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What Is a Shared Server

In a shared server hosting setup, each client is given a portion of a server to use. The percent is based on the package purchased, but several clients will have their websites hosted on the same machine (in most cases there are at least 100 clients on one machine). The websites will share IP addresses in most situations, so to an outsider, they appear to be from the same server (an important note on this when we get to the cons section).

Pros of Shared Servers

A shared server is the most affordable web hosting option, because the web host can provide several clients with hosting service using just one machine. Also there is a lot of competition for shared server hosting services, and competition drives prices down. Set up time for a Shared server is minimal, often it is immediate so you can be up and running within a few minutes; However, this setup does have some drawbacks.

Cons of Shared Servers

In most shared server environments, the clients are given guidelines as to how much traffic they are allowed to have* or how much information can be spread (data transfer) from the website. If a customer violates this agreement, it can tax the server. If the server has to shut down or slow down to deal with the overload, the other clients who are sharing the server will lose service. This can be just a brief period of time, but when it comes to the Internet, time spent without a website means lost income or advertising benefit or even damage to your brand and reputation. Most hosts work to resolve these problems before they affect the entire server, but the possibility of losing service due to the actions of other users does exist in a shared server setup.

Shared hosting can create problems with email as well. If one of the users on the server is frequently reported for sending out spam, your email can get flagged as well. This could cause your emails to be blocked by spam filters or sent back as undelivered, simply because the server has been blocked.

One way to help isolate some of the shared hosting problems is to get a dedicated IP hosting account. A dedicated IP hosting account can still be on a shared server, but you have your very own IP address. This can come in handy when you have an image and  brand name to protect. Because you can easily see all the domain names that are hosted on a shared server (under the same IP address) you may have a website that you do not wish to be associated with come up on your shared hosting account. By having your domain or multiple domains on a different IP you can overcome this shared hosting drawback. But the best way is to look into dedicated hosting services becuase quite often for the price of a higher end shared hosting account you can already get an affordable dedicated server. Interested in other types of hosting? Then return to the web host comparison page.

* Internet traffic used to be measured in server hits and data transfer but now it is measured by server resources used and data transfer, since some type of server hits take up a lot more resources than others, such as running a PHP script.


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