Dedicated vs Shared Hosting: The Main Pros and Cons

Last updated on December 5, 2017 @ 2:04 pm

You’ve decided to take your business online, and now you’re trying to figure out what content to put out there – and how. One of the main considerations for any website is hosting. You have to look at your needs in terms of speed, storage, and customer security, and decide if the hosting – and the price – is right for you.

In the world of website hosting, there are basically two main options – dedicated and shared hosting. In this article, we’ll look at the pros and cons of both, to give you the information you need to decide which is the best hosting provider for you to get your business online – and running smoothly.

Types of hosting

· Shared hosting

If you’re like most of us, you’ve probably rented an apartment in a complex or a building at some point in your life. You didn’t have the whole place to yourself, but there was a little corner carved out for your world, and you paid your bills every month to your landlord and it was all yours. At the same time, you shared the building and all of its communal properties with dozens of other tenants.

The apartment complex analogy is commonly used to describe shared hosting – and for good reason. Renting an apartment isn’t ideal, and the dream for most people is to own their own exclusive property, but for reasons of budget and necessity, for most of us, it’s more than enough at a certain point in our lives.

Shared hosting is the most affordable type of web hosting. Your site is kept on the host’s (landlord’s – if we’re still on this analogy) server along with hundreds or even thousands of other sites. You pay less, and you have someone to turn to if there are any problems running your site, but typically with all those other sites (tenants) sharing the same bandwidth, you don’t get the same sort of speed or customizable options as you would with a dedicated private server.

· Dedicated server

If you’ve made the move to a dedicated server, then you have your own server that no other website uses. The performance will remain high and consistent, and you won’t have to worry about any other sites hogging the bandwidth and slowing things down. This sort of performance and independence comes with a cost though – dedicated servers are more expensive than shared hosting, and you are responsible for fixing any hiccups in the service, unless you pay for a maintenance service of some sort.

Price

Shared hosting will always be cheaper than a dedicated private server because you’re sharing the space with multiple other sites, sometimes running into the hundreds or thousands. Industry leaders like Bluehost charge as little as $3.49/month for an intro level shared package, and for just $5.45/month, they kick up the features, offering unlimited domains, space, file transfer, email, and 24/7 customer service. For comparison, Bluehost’s cheapest dedicated server option is $79.99/month, and a premium package runs to at least $119.99/month. That said, most dedicated service providers offer a significantly cheaper rate if you pay by year.

Godaddy Dedicated vs Shared Hosting

With GoDaddy.com, when you purchase a website-builder plan, you also get GoDaddy free hosting as part of the deal. Godaddy’s the “economy” shared hosting plan costs only $3.99/month (and then $8.25/month after the first month) and comes with a website, 100GB storage, unlimited bandwidth, up to 100 email addresses and a free domain for the length of your plan. With Web.com, the “essential hosting” runs $5.95/month and includes 300GB disk space, 100 email boxes, and a free domain.

The difference in price between dedicated and shared services is dramatic and should be a central consideration when deciding which type of hosting is right for you, and which might not be worth the price.

Speed and performance

Performance for sites hosted on dedicated servers tends to be faster and smoother and for an obvious reason – there is no one else on the server sucking up the bandwidth. Dedicated hosting provides faster speed, connectivity and upload time and typically unlimited or far higher data and storage. Your site will load faster whether it’s accessed on a desktop or mobile device, and there will be fewer hassles for those accessing it.

For an eCommerce site speed can be a major issue. Customers may be less likely to use your site in the future if they ran into performance problems the first time around, and if they can purchase the same goods or services on a site that loads faster, chances are they might. It’s up to you to consider whether or not this potential tradeoff in speed is one that justifies the higher expenditure.

Maintenance and customer service

You know when the sink in your apartment sprung a leak? You called the management company or the landlord and they (hopefully) took care of it. The same principle applies with shared servers – you don’t have the place all to yourself, but you’re not responsible for taking care of troubleshooting when it comes to technical issues. You can also typically count on solid customer service options, like with GoDaddy.com, which provides free customer phone lines that are open 24/7, as well as an option to chat online with a service representative.

With a dedicated private server, you’re responsible for making sure things run smoothly, which means you’ll need to know a little bit about running a server. That said, most dedicated server companies include very solid customer support (by phone, chat, or email) as part of the price and if need be, you can also hire a company to take care of managing your server for you.

Security

On a shared server, you’re not the only user on board, and you probably won’t know who else is using the server. Depending on what the other sites on the server are up to, they could potentially put your site – and your clients and readers – at risk. You’ll probably face more hacking attempts and viruses, though if you’re with a good hosting service, they will take steps to fight this off. Many hosting companies and leading site builders out there include security measures in their service packages, including Web.com, which equips every customer website with SSL to safeguard data.

With a dedicated server, you don’t have to worry about other sites on the server taking risks that compromise you or your site. One option is to go with a shared server, but find one that also offers a premium security and/or service upgrade that will go the extra mile to make sure your site is safe.

Customizability

With shared hosting, you’ll have to run your site with the same software programs or utilities that are supported by the host. Typically you’re limited to the default configuration and not allowed to make modifications.

Dedicated servers give you much more freedom. You can decide what to use to run your site and can customize your own control panel how you see fit.

Shared Servers:

Pros

Cons

  • More affordable
  • Slower performance
  • Maintenance is taken care of
  • Less customizable than a dedicated server
  • No technical know-how needed
  • Security is much more of an issue

Dedicated Servers:

Pros

Cons

  • Better performance
  • Typically far more expensive
  • Security is much tighter
  • Some technical know-how required
  • Completely customizable
  •  Better customer service

So, who has the edge?

It really depends on what matters to you.

Feature

 The winner

  • Security
  • Dedicated Server
  • Performance
  • Dedicated Server
  • Customizability
  • Dedicated Server
  •  Price
  •  Shared Server
  • Ease of use
  •  Shared Server

 

When it comes to website hosting, there are clear pros and cons to both shared hosting and dedicated server hosting. When it comes to security and performance, there is an obvious advantage to dedicated servers. If we’re looking at price and ease of maintaining, then a shared hosting service will be a better option.

The bottom line is, it depends on you. What are your needs? If you have a simple WordPress blog or online store with only a few thousand visits a month, then upgrading to a dedicated server is going to cost you more than it’s probably worth. For a major Ecommerce store or a site that has tens of thousands of visitors on a monthly or daily basis, moving to a dedicated server is a smart and worthwhile move to make sure that your business has the engine it needs to run smoothly.

It’s up to you to decide what’s worth the investment, and more importantly, what web hosting service your website needs today and down the road.

David Brandon

David Brandon

I'm a web developer & blogger enthusiast, helping novice users with the principles of site creation.

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