When you first created a website, most likely you will go for shared web hosting first because the cost is low. It is always good to start low, save some money and upgrade the hosting service when the number of visitors has become too much for shared web hosting to withstand.
You might be wondering why hosting companies can sell their shared hosting package at such a low price, commonly around $4/5 per month. That is not the lowest, there are some selling at even low price, around $1.49 per month, which is the cheapest web hosting package I have ever found online.
Why do they cost so low, while the specifications written there look prettier than more expensive hosting packages? What I mean here are UNLIMITED bandwidth, UNLIMITED disk space, etc. Here’s the trick, well not really a trick, shared hosting DOES really mean you are sharing one single server with tons of people. That is the reason why they cost so low. Just because the server is shared, you can’t ask your host to install specific softwares just for you.
Also, when other website hosted on the same server is experiencing heavy traffic, it will causes your site to load very slow too. Same thing happens if the hosting company oversell their services (allowing too many users to share a single server in order to earn more with less). However, this is not usually happen to good hosting companies. So, you have to pick your host carefully, read trusted reviews or recommendations by friends.
Besides the server specifications and softwares installed on the server, a good shared hosting should have responsive customer support service too, via phone or email. Also, money back guarantee is very useful just in case you want to switch your web host for some reason after purchasing.
Furthermore, a good shared hosting should have at least more than 95% uptime guarantee, though most companies usually guarantee 99% uptime or more. Or else, you might lose potential customers when they can’t access your site properly. You might be pissed too, when you can’t access your own website when you want to blog. You can subscribe to web monitoring services to monitor your website 24/7.
Shared Hosting often comes with a cPanel, which allows you to manage your site very easily in a user-friendly interface, such as: setting up domain, subdomain, managing FTP account, SQL database, backup data, and automate installation/upgrade of web softwares (common ones are Fantastico & Softaculous)
In my experience, a GOOD shared hosting is good enough for:
- websites with normal functionality where you don’t need specific softwares
- websites with average number of visitors that is less than 100,000 visitors per month
- customers that need a domain name beside just hosting (because the purchase often comes with free domain name)
When your host started to complain about your website, whether it is getting way too much traffic for a shared hosting, consuming too much bandwidth or server resources, you might want to upgrade to higher package such as VPS or dedicated server. They will cost you a lot more, but they give you better control of your site and better uptime. We will discuss about that next time.
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