If you’re looking to start a blog, you’ve probably already heard that you should use WordPress. But, to follow that advice, you’ll need some form of web hosting. Unfortunately, the cost of hosting a website can get very expensive very fast. However, that’s no reason to panic as shared hosting is an affordable and popular option. But, what exactly is shared hosting?
Servers, Servers, Servers
In order for your website to be publicly accessible, it needs to live on a server somewhere. This can be a server that you run in your basement. However, it’s much more common to outsource website hosting. This not only makes your life easier, but it can usually save you quite a bit of money as well.
Web servers need a constant supply of electricity and other resources, but aren’t necessarily always doing something useful. So, if you run a server in your basement for a website that doesn’t get much traffic, you’d likely end up losing a ton of money. Not only on the server itself, but also on paying for its internet connection, electricity, maintenance, etc. Unless you’re running a very popular website, dedicating an entire server to just that one site doesn’t make much sense. That’s where shared hosting comes in.
Instead of dedicating an entire server to run just a single site, shared hosting makes more efficient use of a server’s resources. Shared hosting, as its name implies, shares the resources of a single server across many websites. Doing this has both benefits and downsides, and whether or not shared hosting makes sense for your site will depend on a lot of factors.
One of the main benefits of shared hosting is its price. Since hosting providers can have multiple paying users on a single server, the costs of running that server get split across many users. As such, each user has to pay only a fraction of the cost of running the server.
Another important benefit of shared hosting is that you don’t need to manage a server. Your hosting provider will take care of all the maintenance for you, so you have more time to focus on your site. When you run your own server, it’s up to you to take care of everything. This goes beyond just installing software updates; you also need to configure the web server and database software yourself, as well as make sure everything is secured properly. A single security vulnerability could at best take down your entire website, and at worst leak your user’s information.
The main downside with sharing a server’s resources is that there may not be enough to go around. Most of the time, not all of the websites will be getting a surge of traffic at the same time, so there’s more than enough resources to handle the load. However, if too many websites get too much traffic, all the websites hosted on that server could slow down or even crash completely. Some web hosts have mechanisms for dealing with this, such as limiting the resources each user can use, as well as temporarily moving sites with high traffic to to other servers.
Additionally, if another website on the same server as yours has a security vulnerability, your website could be compromised as well. However, reputable web hosting providers have security measures in place to mitigate the risks, such as isolating users from each other.
Should You Use Shared Hosting?
If you’re just starting out, or have a low traffic website, then shared hosting is probably the best option. It’s affordable, easy to use, and just works. However, once your website starts growing, shared hosting may no longer be able to deliver adequate performance. When that happens, it’s time to look into other forms of hosting, like Virtual Private Servers, or even dedicated servers for larger websites.
If you need more help choosing the best hosting type and plan for your WordPress, WPBeginner has pretty good guide.