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Shared vs. Dedicated Web Hosting

Before you can understand shared vs. dedicated web hosting you must know what web hosting is.  This article helps define web hosting, shared web hosting, and dedicated web hosting.  Keep reading to learn the difference and compare shared and dedicated servers.

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Some of the most important decisions you make for your business include decisions that you make about the online set-up of your Web site. Indeed, your business Web site is an important part of finding potential customers and widening your reach. You want a Web site that will serve the needs of clients and potential clients, as well as one that is reliable and of high quality. When considering setting up a Web site, it is a good idea to look at the merits of shared vs. dedicated Web hosting.

What is Web hosting?

First of all, it is a good idea to understand what Web hosting is. All Web pages on the Internet are stored on special computers known as servers. These servers are connected to the Internet, and have no actually monitor. They are simple storage spaces for the information that makes up Web sites. In order for people to find your business Web site, it has to be stored on a server somewhere. While you can build your own server, many people find that these are expensive and can be difficult to maintain. Instead, most companies rent their server space from someone who owns many servers.

Someone who owns a server (or many servers) and then rents the space out to others is called a Web host. This is because he or she hosts your Web site on his or her server. This is a fairly easy and inexpensive way to get some space for an address on the Web. There are different types of Web hosting, however. These are usually divided up into two main categories:

  1. Shared Web hosting
  2. Dedicated Web hosting

Shared Web hosting

With shared Web hosting, your business Web site is located on a server with other Web sites. The Web host divvies up the space available on a server amongst a number of other Web sites. Your site is just one of many sites on the server. If you are getting free Web hosting, there might be hundreds - or even thousands - of Web sites being hosted together. Usually, when you get free hosting, your Web host makes money by placing third-party ads on your Web site. This looks unprofessional and can be a problem. Additionally, free Web hosting normally comes with poor service and more down time, since there are so many sites vying for the same resources. A few sites overusing their bandwidth can send the whole server crashing down - bringing your business Web site with it.

But there are other types of shared Web hosting as well. Some Web hosts make larger divisions, providing each Web site with more space and bandwidth. But you will have to pay for it. Most of the time, though, shared Web hosting like this is still fairly inexpensive. You can usually pay between $5 and $200 a month for shared hosting packages, depending on what you want. Shared hosting can include ecommerce Web sites, and the ability to use more space and bandwidth.

For most small to medium sized businesses, paid shared Web hosting is a good solution.

Dedicated Web hosting

Dedicated Web hosting is when you get a large portion of a server dedicated to your use. This may be a quarter of the server, half the server, or even the entire server. As you might guess, dedicated hosting can get quite expensive. However, with dedicated hosting you normally get better service and increased reliability and stability. With fewer Web sites competing for resources on the server, you are more likely to present faster times when customers download, as well as more up time.

Dedicated servers also provide scalability. It is usually possible to easily ramp up a Web site on a dedicated server because you have more space. This can be helpful if your company is growing rapidly and you expect to expand into a range of services for customers. Large companies that are growing quickly, or that want to take up a lot of space with interactive media, forums and a great deal of audio, video and images, might consider dedicated Web hosting.

Shared vs. dedicated Web hosting: The bottom line

The bottom line is that you need to consider the needs of your company. For most businesses, a shared server with ecommerce capability, and some degree of paid service is usually sufficient. However, large corporations or companies that are expanding fast (or that want to sell their own server space) might consider some sort of dedicated server arrangement.

Related Article: Dedicated Server Hosting >>

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