Shared Hosting

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What is Shared Hosting?

Shared hosting is a web service that allows multiple website publishers to use the same server and network resources. Shared hosting is a cost-effective and user-friendly option for hosting low-traffic websites on third-party servers. It may also be referred to as shared web hosting or shared website hosting.


Shared hosting can be acquired through a tiered subscription model. Typically, each tier guarantees how much central processing unit (CPU) time, Random Access Memory (RAM), storage capacity, and bandwidth the subscriber is entitled to use. Customization options will vary depending on the specific shared hosting plan.

What is Shared Hosting?

Key Takeaways

  • Shared hosting is a web service that can be acquired through a tiered subscription model.
  • Shared hosting is a good option for website publishers who want someone else to manage web server infrastructure and backend services.
  • It is budget-friendly because service subscribers share the cost of server acquisition, maintenance, and network resources.
  • It’s important to research service providers because subscription options are likely to have different features and resource guarantees.
  • If your website’s traffic grows, you may need to upgrade to a virtual private server (VPS) or a dedicated physical server.

How Shared Hosting Works

In order to understand how shared hosting works, it can be useful to understand what a web server is and what it does.

A web server is software that listens to client requests, processes them, and sends back responses. When web server software runs on a single computer, the hardware may also be referred to as a server.

In the context of shared web hosting, the amount of server resources each subscriber can use at any given time depends on the subscription package.

Free tiers usually offer enough resources to host a small website, while higher, more expensive tiers provide additional resources suitable for larger websites or multiple small websites.

Who Should Use Shared Hosting?

Shared hosting is a useful option for individuals and small businesses with low budgets, limited technical expertise, and minimal traffic expectations for the website they are building.

Shared hosting can also be useful for individuals who want to store data archives off-site or host small-scale web apps, like calculators, that require minimal network infrastructure support.

Shared Hosting Characteristics

The shared hosting delivery model for websites has several distinctive characteristics:

  • Back end costs are covered by multiple subscribers.
  • Free subscription tiers are typically sponsored by advertisers.
  • Paid subscription tiers have user-friendly dashboards that simplify website management tasks such as setting up email accounts, installing applications, and managing databases.
  • Some subscription tiers have one-click install options for popular content management systems (CMSes). This makes it easier for publishers to create and manage website content.

Shared Hosting vs. VPS Hosting & Dedicated Hosting

Shared Hosting vs. VPS Hosting & Dedicated Hosting

Shared hosting, VPS hosting, and dedicated hosting all provide web hosting services with varying levels of control. VPS hosting provides a middle ground between shared hosting and dedicated hosting.

In shared hosting, each website operates within its own home directory, and security configurations prevent one site from directly accessing another site’s data. Because network resources are shared, however, sudden traffic spikes on one site can negatively impact performance for other sites hosted on the same server.

In virtual private server (VPS) hosting, each website has its own virtual server instance, which has its own operating system (OS) and dedicated resources. Virtual private servers allow publishers to have more control than shared hosting.

With dedicated hosting, each subscriber has exclusive access to a physical server and no resources are shared. This setup gives website owners total control over software choices and hardware resource allocation. It also has the most overhead in terms of server maintenance, security and performance management.

Shared Hosting Pros and Cons

Shared hosting has both advantages and disadvantages. On the plus side, it is a cost-effective solution for small business startups because it makes low-traffic websites easy to set up and easy to manage.

On the minus side, website performance and security considerations are largely dependent on the host provider. It’s important for small business owners to research shared hosting providers and choose a reputable host who prioritizes performance, security, and customer support.

The best shared hosting solutions provide reliable uptime and fast loading times, prioritize security measures to protect websites from malware and other cybersecurity threats, are able to resolve technical issues quickly, and can move subscribers from one tier to another without disrupting service.

Shared Hosting Alternatives

When considering alternatives to shared hosting, there are several options that meet different needs.

Managed Web Hosting
This delivery model outsources support for website maintenance (as well as server management) to a managed service provider (MSP). 

This option allows you to put your own physical server in the service provider’s data center. The colocation facility is responsible for physical security, power, and cooling, but you are responsible for everything else.

Reseller Hosting
This option allows you to purchase hosting services and then resell them under your own brand name. It is a good option if you’re looking to start your own hosting company or if you want to add hosting services to your web design or web development business.
Home Server Hosting

This option involves setting up and managing a server in your living quarters. A home server eliminates monthly hosting fees and can be a good option for hosting a personal blog that isn’t optimized for search engines.

The Bottom Line

It’s important to clarify shared hosting’s meaning in the context of tiered service levels so you pick a hosting option that really fits your needs. Each tier in a subscription model will provide different management features and resource levels.

The ideal web hosting solution for small businesses and individuals should be cost-effective and make website management as easy as possible.


What is shared hosting in simple terms?

What is the use of shared hosting?

When should I use shared hosting?

What is the difference between shared hosting and a server?

Who should use shared hosting?

What is the best shared hosting?


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Margaret Rouse
Technology Expert
Margaret Rouse
Technology Expert

Margaret is an award-winning technical writer and teacher known for her ability to explain complex technical subjects to a non-technical business audience. Over the past twenty years, her IT definitions have been published by Que in an encyclopedia of technology terms and cited in articles by the New York Times, Time Magazine, USA Today, ZDNet, PC Magazine, and Discovery Magazine. She joined Techopedia in 2011. Margaret's idea of a fun day is helping IT and business professionals learn to speak each other’s highly specialized languages.