Shared hosting services are ideal for those who want to create and deploy their own website, but don’t anticipate a lot of web traffic and don’t want to spend the extra money for a dedicated service. Therefore, those looking for a shared service should consider affordability as a major factor when researching a service provider.
But affordability isn’t the only factor you need to consider when choosing a shared web host. Here’s what you need to know.
Essential Shared Hosting Features
When researching shared hosting services, look for the following features:
- Storage and bandwidth: How much storage space and bandwidth do you need? Some providers offer unlimited or nearly unlimited amounts. This is important as your site scales.
- SSL certificates: Security is paramount. Make sure your provider offers free SSL certificates so you can keep your site and customers secure.
- Control panel: Look for a provider that offers a control panel where you can easily manage all of your websites, domains and email accounts. Often, this is via cPanel, one of the most popular control panels in the industry.
- Support: Does your host have 24/7 customer support? What is the average response time?
- Security: Make sure your host offers security features, such as SSL certificates and malware protection. The last thing you want is for a hacker to hijack your website without any recovery efforts in place.
- Backups: Ask your host provider how often they back up their servers and how easy it is to restore a website if needed.
- Extras: Does the provider offer any extras, such as free domain registration, email accounts or website-building tools? These are nice to have if you are setting up a site for the first time.
- Uninterrupted power supply (UPS): Does the hosting provider offer a UPS service? This ensures your website won’t be down due to a power outage.
- Uptime guarantee: A host that guarantees 99% uptime or higher is ideal.
The cost of a shared web host will almost always be lower than a virtual private server (VPS), dedicated or managed server. This is because you’re pooling resources with other website owners, so the cost is lower for everyone. You can expect to pay less than $5 USD ($6.68 CAD) per month if committing to a contract, such as 36 months, though your renewal rate will almost always increase. It’s not unheard of for it to double or triple upon renewal.
However, it’s important to factor in the other costs associated with shared hosting, such as SSL certificates, domain names and storage space. The total cost will depend on the features and services you need, so add up these costs before signing up for a contract. Some offer many of these extras for free while others don’t.
A popular tactic is to offer the first year free and charge for renewal. This also applies to introductory rates notorious for auto-renewing at a higher rate than the original offer. Be sure to read the fine print so you know what you’re getting into.
Ease of Use
Shared hosting services are typically user-friendly and easy to use. Most provide a control panel where you can manage your site, email accounts and other elements of your website. This makes setting up a site and maintaining it easier than ever.
Some shared hosts offer free website migration, which is often one of the most difficult parts of working with a new host. The process often requires a little more technical knowledge, but if a host offers it for free, it can be a huge timesaver.
Shared hosting services are scalable, meaning you can upgrade to a larger plan as your website grows. Look for providers that make it easy to upgrade your plan with just a few clicks. Similarly, if you scale your site down, you should be able to downgrade your plan without any hassles.