Shared hosting vs dedicated hosting: Detailed review, pros & cons - Plesk

Shared Hosting vs Dedicated Hosting: Which is Best?

In the web host universe you have to pick from servers exclusive to your own use, or the shared use of a server – indeed called a shared server. Choosing between the two is more complicated than just considering cost. Because there are more factors involved when making the choice between shared hosting vs dedicated hosting. Let’s have a look.

Introducing Shared and Dedicated Servers

Here’s an outline of the two different models. On the one hand, with a dedicated or exclusive server, you have the entire machine fully under your operational command. And so, you determine how to manage and maintain it. No other web apps will compete for hosting resources because it’s only your applications running on the machine.

Comparatively, shared web hosts mix your web applications with other users. So you don’t fully-control server operations, unless you have a provider who offers tweaking abilities. So, when comparing shared server vs dedicated hosting, know that shared servers always imply restrictions. However, shared machines can also be more cost-effective.

Management & Configuration – Shared or Dedicated server?

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Dedicated Hosting gives full control

One of the main deciding points is control. When the machine is dedicated, it is fully-exclusive to your web apps. Hence, as a result, you have complete configuration and maintenance command over the machine. So you can set various parameters, like server power usage and distribution, and the HDD space available to an application.

If your app is one of many which needs highly-customized server configurations, then an exclusive server is your only option. Because it’s the only way you’ll get root access that allows you to change server variables end-to-end. On the flip-side, exclusive servers do imply that you’re responsible for all upkeep and smooth-running of the machine. This includes installing patches and running updates when necessary.

However, dedicated server resellers can offer a helping hand by offering full management of all dedicated server requirements. There are also middle tiers of management, including semi-managed servers where the host does some of the work for you. The host-manager options make the shared hosting vs dedicated hosting decision a bit easier, unless you’re keen on doing server management yourself.

What about Mixed-use Hosting?

On the flip-side, with mixed-use hosting you share with other users, and you won’t need to fulfill any management duties. This is because it is the host who manages it. So when deciding on shared server vs dedicated server, mixed-use servers are going to be in the lead in terms of price. Partly because you don’t need to do any management, or assign managements services externally.

You can customize and change mixed hosting machines to a  certain extent. For example, you can load CMS, like WordPress or Joomla, and directly access the server’s file content and directories. Most shared hosts also let you configure MySQL and inboxes, plus give some access to server logging. However, forget about full root access and absolute control over resources.

Growth and Scaling – Why Shared isn’t best

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Every business must plan for growth or the occasional downturn. Scaling your IT infrastructure along with this growth is important, but it can be costly to scale. Scalability is, therefore, a big factor when picking between shared vs dedicated servers. We can hence verify that with an exclusive server, you have more growth opportunity.

You can increase your storage space, the available size of the internet pipe and the CPU capacity power. Ultimately, you can process more transactions and handle more website visitors with a dedicated server. Especially if you’re running SaaS applications where you need to serve complex applications to many clients. If your server solution is scalable, it can prevent downtime that occurs from hitting capacity limits.

Shared hosting doesn’t provide the same scalability

Yes, you can increase certain elements of your shared-use server, including HDD space and the size of individual databases. You also get an unlimited number of email accounts on the one hand while some web hosts will even offer unlimited internet. But any shared server vs dedicated server comparison will quickly show up the scaling restrictions of shared-use hosting.

You can’t upgrade the CPU power of a shared-use hosting solution and you won’t be able to increase the amount of RAM in use. For complex applications, this would quickly pose a problem. But simple websites should cope well on shared hosting solutions. Just beware of cheap shared hosting solutions that pool hundreds of thousands of websites on a single machine.

When Considering Server Performance…

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Managing performance on a dedicated server is a lot easier. But again – it goes back to control. Because you can control how much CPU resources you allocate and you can decide whether you opt for SSD drives over HDD drives. You’re also free to choose OS on an exclusive-use machine, whether it’s Windows, or Linux distributions like CentOS or Debian.

Unfortunately, with shared-use hosting, you are very restricted. Yes, your hosting provider can promise 99.9% uptime, but no web host will allow you to use an unlimited amount of resources. At some point, you will hit a performance cap and your website will fail. Always ask what workload a shared-use hosting account can cope with before you sign up, especially if you are running a website with a lot of visitors.

Redundancy & Security – Perks of Dedicated

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When comparing shared vs dedicated servers, consider that having a dedicated server prevents others causing server security gaps. Since you’re the one managing your server, you can ensure security is airtight and reliable. This includes managing a RAID array – ensuring your data storage is safe and unaffected by potential HDD crashes. And also, fine-tuning your DDoS protection according to your app parameters. No need to leave hundreds of access ports open “just in case”.

On the other hand, shared servers can be huge security risks due to other users’ failures when sharing the machine. If a security hole in one application leads to a server overload, you may find your website failing too. Nonetheless, most simple company websites work well on shared hosting, so long as their chosen host manages security well. It’s also worth noting that being on shared hosting means the provider implements security controls. Plus, you may also benefit from instant roll-backs if your website runs into an issue.

Costs of a Shared vs Dedicated server

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Now for the big Cost factor – The turning point for many companies considering shared server vs dedicated server hosting. Exclusive servers cost more. And we’re not talking 10-15% more – Dedicated hosting prices are up to 20 times more expensive than shared hosting. However, you may find it worth the price if you plan on running intensive website applications.

Alternatively, you can get shared hosting for a very low price. In fact, $10 or less will get you a month of shared hosting, which works fine for a basic website. At the same time, your cheap shared hosting account will be beginner friendly and much easier to manage than a dedicated server.

Shared vs Dedicated Hosting – The Pros & Cons

Here’s when you should choose shared hosting over dedicated hosting:

  • You need an affordable, beginner-friendly solution
  • Fast and easy setup is important
  • You want to avoid hardware maintenance
  • Tools for easy site-building are important
  • Your hosting choice depends on cost

Skip shared hosting altogether if:

  • You need full, server-level control
  • Site uptime is really important
  • Your application will use tons of bandwidth

Buy a dedicated hosting solution if:

  • Full control of server resources and setup is important
  • You need root-level access to a server
  • You’re hosting a growing app that needs to scale
  • Security is paramount
  • Managed hosting support is essential

Don’t buy dedicated hosting if:

  • Costs are a key factor
  • You can’t manage a machine and can’t afford managed services
  • You have no in-house IT staff

Choosing the right hosting solution won’t be simple. However, we’ve outlined the pros and cons of shared vs dedicated hosting in hopes of simplifying your choice. Nonetheless, you should always consult with your hosting provider if you’re still unsure.

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Elvis Plesky
Our fun and curious team mascot's always plugged into the latest trends. He's here to share his knowledge and help you solve your tech problems.

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