Shared Versus Dedicated Web Hosting
Thomason, NetMechanic, Inc.
Monday, March 08, 2004; 5:00pm EST
Your Web hosting company can be your site's best friend or worst enemy
- depending on the level of service and responsiveness. A successful
Web site depends on a good Web host, but it's just as important to
select the right kind of hosting account.
Are you willing to share space on a server with other sites or do you
need a server of your own? Know the answer before you start shopping.
Unique And Shared Addresses
Every server connected to the Web has its own IP address. The IP
address uniquely identifies that server much like a membership number
or driver's license number identifies a particular individual. IP
addresses are also tied to domain names. This relationship means that
Web users can either enter a domain name or an IP address in a Web
browser to access the information on a Web server.
The basic difference between Web hosting accounts is whether a site
has its own server or shares one with other Web sites. That
arrangement determines whether the site has its own IP address or
shares one with other sites.
Most small to medium-sized sites use a type of hosting called "virtual
hosting" where a number of Web sites reside on the same server.
Because the sites share a server, they also share an IP address.
Large and/or busy sites usually can't share server space because the
volume of Web traffic from many sites would quickly overwhelm the
server. Those sites either operate their own servers or select a
"dedicated hosting" option from their Web host. Dedicated hosting
means that your site is the only site residing on the server and so
you aren't sharing an IP address with any other site.
Which type is best for you? Let's look at the good and bad points of
Share The Risk With Virtual Hosting
The best thing about virtual hosting is price: it's usually really
low. Depending on your site's technology, storage, and bandwidth
requirements, virtual hosting can cost anywhere from $3 to $20 per
month. It's even possible to get free hosting in return for displaying
ads from the hosting company or one of its partners on your site.
If price is your main concern, then virtual hosting may be right for
you. But make sure you're aware of potential problems:
neighborhood. Sharing an IP address with known spam sites or
adult sites raises a warning flag with search engines. Spam sites
try to trick search engines into giving them an underserved high
rank, so some search engines like AltaVista respond by banning the
entire IP address from their index.
Check your Web host's terms of service page to see what sites are
allowed on their servers. Also ask if they offer an individual IP
address for different sites on the same server. Some hosts do, but
make sure the IP address and domain name resolve correctly before
you start promoting the site.
response. A server receives requests for files and serves up
those files in the order the requests are received. It's like a line
at the bank: if you're second in line you get served pretty quickly
but it you're twelfth in line you'll wait much longer.
Ask your host how many sites reside on each server and how much
traffic those sites get. The sheer number of sites isn't the only
issue. Response time may be slower if you share space with 100 busy
sites than if you share a server with 250 sites that only get a few
hits per day.
Slow server response can hurt site promotion by frustrating
visitors. In extreme cases, pages may timeout and never load: not a
good idea if that happens when search engine spiders crawl by! Find
out the IP address of the server you'll share and use NetMechanic's
Server Check tool to monitor the server and verify its response
crashes. Most Web hosts strictly limit the type of CGI scripts
allowed on their servers, and with good reason! A poorly-written CGI
script can quickly run wild and consume most of the server's
resources, even crashing it.
Your site could be slowed or brought down entirely due to the action
of a neighboring site.
Don't get scared by
these concerns. The overwhelming number of Web sites use virtual
hosting and never experience any problems. You just don't want to be
the exception! Evaluate the host carefully before you sign up for an
Own Your Home With A Dedicated Server
Dedicated hosting costs more, but offers more features and benefits.
With dedicated hosting, you're the only site on the server and have
your own IP address. A dedicated IP address used to be a requirement
for SSL (secure sockets layer) encryption, but some hosting companies
now offer it as part of virtual hosting packages.
Because you have the server to yourself, dedicating hosting is more
expensive. It's like owning a home instead of renting an apartment.
Like any homeowner, your costs will be higher, but there are benefits
to the arrangement:
More control: You
don't have to worry about someone's bad script slowing or crashing
the server. You have only yourself to blame if that happens!
with high traffic loads. Because the server only responds to request
for information from your site, visitors won't have to wait in line
to view your Web pages and images.
Easier setups. It's
easier to set up the server to handle anonymous FTP and SSL
encryption if the server has a dedicated IP address. This isn't
impossible with virtual hosting, it is more difficult.
Many virtual hosts don't offer it or charge a premium if they do. If
the host offers SSL encryption with a virtual hosting account, make
sure they set it up for you!
penalty. Virtual hosting accounts usually offer a certain amount of
bandwidth per month to each site on the server. Sites that go over
their allotment get charged extra. But dedicated hosting generally
has no such restrictions because it's assumed you need a lot of
bandwidth if you require your own server.
Those are great
benefits, but they usually don't justify the extra cost for smaller
sites. Evaluate your needs and your financial resources before you
sign up for hosting and choose your host carefully.
Our checklist of Seven Questions To Ask Your Web Host" is a good place
About Source of Article
The author of this
article is Larisa Thomason, Senior Web Analyst with NetMechanic, Inc.
NetMechanic is an online service specializing in html code checking,
search engine optimization and web site maintenance and promotion. For
more information visit