10 Reasons You Should NOT use Shared Hosting for Your Online Shop
Each web hosting plan has its own features that make it suitable for hosting a certain type of website. There is no ‘one size fits all’ approach in web hosting and because of the particularities of certain websites a certain type of web hosting is called for. Ecommerce sites or online stores are a representative example of websites whose distinctive nature demands that you host them on something better than a simple shared hosting plan. This is not to say that you cannot host an online store on a shared hosting account, but that there are several reasons why you shouldn’t use shared hosting for your online store.
Although shared hosting does come with advantages in terms of pricing and certain features, here’s why shared hosting is not a good idea for eCommerce sites:
1. Resources are limited
Unlimited shared hosting is a myth, and in fact, shared hosting comes with a lot of limitations and one of the most significant limitations are server resources. When several websites are each competing over resources on the same physical server, it’s easy to see how that could affect the dynamics of resource allocation and deprive your website from the resources it needs to function properly. When you’re creating an online shop, you need to be prepared for traffic spikes, you also need to make sure your pages load fast enough to keep your customers engaged. Slow websites equal high bounce rates and lost revenue.
2. Shared hosting is not meant for eCommerce
At its core, shared hosting’s application is limited to static websites, small personal blogs, small to medium-traffic business or personal websites. While you could in theory host a Magento site on a shared hosting, since this eCommerce platform needs more resources, a shared hosting environment would not be able to deliver the performance industry standards dictate when it comes to online stores. Online shops require specialized hosting that can appropriately deal with the special nature and special requirements imposed on online stores by eCommerce legislation or industry standards.
Performance is a catchall term for aspects relating to the speed and uptime of your website. The hosting you choose for your site can have a significant say in the speed of your website, which in turn can influence the search engine rankings and conversion rates of your online store.
4. Lack of customizability
When you’re running your own online business, you want to have a say-so in the configuration of your hosting environment, in the scripts and apps that run on your server, the security measures you can implement, in the control panel you want, and essentially all aspects of the hosting of your choosing. A shared hosting account will not give you root access or the possibility to install custom apps and scripts on your hosting account, but a VPS plan or a dedicated server will allow you to deal with all these aspects of your hosting. Likewise, a shared hosting plan may lack certain crucial extensions that you may need (e.g. Curl, ImageMagick) or it may lack XML-RPC support or support for custom databases.
5. Need for better security
Security is not shared hosting’s forte, and one of the major requirements for an online store is a high degree of imperviousness to attacks. The need for security extends to all aspects of selling and buying goods online from personal data exchanges to credit card payment and stored data security. If you’re planning on accepting credit card payments from major credit card vendors like Visa or MasterCard, you need to host your online store on a PCI DSS (Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard) compliant server. Shared hosting is simply not fit to meet the high level of security requirements demanded from online shops.
6. SSL certificates
Industry requirements dictate the need to implement secure firewall configurations, anti-virus software, secure apps and systems, and encryption measures that all stem from consumer protection rationales. To guarantee the secure exchange of data needed for the process of ordering and purchasing goods online, SSL certificates are one such industry requirement that is needed to ensure that the information exchange between the consumers’ browser and your site is carried out in a secure environment made possible by encryption.
7. Dedicated IP
To install an SSL certificate, you’ll need a dedicated IP address. But you’ll also want a dedicated IP address if you’re planning on using third party applications on your site (e.g. shipping provider or payment provider APIs). Another reason to use a dedicated IP is to avoid blacklisting by Google or spam filters, which brings us to our next point regarding the safeguarding of the reputation of your website.
Sharing the same IP address with other websites hosted on the same shared hosting can also backfire reputation wise. If you’re trying to build up a spotless reputation as an online business, having the same IP address with that of an adult website or a spamming site can put the reliability and credibility of your business at risk.
All your efforts in making your website stand out, spending time on creating amazing calls to action, making your website easy to navigate and your products showcased in the most enticing way possible, will not mean much if you’re site is facing serious downtimes when it matters most (e.g. after a strong online marketing campaign). Unfortunately, downtimes caused by high traffic spikes are not uncommon with shared hosting. To make sure your website has a near 100% uptime, choose a hosting company with consistently good uptimes and a hosting plan that comes with high availability guarantees.
10. Better support
As nothing is fully impervious to failure, when things go south, dedicated support and support responsiveness make sure hosting related issues are dealt with in a timely manner. It’s not uncommon to have a differential treatment when it comes to support afforded for different types of hosting plans. Shared hosting clients may not have the same benefits in terms of support as subscribers to more exclusive plans do.
What type of hosting should you use instead?
If shared hosting is a no-go for eCommerce, what hosting plan should you consider instead? Both VPS and dedicated hosting plans will check off all the requirements that shared hosting plans failed to do so, that is, both dedicated and VPS servers will give you full control over the configuration of your server environment, will meet performance and security requirements for eCommerce sites, and will make sure any hosting related issues are granted the responsive support you need in such times.
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