Shared Server Hosting: the Pros and Cons

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Shared Server Hosting: the Pros and Cons

This article is part of a series created in partnership with SiteGround. Thank you for supporting the partners who make SitePoint possible.

The range of hosting options has become bewilderingly complex during the past few years. The basics are simple: a computing device has software installed which can respond to a network event such as a request for a webpage. How that hardware and software is installed, configured, organised, packaged, promoted and sold is the primary difference between all hosting options. Those running large websites or applications could opt for a dedicated server. This would provide a device for their sole use in a data center capable of handling with thousands of daily visitors and heavy processing. However, a dedicated server is overkill for the vast majority of websites with a few dozen pages receiving a few hundred visitors per day. The cost would be prohibitive and the device would run idle most of the time. Shared hosting becomes a more viable option. Web hosts such as SiteGround provide shared servers where you lease private space for your website. Many other companies will be leasing space on the same device so the processing, storage and costs are shared accordingly. In essence, it’s a dedicated server with multiple users.

Ease of Use

Shared servers are possibly the easiest hosting option because you will be provided with a set of pre-installed technologies such as PHP, MySQL, email, web builders, WordPress, free templates, etc. Systems such as cPanel also offer simple configuration through a graphical web interface. Hosts normally offer a wide range of software because, once it has been configured and tested, every client on that system can benefit.


The range of software provided on a shared server can be extensive but you get what you’re given. That may be all you need if your requirements are fairly typical. However, you will not normally be able to install your own software. Options such as Git, Node.js and NoSQL databases are rarely provided because they’re in less demand or more difficult to lock-down. You may need to shop around to find the exact service you require.


Shared hosts normally limit disk space, processing and bandwidth. It’s rarely an issue but your site could be taken down if it exceeds those maximums. The host cannot provide a lesser service to other clients because your site is receiving thousands of requests owing to a successful SEO campaign. However, hosts normally offer upgrades should you require better support, more regular back-ups, additional disk space or migration to a more powerful server. These are often seamless so you can upgrade when necessary.


Performance is dependent on the server’s capabilities and what others are doing on the same device. Resources are shared so your performance will be affected if someone else’s site is busy. As mentioned, hosts may throttle or take down a busy site to ensure performance remains stable. Hosts also vary. Those offering free hosting may assign thousands of clients to an underpowered server. Better hosts will typically assign a few dozen clients to a faster machine. You get what you pay for.


Like dedicated servers, a shared server is only as reliable as the hardware. It will eventually fail. That said, most shared servers have good reliability. A failure could mean dozens of angry customers so hosts have a compelling reason to monitor devices and back-up regularly.


A shared server is locked down to save users from themselves. You won’t be permitted to do anything dangerous or access another user’s account. It’s more difficult to go wrong but a shared host won’t prevent you from trashing a database or deleting every file. Fortunately, back-ups may be a click away.


Security is the host’s responsibility so the server will be resilient to attack. However:
  • A Denial of Service (DoS) attack on one clients website will affect yours. Hosts should react quickly but you should expect some downtime.
  • No host cannot prevent you using weak passwords or publicly publishing credentials!


Shared servers are one of the most cost effective hosting options. In essence, the cost a dedicated server is split between multiple clients. Prices are typically a few dollars per month and rarely rise. Some hosts even offer free shared space in exchange for advertising on your site.

Who Should Choose a Shared Server?

Shared hosting is ideal for beginners or smaller sites with typical requirements and fewer than a couple of hundred visitors per day. It’s easy to shop around for a service which matches your requirements and most hosts provide easy (often free) migration services should you want to change provider. SiteGround is offering up to 65% off for SitePoint readers.

Frequently Asked Questions about Shared Server Hosting

What are the main differences between shared hosting and other types of hosting?

Shared hosting is a type of web hosting where multiple websites share the same server and its resources. This is different from dedicated hosting where a server is dedicated to a single website, and VPS hosting where a server is divided into virtual servers, each acting as a separate entity. Shared hosting is generally cheaper and easier to manage, but it may not offer the same level of performance and security as other types of hosting.

How does shared hosting affect website performance?

Shared hosting can affect website performance in several ways. Since multiple websites share the same server resources, if one website experiences a surge in traffic, it can slow down the performance of other websites on the same server. However, most shared hosting providers have measures in place to prevent this from happening.

Is shared hosting suitable for all types of websites?

Shared hosting is generally suitable for small to medium-sized websites that do not require a lot of server resources. It is a cost-effective solution for personal blogs, small businesses, and startups. However, for larger websites with high traffic, a more robust hosting solution like VPS or dedicated hosting may be more appropriate.

What are the security risks associated with shared hosting?

Shared hosting can pose certain security risks. Since multiple websites share the same server, if one website gets infected with malware, it can potentially spread to other websites on the same server. However, most shared hosting providers have security measures in place to prevent this from happening.

How can I ensure my website performs well on a shared server?

To ensure your website performs well on a shared server, it’s important to optimize your website for speed and efficiency. This includes using a lightweight theme, optimizing images, minimizing the use of plugins, and implementing caching.

Can I upgrade from shared hosting to a more robust hosting solution?

Yes, most hosting providers offer the flexibility to upgrade from shared hosting to a more robust hosting solution like VPS or dedicated hosting as your website grows and requires more resources.

What is the level of technical knowledge required to manage a shared hosting account?

Shared hosting is generally user-friendly and does not require a high level of technical knowledge. Most shared hosting providers offer a control panel like cPanel, which makes it easy to manage your website, email, and other hosting features.

How does shared hosting impact SEO?

Shared hosting can potentially impact SEO if your website’s performance is affected due to sharing server resources with other websites. Slow website speed and downtime can negatively impact your website’s search engine rankings. However, with a reliable shared hosting provider, these issues can be minimized.

What kind of customer support can I expect with shared hosting?

Most shared hosting providers offer 24/7 customer support via phone, email, or live chat. They can assist with issues related to your hosting account, including technical issues, billing inquiries, and more.

What factors should I consider when choosing a shared hosting provider?

When choosing a shared hosting provider, consider factors such as the provider’s reputation, the level of customer support offered, the hosting features included in the plan, the provider’s uptime guarantee, and the price.

Craig BucklerCraig Buckler
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Craig is a freelance UK web consultant who built his first page for IE2.0 in 1995. Since that time he's been advocating standards, accessibility, and best-practice HTML5 techniques. He's created enterprise specifications, websites and online applications for companies and organisations including the UK Parliament, the European Parliament, the Department of Energy & Climate Change, Microsoft, and more. He's written more than 1,000 articles for SitePoint and you can find him @craigbuckler.

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