What is Shared Hosting and How it Works?
Shared hosting is the most cost effective option for hosting a website. When we are talking about shared hosting plan, we are referring to a web server, which is partitioned in multiple accounts, where customers can manage their emails, websites and databases separately, but sharing the same server resources and the involved costs as well.
What to Expect From a Shared Host?
A shared hosting plan offers you all the necessary tools to build, manage and grow your website. Whatever you build your site with a site builder, or you choose to install WordPress, Joomla or other content management system, on a shared hosting plan you can do all of those. Here you can also add databases, manage email addresses, forwarders and auto-responders and add domains to your account. Some companies will allow you to add only couple of domains to your account, others will give you the option to add as many as you want. Shared plans can vary from company to company, in both features and pricing.
Here is a list of features of a good shared hosting plan:
- Should cost less than $10 per month paid upfront for one year
- Offer a trial period with money back guarantee to test service
- Offer tools to build your website (site builder and script installation)
- Offer 24/7 technical support to help you out with any issue
- Allow you to host more than one website on one account
Top 3 Recommended Shared Hosting Providers
#1 iPage Essential Plan
starting from $1.99 / month
#2 BlueHost Basic Plan
starting from $3.95 / month
#3 InMotion Power Plan
starting from $4.89 / month
What is Shared Hosting?
Shared hosting is the most popular choice for those who are just starting their first website, because it’s a low cost solution and can work really well if one chooses the right host. It is the ideal choice for beginners.
Shared hosting is a type of web hosting service where multiple websites are stored on a single server that is connected to the internet. The users (customers) share the cost of the upkeep and maintenance of said server, which is why it is such an economic solution.
To understand it in even simpler terms, imagine a large house filled with individual rooms. All of those rooms are for rent and anyone who pays rent can live in them. All of you share the bill for the electricity, water and other related costs, while living beside each other, peacefully in your rooms. Such is the nature of shared hosting. But this system comes with its disadvantages as well. If you share a house with someone noisy who stays up late at night, it won’t be as much fun as you have expected. What someone does in that house effects everyone else and it’s the same with shared web hosting.
If you want to grasp an understanding of shared web hosting, to know whether it’s good for your website or not, then you’ve come to the right place!
Here, we’ll explain everything you have to know about shared web hosting, its advantages and disadvantages, and how you can find a really cheap service that does the job for you.
So, without further ado, let’s get down to it!
The Advantages and Disadvantages of Shared Hosting
Nothing in this world comes without its own set of flaws and neither does shared hosting. There are plenty of better hosting solutions out there, that’s for sure, but neither of them are so cheap that anyone who has started their first website, could afford it.
Let’s see what good things shared hosting has going on and why it is such a popular choice among beginners.
The first and most eye catching feature of shared hosting, is its low price. The fact that it is offered at an extremely affordable rate, is its biggest advantage. You can have a shared hosting plan around $2 – $5 and enjoy all its benefits. It will definitely give you enough storage space you can use, or maybe even an unlimited amount.
You are provided all the necessary resources for running your online business or website. Your initial bandwidth and storage space requirements are taken care of. Your website will also have the resources for it to run smoothly and at a high speed. Of course, this largely depends on which hosting provider you choose, because not all of them are as fast as you would expect.
When you require more resources, you can always upgrade your plan to a higher one, which makes it very convenient. You can manage resources, applications, scripts, installations and more through a convenient control panel that your host provides. There, you have everything visually displayed, so it’s easy to understand what you’re doing. Content management systems such as WordPress and Joomla! can be installed with a single click.
Also, the administration and maintenance of the server is taken care of by the provider, so you don’t have to concern yourself with anything else but running your website. Having large groups of trained professionals looking after the servers also makes them more reliable.
Provides Multiple eMails and Databases
Even though shared hosting is the cheapest hosting option there is, you still get an abundance of email accounts and possibly databases too. Some providers provide you with 500 email accounts and even an unlimited number with higher plans. You can also have multiple databases, maybe a couple of hundred and even thousands of them at some companies.
Disadvantages of Shared Web Hosting
Shared web hosting comes with a fair set of disadvantages that make some people think twice before completely trusting their online business to it. Although these failures rarely happen, they have to be factored in.
Shared hosting isn’t the most dependable, because there are a lot of users and websites crowded into one server. If one of them uses up too much resources or anything of fault happens, there’s a good chance that the server will crash. Although there are plenty of people looking after and maintaining these servers and there are a lot of security measures put into place, the machines can still fail.
If you leave your house door open, someone might just walk in and gain access to all the other rooms in the building. The same can happen with shared hosting. With so many websites crowded into one server, only one webmaster has to touch a sensitive element, such as HT Access, and they might leak sensitive information from the server. They could also conduct other malicious activities that can end up getting the server’s IP blacklisted, which would give your search engine ranking a serious punch in the gut. The webmasters themselves might end up getting access to your files.
Although this does sound bad, these issues can easily be solved by finding a reliable hosting company. A commercial hosting company that cares about its users and its reputation won’t let such scenarios play out.
The more people a vehicle has to carry, the slower it will be. This analogy stands true with shared hosting as well. Since there are plenty of users on a single server, sharing the same resources, the servers’ performance might be a bit shaky at times. In fact, if let’s say one website suddenly uses up 90% of the server’s resources, the remaining hundreds of websites are left with the remaining 10%. Of course, at reliable hosting providers, there are limitations that prevent this from happening. But the way resources are dispersed in shared hosting is often imbalanced.
So, if someone has a sudden increase in traffic, it will impact the rest of the websites on the server and maybe even slow their loading times a little.
How To Choose Shared Hosting?
With so many hosting providers bombarding you with their advertisements and offers, it’s easy to get lost and fall into the trap of paralysis of analysis.
Our main goal is to choose a hosting service that offers all the benefits of shared hosting, while keeping the disadvantages in check as much as possible. Lucky for us, there are a lot of these. There are plenty of trustworthy hosting providers that have more than 10 years of experience under their belt.
You can’t find out much about a hosting provider based on their offers and what they publish on their websites. You should read reviews and maybe even a few user submitted comments to know what kind of experience a perspective company leaves their users with. So, let’s see how you can find one of these for yourself!
What Makes a Good Shared Hosting Plan?
Let’s outline the core aspects of a decent shared hosting plan, to make sure that you’ll be completely satisfied with the service you’re choosing. If you’re looking to host a blog, a portfolio website, a company profile website, an informational website, or you’re a developer who’s looking to test some freshly built sites, you’ll understand what you’re looking for and find the right service within the next 5 minutes.
You wouldn’t tolerate any electricity outages in your house, and neither should you tolerate your website being down at any time. Servers can get unstable at times, which might end up shutting your website down for a few minutes a day, which isn’t much, but it adds up.
It’s important to make sure that your website doesn’t experience any downtimes and it’s available throughout every second of the year.
A hosting provider’s reliability can be measured according to one simple factor, uptime. A server’s uptime is measured throughout a year and the results are given in percentages. This means that if a server’s uptime is 99.80%, it was available 99.80% of the year.
You want to look for a server that has at least a 99.70% uptime, to ensure that it’s reliable enough.
Where can you get these measurements, you ask? You can see them in our reviews and plenty of other reviews on the internet, where the reviewers have tried and tested a web hosting service.
Speed and reliability are the two most important factors of any web server. They walk hand in hand and ensure that your website is available and runs smoothly at all times.
People are getting more and more impatient as web services get faster. For some of them, waiting more than a second for a webpage to load is too much. If your site takes more than 2 seconds to load, then you’ll lose about 40% of your visitors, because they’ll just click away. If you have an online store, it will be harder to make those conversions you’re looking for.
The benchmark for a “fast enough” server is a 500 – 800 millisecond loading time. If your website loads in less than a second, it will definitely be responsive enough to provide your visitors with an outstanding user experience.
Once again, you can get the speed measurements from our reviews or other reviews on the internet. But always use this benchmark to make sure that your hosting provider won’t hold back your website.
Good support is the third but a very important piece of the puzzle. There will be couple of things you won’t get at first and you’re bound to have a couple of questions, no matter how much technical experience you have.
Also if there’s ever a problem, you’ll want to have an experienced group of experts at your back who won’t take too much time to get in touch with you and will get straight to fixing your issue.
As with any other thing that you give money for, it’s best if you do a bit of research beforehand. The most reliable places to find information about a hosting company’s customer service is user submitted comments. Although, remember you’re going to read comments of people, who are writing about other people, so it won’t be without flaw, no matter which company you’re researching.
Depending on what kind of website you’re looking to build, a host can provide you with some really useful features and apps. These features can be a different cPanel or features that give more control over your server.
Every hosting provider has their own unique list of features, so make sure you choose one that suits you. If you don’t care it makes your choice a lot easier!
Always make sure that you have read through the Terms of Service, no matter which hosting company’s service you wish to buy into.
Time To Get Started!
With keeping all the above mentioned benefits and criteria in perspective, these three companies offer the best shared hosting services right now.
iPage is the cheapest, decent hosting provider.
They aim most of their services towards beginners, bloggers and small businesses who are just starting out online and don’t want to break the bank with a too expensive service. iPage gives them what they actually need, which is an unbelievably cheap hosting service, for only $2 per month!
Although, in the past there were cases when iPage wasn’t the most reliable option in the business, they have improved since then. They have upgraded their data centers, thus making their customers more satisfied with the reliability and speed of their service.
Right now, uptime on iPage’s servers moves between 99.70% and 99.98%, which means that they are quite reliable throughout the year, with just a bit of downtime. Also if you consider how low cost their service is, this is great value for your money.
iPage isn’t the fastest shared hosting plan you can get, but it meets the average requirement. You can expect to experience website loading speeds between 600 ms and 1100 ms. This means that sometimes your webpage will take just a bit more than one seconds to load, but that’s hardly noticeable. Most of the time, you’ll have it open in under one second if your website’s code isn’t faulty.
Their support team is good, very good. They don’t take more than 20 – 30 minutes to respond on live chat and you can also call them on phone or reach them through email. They won’t waste any of your time and they’ll fix the issue as fast as possible.
Along with your service, you’ll get plenty of extras. You get a free domain name, which is great for beginners, because it spares them an initial investment. You can also use a free website builder, to put together a website with simple drag and drop tools.
To top it off, iPage also offers the SiteLock security software as well, for free. It will constantly monitor your hosting space and take out any malware, viruses and take note of potential security risks. You’ll also get other useful app integrations with any Google application and PayPal. If you want to install WordPress or any other CMS, you can do it with a single click.
As I mentioned, you can get your hands on iPage’s first plan for just $1.99 per month, though you’ll have to sign a 2-year contract to get that price. If you consider that this is the cheapest option out there and how much value it provides, it’s really worth it. You can also cancel your subscription within the 30-day money-back guarantee period.
With this plan, you’ll be provided with unlimited storage space and bandwidth and also an unlimited number of domain names and databases you can use. I like to call this the cheap 2x plan that we can wholeheartedly recommend to any beginner. But it’s important to note that this company has a number of upsells too. For example, if you cancel your plan earlier, you’ll have to pay 35$ for an early cancellation. Which is more than you would pay for an entire year of service. To stay safe, read the terms of service before you subscribe to their service. If you want to enjoy this really cheap introductory price, you’ll have to sign that 2-year contract and stick with iPage as long as it lasts.
You can also leverage other hosting plans as well, such as the WP Starter pack that comes with a different, customized control panel and a number of preinstalled plugins that will prove to be useful for WordPress users. It’s convenient and a good place for any beginner to start. It costs $3.75 / mo.
Finally, there’s iPage’s highest shared hosting plan, the WP essential plan, which is great for hosting a WordPress site. For paying a $6.95 monthly fee, you can leverage all of the benefits that iPage’s shared hosting can offer, along with their SSD based infrastructure that will add a lot more speed to your website.
So, if you’re looking to have the most cost effective hosting solution possible, try out iPage’s services and enjoy it to the fullest. If you don’t mind paying an extra $1 per month, you’ll find a more solid plan, even on this list.
Now, InMotion is my personal favorite, because this company stands for something. They aren’t just demanding the big bucks for their services. In fact, they demand less and give more. This is the reason why their customers trusted them with hosting more than 300,000 domains.
This company doesn’t just talk about providing fast hosting services and good customer support, they do it. All of the numbers speak in their favor, because they work hard on their services and put their customers first, which makes them a sure winner in my book. Another reason is that you don’t have much thinking to do when you look at their services to decide you want to use them.
InMotion’s servers have an average uptime of 99.97% and they keep themselves firmly to that number throughout the year. So, there’s virtually no downtime whatsoever. Your website will be up and running from the moment you upload it.
Their servers are fast, really fast, which makes InMotion’s services faster than 60% of the industry. This is in part thanks to their SSD architecture that powers all of their hosting services. At other companies, you’d have to pay twice as much as you would to InMotion, even to come near to this speed.
The average loading speed on InMotion’s servers move between 450 ms and 650 ms. If your website has a tidy code, it will load in a blink of an eye, no matter where it is viewed from, in the world. These numbers speak highly for InMotion and to top it all off, they have a truly award winning customer support. They claim to be a leader in customer support and as far as I can tell, that has rang true every time.
Most of their customers have given positive testimonials about the service. They are fast, polite and fix your problem as soon as possible. What more would you need? A customer support agent doesn’t take more than 5 minutes to respond and answer your question or help you out with the task at hand.
The only downside with InMotion is the account activation, because it can get quite time consuming. It’s even more time consuming if you’re outside the US. You’ll have to provide identification before your account is activated and it also takes time for the company to process that.
As I already mentioned InMotion has a lot more speaking for it, thanks to the many free extras they provide along with their services. For starters, they did a solid for all of their customers by providing free site transfers and free data backups. Most hosting providers charge a lot of cash for regular automated backups, but here, you get it for free.
They also have amazing eCommerce support, thanks to their partnerships with leading eCommerce services such as Petrashop, SiteGround and others. They provide easy integrations for many payment processors and app integrations. To integrate Google apps as seamlessly as possible, InMotion offers a setup wizard, through which you can integrate any Google app within a matter of minutes.
InMotion offers 3 shared hosting plans, with the Launch Plan being the cheapest, which costs only $2.95 per month. It comes with a free domain, support for 2 websites, 2 MySQL databases, 6 parked domains and 25 subdomains.
They also have the Power Plan which offers support for 6 websites, 6 MySQL databases, 26 parked domains and 100 subdomains. It costs $7.99 per month.
Finally, there’s the Pro Plan, which provides an unlimited amount of all the above mentioned services. Pair that with the high speed and stable architecture and you have yourself the best hosting a human can wish for. It costs $13.99 per month.
Keep in mind that you will have to sign a 24-month contract to have these introductory prices. If you want to use InMotion’s services for only 12 months, you’ll have to pay more. It’s just the way things go with web hosting.
For more information about InMotion’s services, check out their official website!
BlueHost has made quite a name for itself among WordPress users, because they work to optimize their services for the content management platform and to make them as low-cost as possible. This is why they are among the 3 recommended hosting providers on WordPress’ official website. BlueHost simply knows what the system requires to function at its best, but they are fully capable of hosting any other type of websites.
BlueHost is also one of best choices for beginners, because it’s easy to start up your website and it’s done quickly.
Their services check in all the right places, with an average uptime of 99.90%, which is a testament that your website will be stable and up all the time. You won’t notice any downtimes or even if you do, your website will be back up in a second.
BlueHost is very reliable and stable, but the loading speeds however aren’t the fastest. Websites stored on BlueHost servers, load within a range of 900 ms and 1200 ms. It isn’t high speed, but it is still makes website’s load within a decent timeframe.
Their customer support is also decent. BlueHost’s experts take about less than an hour (about 40 minutes) to respond when you send them a message on live chat or on email.
You can start using BlueHost for $3.49, which is quite a good price, but it requires that you tie yourself down with a 36-month contract. If you want to have a 12-month contract, you’ll have to pay $4.95 per month, and you can get a much better service for that money. So it’s worth thinking it through.
This first shared plan has a few things speaking for it though. It incorporates the stable uptime and 1000 ms speed that I mentioned above. It also offers unlimited bandwidth and storage space. But there’s actually a limit to that, as the terms of service says. You can’t have more than 1,000 databases, and they also can’t go over 3GB, because you might end up having your account terminated.
If you need something more powerful, you can always scale up to one of the higher plans.
Check out BlueHost’s official website for more information!
There you have it, comprehensive guide to choosing your first web hosting service! It’s quite easy to choose once you know what you need and all the choices have been laid out for you. Whatever additional information you require you can read it either in the company’s terms of service or in one of the numerous reviews on the internet.
I hope that you have enjoyed reading through this article and that we’ll see you again soon enough!