What is Shared Hosting: Definition, Use Cases & Examples

Shared Hosting is one of the most popular types of web hosting. It has been around for a long time, and it's still one of the cheapest solutions available on the market today. Yet cost isn't the best benchmark for a web hosting plan, and shared hosting isn't suitable in some cases.

What is Shared Hosting?

Shared Hosting: Cheaper, easy to maintain; limited server control and power.
Shared Hosting: Cheaper, easy to maintain; limited server control and power.

Shared Hosting is a type of web hosting plan where multiple websites share the same physical server. These websites make collective use of the server's resources to operate. Thanks to resource sharing, web hosts can sell shared hosting plans cheaply.

How Shared Hosting Works

The biggest difference between Shared Hosting and other types of hosting is how server resources (such as RAM and CPU power) are being allocated.
The biggest difference between Shared Hosting and other types of hosting is how server resources (such as RAM and CPU power) are being allocated.

Among the pros and cons of Shared Hosting, the point about resource allocation and sharing is often the most misinterpreted. Many users are drawn to Shared Hosting because these plans seemingly offer many server resources for low prices.

Understanding that the resources promised to you in a Shared Hosting plan are conditional is essential. Those numbers represent the maximum usage allowance. However, they are not guaranteed to be available on demand.

Think of Shared Hosting as being similar to living in a communal space. These people might not be associated with each other, but they occupy the same area and share common facilities.

Three Examples of Shared Hosting

1. TMD Hosting

TMD Hosting Cheapest Hosting Plan - $2.95 per month

Cheapest Shared Hosting Plans: $2.95 per month

TMDHosting has been around for over 10 years and has been considered a reliable choice for those in need of quality shared hosting. Personally, I think TMD is one of the hidden gems in the hosting industry and I recommend them to friends and families who are in need of a reliable web hosting solution.

TMD's cheapest shared server hosting plan – named “Starter”, starts at $2.95 per month. It allows users to host one website websites and come with a free domain, Weebly Website Builder, basic caching, PHP 7 support, site backup and restore, unlimited server bandwidth, as well as hack & malware protection. What's more – if you are a new user, folks at TMD Hosting will help migrate your site for free.

Read our full TMD Hosting review

* Note: Use promo code “WHSR” to enjoy an additional 7% discount when you order TMD Hosting.

2. Hostinger

Hostinger Cheapest Hosting Plan - $1.99 per month

Cheapest plan signup at: $1.99 per month

Hostinger offers three shared hosting plans. Their cheapest plan – “Single” is priced at $1.99 per month.  At the price of slightly more than a dollar, you get to host 1 website with 30 GB SSD disk space and 100 GB bandwidth – which is adequate for about 10,000 visits monthly.

For higher tier shared hosting – Premium ($2.99 per month ) and Business Plan ($4.99 per month ), you'll get more storage space, bigger site hosting capacity, innovative features like advance cron jobs, GIT access, free Google Adwords credits, unlimited databases, and free dedicated SSL – stuffs that you don't usually get from a budget hosting plan.

Read our full review on Hostinger hosting

3. GreenGeeks

Greengeeks cheap hosting plan - $2.95 per month

Cheapest plan signup at: $2.95 per month

Founded in 2006 by Trey Gardner, GreenGeeks has benefited from his extensive experience in several large hosting companies. The company’s roots lie in North America and have served over 35,000 customers with more than 300,000 websites. As an eco-friendly company, it has dedicated itself to leaving a positive energy footprint and replacing used energy with triple the energy credits that are used.

GreenGeeks' Shared Hosting come in three flavors – Ecosite Lite, Ecosite Pro, and Ecosite Premium. Premium plan hosting accounts, according to GreenGeeks, are placed on servers with fewer customers and also come with increased CPU, Memory & resources.

Learn more in Timothy's GreenGeeks review.

Shared Hosting Pros & Cons

Shared Hosting cPanel
Shared Hosting uses web hosting control panels like cPanel to make account management easier.

Like all other web hosting plans, Shared Hosting has distinct pros and cons. Understanding these advantages and disadvantages can help you decide if it suits your needs.

Pros of Shared Hosting

  • Cheap
  • Easy to manage
  • Widely available
  • Generous resource allocation
  • Usually includes email hosting

Cons of Shared Hosting

  • Some security concerns
  • Performance inconsistencies
  • Less reliable
  • Few customization options

What to Consider When Choosing Your Shared Hosting Provider

For those who fall into the category where it's suitable to use Shared Hosting, next comes a choice of where to get your Shared Hosting plan. There are hundreds of international and local web hosting companies offering similar services. Assessing Shared Hosting service providers must be undertaken with intimate knowledge of your website needs.

Ask yourself:

1. How Much Are You Willing to Pay? 

Hostinger cheapest plan starts at $1.99 per month
Hostinger's cheapest plan starts at $1.99 per month (visit online).

Shared Hosting prices can vary significantly. Remember that most low prices are only valid for new customers who subscribe to a plan for two or more years. All that money needs to be paid upfront. Prices also generally increase when your term expires. 

If cost is a top choice, many service providers like Hostinger, ScalaHosting, and HostPapa offer excellent cheap web hosting deals.

2. How Reliable is the Web Hosting Brand?

We have tested and reviewed more than 70 web hosting companies. Here are our unbiased web hosting reviews.

Ignore the marketing materials you see and look toward independent reviewers. WHSR, for example, tests and reviews dozens of web hosting brands and presents concrete performance results. At the very least, check the service provider's reputation on platforms like TrustPilot.

3. How Important is Localization Important?

International web hosting companies often offer high-quality services and take their reputation seriously. However, you may need localization, like maintaining your data within the country. These factors can affect your choice of a web host since they offer various options in data center locations.

Tips: Choosing the right web host is integral to your website performance and peace of mind. I highly recommend you read our complete considerations on How to Choose the Right Web Host.

When to Use Shared Hosting

Despite the potentially significant downsides of Shared Hosting, its advantages also mean a broad range of suitable applications. You can consider using Shared Hosting in these cases;

Personal Websites

There are many types of personal websites. Examples include blogs, portfolio websites, biography sites, family photo albums, and more. Since these are often non-commercial, Shared Hosting is a cost-effective option. 

Startup Websites

Shared Hosting can offer a smooth entryway to those that start a new website with the intent of commercialization. Website traffic takes time to build. Shared Hosting neatly fills that “early stage gap” where income is limited.

New Business Websites

Like startup websites, even new business sites can benefit from the easy management and low cost of Shared Hosting plans. However, it would be best if you weighed the potential downsides carefully, even in the early stages. 

Development Websites

Web developers or programmers sometimes need web hosting to test their websites or applications. Shared Hosting plans are seldom suitable for this since most will not offer the environment developers need. 

When Not to Use Shared Hosting

Although some may argue that any low visitor volume websites can use Shared Hosting, this is not the case. Other risks associated with Shared Hosting make it unsuitable for many websites. 

For example;

Business Websites

Many established business value their reputation highly. It is often a contributing factor to their commercial success and competitive advantage. The potential reputational risk of having a slow, crashing, or hacked website is often simply not worth the cost savings of using Shared Hosting.

Online Stores and eCommerce Websites

These websites usually store and process essential data like personal and financial information. The security vulnerabilities of Shared Hosting make it highly unsuitable for use in these scenarios.

News and Media Websites

Most news and media websites thrive on high visitor volume. Those that work on subscription models also face the dilemma of keeping customer information secure. Again, this isn't something you can achieve with Shared Hosting.

Mission-critical Applications

If you plan to run any website or web application that must respond quickly and reliably, then Shared Hosting isn't for you. Examples include messaging applications, shared databases, or other dynamic websites.

Conclusion

Shared Hosting is a very affordable hosting service for website owners with few visitors. It helps keep operational costs as low as possible. It's possible to deploy and run your website on Shared Hosting for under $5/mo.

Yet as you can see, web hosting needs more consideration than just pricing. Considering other factors, you may find that other types of web hosting plans are more suitable for your needs. Just because Shared Hosting is easy to use doesn't mean it'll make your life easier.

Other Types of Web Hosting

If you feel that Shared Hosting might not suit your needs, consider an alternative. There are several types of web hosting plans.

Virtual Private Server (VPS) plans are also on single servers. However, these plans get a dedicated resource allocation and isolated virtual environment. These characteristics mean that while costing slightly more than shared hosting, VPS plans are more reliable and secure.

Cloud Hosting plans are in some ways similar to VPS but utilize the pooled resources of multiple servers. This distribution of hardware means that Cloud Hosting plans are often extremely reliable while maintaining good levels of performance and security. 

Dedicated Servers offer the best in performance, flexibility, and security. However, like VPS and Cloud plans, they can be difficult to manage. Dedicated Servers are also the least cost-effective since you will be paying to occupy resources that you may not fully utilize.

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Article by Jerry Low