It is a truth universally acknowledged that the cheapest option is rarely, if ever, the best option. I would even go as far as saying that the cheapest option is unlikely to even pass the threshold of being merely good. For example, carbonated beverages and junk foods are typically one of the more economical options when it comes to a full meal and while I don’t deny that they can be fulfilling when you’re in a pinch, they’re not exactly what I would call nutritious. I do indulge in junk food from time to time, usually when I’m strapped for cash, but I make it a point to avoid them whenever possible.
You can apply this axiom to life in general and nine times out of then, it’s still going to hold up. I’m not exactly saying that the money you’re spending is always proportional to what you’re going to get but there’s definitely a correlation there and this can also be seen in the world of web development. When trying to determine which web hosting services you should pick for your business’ website, the term shared hosting is definitely going to pop up often. As the most economical option available for web hosting, you’re going to have to properly take shared hosting under consideration but as I’ve pointed out, there are also plenty of reasons why you shouldn’t.
Digital co-living with shared hosting
Those inside the industry tend to think of shared hosting as living in an apartment but that’s too generous of an assessment as in an apartment building, you at least have some personal space reserved for your use only, however limited. No, the more accurate description of shared hosting would be like living in a 4-bed room commonly seen in backpacker hostels. Sure, technically, your bed is your own but pretty much everything else is fair game so if one of your roommates decided to take up the annoying art of manspreading (apologies to men beforehand) and snoring within the vicinity then I’m sorry to say but you’re just going to have to deal with it.
In shared hosting, multiple websites are hosted in a single server and the resource of that server is divided among the websites hosted on that server. The server’s bandwidth, space, computing resource, the maintenance costs, etc are all shared among the tenants. Unlike in VPS (virtual private server) hosting however, where the server is at least digitally partitioned to ensure that each website is isolated from the others, there are no such divisions in a shared hosting plan. This lack of technological complexity is what makes shared hosting cheap but would also lead to several complications you might want to be aware of before committing to a shared hosting plan.
Lack of customization
The very first thing that’s going to come to mind with shared hosting plan is that you have very limited control over the actual server your website is hosted on. In a VPS hosting plan, even if you’re technically sharing server space with other websites/customers, you have complete free rein over the space you’ve been allocated. You’re free to choose your own operating system among other customization options for example, which can be quite useful if you consider yourself to be the more technological-minded. In a shared hosting plan, you’re merely allowed to use the resource provided by the server in lieu of the server itself and that can be quite limiting.
Lack of security
The biggest and most primary concern of course is the lack of security. If your apartment building is the site of a break in, chances are only one of the tenants has to suffer from the fallout but if a 4-bed dorm room gets broken into, every tenant staying in that room suffers equally. In a shared hosting plan, if just one website gets infected by a malware or is the victim of a data breach, there’s a high probability that every website hosted on that server is going to have to suffer from the consequences. In essence, a chain is quite literally only as strong as its weakest link.
It would invariably be inconvenient if you’ve worked hard to make sure your website is as secure as possible only for your lousy neighbor to ruin it with their lack of an SSL certificate. Also keep in mind that since the physical server is still mostly controlled and maintained by the web host, you’re going to be extremely reliant on them to keep your website safe and that’s not a good thing as businesses have to be as self-sufficient as possible. Given how ubiquitous ransomware, malware and data breaches are these days, shared hosting plan’s lack of security is pretty much a dealbreaker.
Lack of compartmentalization
Other than ransomware, malware and data breaches, one other threat modern websites have to watch out for is a denial of service (DoS) attack. Essentially, a DoS attack is a situation in which a website is excessively flooded with superfluous requests in order to overload the system and prevent genuine user requests from being fulfilled. DoS attacks can be quite simple to execute and is capable of taking even the biggest of websites with even Wikipedia playing the victim once. In a shared hosting plan, since you’re sharing a common space with other websites, a DoS attack to even one website would be capable of bringing the entire service down.
Lack of customer support
I’ve been on the other side so trust me when I say that while you’re guaranteed some measure of customer support for your website, you’re just going to be treated as another number compared to if you’re on a VPS or dedicated hosting plan. Because the number of customers on a shared hosting plan is considerably higher than other plans, it’s quite likely that you’re going to have to open a support ticket first and be greeted with generic questions and responses even if your problem is actually pretty unique. Depending on your luck, you might have to wait for several days before getting a respond which can get pretty annoying if your website was rendered suddenly and completely inaccessible.