Shared Hosting or VPS/Dedicated Hosting?
Shared hosting is a cost-effective solution for many sites. The rates are lower, the features are oftentimes almost as good as what you’d get with VPS or dedicated hosting and, if your website is not bandwidth intensive, it might seem like the right way to go. There are some concerns you should keep in mind, however.
Some Things to Consider When Deciding On a Hosting Platform
When you’re on shared hosting, you are sharing your server space with however many other websites that the hosting company has decided to include on that server. When someone makes a request of the server, the server offers up whatever page is associated with the request. In most cases, other users of the same server will not have the ability to alter or deface your page. If, however, one of the other users on your server does not have robust security or has other security holes, it can allow a hacker to gain access to that server, and that could potentially give them access to all files on that server – including your files. They could potentially have the access to delete or alter your files and data, or even steal confidential information. A hacker can also set the server to offer up a phishing page, no matter which page on the shared server a user requested. This means that even if you are careful and diligent in your security practices, mistakes of others can leave you wide open.
Another major complaint we hear is sharing of resources. Remember, every website on a shared server – and there could be hundreds – also has a need for cpu, memory and bandwidth. All of this is shared between the websites hosted on that server. If someone starts using a lot of resources, it could hurt your website and slow things down. Most hosting companies have certain controls in place to prevent this, but I can tell you that it does not always work. Each physical server has an initial and an operating cost – the cost of the hardware and software and the ongoing cost to keep it running – cooling, power, bandwidth and maintenance. In order to get the most ROI of their servers, some hosting companies will put as many accounts on a server as they can get away with. Some use bait and switch tactics – when you initially sign up, you have ample of resources, but over the next few months, you will find your site slowing down for no apparent reason. Some hosting companies will simply cut your access if you start exceeding certain parameters without warning. You should evaluate all this before you decide on a hosting company or hosting plan.
Examples of some issues we have encountered:
Hostgator – Overall their services are very reliable, and their support is good and they don’t nickel and dime you; however, if you have a database intensive application, they may simply block your access to your own database without any warning. This is happened to one of our clients twice before they signed on with us. Hostgator later apologized, but as you can imagine, the website was down for a bit till we were able to connect another database. We ended up moving that client to a dedicated server.
Go Daddy – Go Daddy is another reliable hosting company, but we have encountered their bait and switch tactics more than once. We now recommend to our clients to avoid them for any applications using a database and that includes many such applications such as Joomla or Magento. For instance, their shared plan “Ultra” is supposed to be super-fast, and when you first sign it, it is great; however, within a few months, I suspect they start withdrawing resources, as we have seen in numerous cases where the website starts to really crawl. There had been no changes or updates to the websites and when we complained they emailed you cookie cutter responses about how we should optimize our website. Go Daddy also nickels and dimes you to death – charging for private domain registrations, email accounts etc.
1&1 – This is also one of the top tier companies and their main strength is their support as well as all-inclusive packages. Most of their packages have just about everything included, including at least one free domain and free private registration.. They are not the fastest either, but they are good for non-database intensive applications. One of their biggest shortcommings is the inability to have fine control over your packages.
Disclaimer: Even though these hosting companies have their faults, they may have their place in your website strategy. We own or manage multiple accounts at all three of these companies, so we have intimate knowledge of each, and depending our clients needs, we may recommend one of their companies.
Why VPS or Dedicated Hosting Might Be Better
With either VPS or dedicated web hosting, you get more control over the server itself. This means that you can set up passwords that are strong enough for serious websites, you can control access to your site more reliably and, of course, you don’t have to worry that other site owners on the same server have created security problems that your site may end up paying the price for.
Maintenance and Costs:
While VPS and dedicated server can be lot secure, there are obvious cost considerations. Whereas you can get a reasonable shared server plan for $10-$20/month, VPS and dedicated servers start at around $50/month for very basic configurations. Also, in most cases, unless you get the managed option, where you pay the hosting company to manage the server, you will have to have some in house expertise to setup and maintain the server. It may cost you $250-$350 initially to get everything set up including firewalls, antivirus, OS hardening etc.
You also have the option of purchasing your own server and keeping it on premises or even host it independently at a data center.
There are likely several different points of access that are password restricted on your server. This will include administrative interfaces such as cPanel and admin pages on CMS software such as Joomla! or WordPress. It’s important to make sure that your passwords are set up to be genuinely secure. The real advantage in not sharing server space is that you don’t have to worry about other companies or site administrators setting up their security in a way that threatens the security of your own site. With shared hosting, this can be a concern and, for businesses that want the best possible security, having your own server is always a good thing where security is concerned, particularly, if you have an ecommerce website or are collecting sensitive customer data.
Very few web development companies will take the time or effort to analyze your specific situation when it comes to hosting. At Level9Solutions, we will take the time to understand your business needs and your overall website strategy before making appropriate recommendations.