the world and packed full of great features. One such feature is an app called “Let’s Encrypt” which allows you to generate free SSL certificates for all of your websites.
Some hosts however, would prefer to sell you their SSL certificates to use on your websites, and if you are running a number of sites, this can become quite expensive each year.
It’s important to compare features and resources of shared hosting between different web hosts, so you can work out which is the best one to use. A great place to start for host comparison is at the 28msec website, which is full of helpful advice and great suggestions for hosting.
Nearly all shared hosting should be offering you the abilities to create email accounts, use various content management systems such as WordPress or Joomla, as well as other standard features that are common in web hosting. Sometimes you might find you are limited in the number of email or FTP accounts that you can create, but these are usually limitations placed on the hosting package you’ve selected.
Things to be wary of
As with everything in life, you get what you pay for, and if something sounds too good to be true, it usually is. Web hosting is no difference, and the price you pay can have a serious effect on the performance of your website.
You will most likely have come across a number of budget or $1 web hosts, which offer to host your websites for an extremely small payment each month. These hosting accounts are usually on old servers, whose resources have been severely oversold.
With a general web host, you could have a few hundred other users on a shared hosting account, but with the cheap $1 hosting, you could be sharing the resources of the server with many hundreds, if not thousands, of other users. If everyone played by the rules and used only their allocated resources, then things might not be so bad.
However, with $1 hosting, most people who use it do so in order to exploit it and once they are kicked off the server, will simply go to another host and start all over again. Such accounts are popular with spammers, or people who create one time use parasite or spoof websites, which at times, can be used to do things such as share illegal music streams, pirated software and other such things.
If you are serious about your website, then you’ll want to stay well clear of such hosts. Not only are they prone to performance issues, but your website will also be hosted in what is known as a bad neighborhood, which in turn could affect how Google and other search engines rank your website.
Make sure the web host offers good support
One thing that you must look at when choosing a web host is their support. You will want to work with a host that has 24/7 support, and in this day and age, there is no reason why that shouldn’t be offered. If you come across a web host that has limited customer support, or who only work during office hours, then you should simply look elsewhere for your hosting.
Some hosts work with email and ticket support, and most of the time can be very responsive, but you’ll want to check first and see just how quick and reliable such support is.
What you don’t want to happen is on a Saturday morning, you discover that your website is down, and nothing is working, and you have to wait until Monday morning before you can get in contact with someone. If you are running websites for clients, then this is a nightmare scenario, and one that you will want to avoid at all costs.
Some final thoughts
It is important that you do your due diligence when it comes to finding a host for your website. Pick the wrong one and you could have a lot of problems in the near future. Avoid any $1 a month or lifetime hosting deals — they simply won’t be the effort when things start to go wrong. I hope you noticed that I said “when” and not “if”, as with the cheapest hosting options, you will always encounter problems.
Check out reviews and real testimonials on different websites or social media so that you can get a much clearer picture of just how well, or poorly, a specific web host performs. It might mean spending a good few hours researching different hosts, but that’s nothing compared to the amount of time you might be wasting when you have to move all of your websites over to a different host in a few months’ time if you pick the wrong one.