To build and grow a successful blog you need reliable web hosting it’s the backbone of your online business.
When it comes to hosting there are different types of solutions – Dedicated, VPS, Cloud and Shared hosting are the most common – each caters to websites of differing sizes and traffic levels.
As you are just starting your blogging journey, “Shared Hosting” will best suit your needs. It’s the jump-off point solution for new blogs and small business websites.
However, not all shared hosting is equal; hosting performance differs from provider to provider (and there are lots of providers) so too do the resources and features included in price plan packages.
Given all the choice and options, it can be difficult to know what to look for.
But, don't worry. In this post, you will learn everything you need to know about shared hosting so that you can make an informed decision when choosing a web host provider and a price plan package.
Shared hosting as the name suggests is when a website shares a hosting server with multiple sites. Potentially, hundreds of sites can share the same server. It’s kind of like renting a room in a massive house, where everyone uses communal facilities.
Because so many sites share the same server there are limits to resources that each website site can use; this is one of the major drawbacks of shared solutions (more on this later). But, the advantages outweigh the disadvantages – for four main reasons.
Price – Shared-hosting packages can cost as little $5.99 per month. Hosting solutions like Dedicated, VPS and Cloud hosting can cost upwards of $100 per month. For those just starting out and with limited budgets shared hosting is a no-brainer.
It is enough – If you have a blog with up to 5k visitors per day, which doesn’t use massive amounts of media – images, videos, live streaming – shared hosting is enough to meet your needs.
Fully Managed – With shared hosting, you don’t have to worry about server maintenance. The provider looks after all the back-end server admin. At no extra cost to you!
Beginner Friendly – Shared packages are ready-to-go straight out of the box, there is no need to install scripts, software or operating systems. They also come with intuitive, user-friendly dashboards like Cpanel, enabling anyone to manage the hosting side of a website.
When choosing a web host, there are four key factors to consider.
Uptime – Uptime is the percentage of time that a server stays active and online, usually measured in 30-day periods. Servers go offline from time to time; they have scheduled maintenance, suffer outages, or have other unforeseen issues.
Unfortunately, when a server goes offline, so can your blog if it's hosted on it.
Most providers will guarantee Uptimes of 99.9% – to put this in perspective 99.9% means your site could be offline –
• Daily: 1m 26.4s,
• Weekly: 10m 4.8s,
• Monthly: 43m 49.7s,
• Yearly: 8h 45m 57.0s
100% Uptime while achievable is hard to maintain over extended periods. However, as a professional blogger, you will need consistent Uptime rates as close as possible to 100%.
When choosing a provider uptime consistency should be a key consideration. Remember, every minute your site offline you are losing potential sales and leads.
Page Load Times – Page load time is the speed at which a web page loads – this is an important metric from both a user and SEO perspective.
Google considers page load speed as ranking factor when determining where to position a page in search results, and users won’t hang around long waiting for a slow web page to load.
With shared hosting, load speeds can be slower when compared to other solutions such as Dedicated, VPS or Cloud hosting. However, some providers employ technologies and features that allow for faster loader speeds on shared servers.
Like uptime, page load speed should also be a key consideration when choosing a web host provider.
Security – Since you are sharing a server with unknown sites, that might not be using best practice security measures, there is a risk that a server might be hacked, putting your site at risk.
Some providers offer more robust security features than others, thus reducing the risk. You can also add add-ons such as software like Site Lock that further beefs up your website security.
Customer Care – No matter how good a web host is if they don’t provide excellent customer service, don’t use them.
Customer care is a fundamental component of web hosting. Things will go wrong, and when they do, you need responsive, knowledgeable service agents to deal with your issue and get it rectified.
Any web host worth its salt will provide email, live chat, and telephone support. It’s a good idea to test their response time and professionalism by contacting them with some questions before you commit.
Hosting providers usually have three tiers of shared price plans. Each tier offers different resources and features enabling you to upgrade hosting capabilities as your blog grows.
Below are some of the common hosting resources and features that you will come across in shared packages.
Additional Domains – Most 1st tier plans only allow you one website, whereas tier two and three plans enable you to build multiple sites.
Unlimited / Unmetered Disk space (Storage) – This is the amount of physical space that you have to store the files that make-up your blog – Images, HTML pages, Videos, audio files – emails also take-up disk space on the server.
Unlimited / Unmetered Bandwidth (Transfers) – This is the measurement of traffic V’s data transfers across the internet to an end-user. For example, if your blog contains a 1MB blog post which 3,000 visitors view, then you will use 3,000MB (3GB) of bandwidth.
SSL’s Certificates (Secure Socket Layer) – SSL Certificates protect sensitive details such as email addresses, usernames, passwords and credit card numbers by transmitting information through secured HTTPS instead of HTTP.
Having SSL secured blog (green padlock) not only adds trust and authority but it also helps with SEO. Google prefers websites sites to have SSL encryption and consider it a factor (although minor) in its ranking algorithm.
CDN’s (Content Distribution Networks) – CDN’s improve the speed of your blog, enabling visitors to access content faster.
With a CDN network, content uploaded to your blog is copied and stored (cached) across a global network of data centers. When a reader accesses your blog, the nearest data center delivers the content.
SSD’s (Solid State Drives) – Some providers, host websites using SSD’s. These types of hard drives are faster (delivering faster website speeds) than traditional hard disks.
Traditional hard drives are mechanical – an arm has to move across a spinning disk to read/write information. Whereas, solid-state drives have no moving parts they are similar in concept to a USB thumb drive and allow for near-instant retrieval of data.
Most of the features and resources mentioned above are usually available across all price packages – provider depending. However, when you opt for a top tier package (the highest-level shared plan) additional resources and capabilities are included such as enhanced security features, enhanced speed performance, fewer websites sharing servers, more disk space, and bandwidth.
At the start, when choosing a price plan package, opt for the second tier (middle plan) and then take it from there.
I mentioned at the start of this post that there are drawbacks to shared hosting. This is because each website on a shared server has a limited number of resources that it can use – known as fair usage.
If you exceed the limits of fair usage, your blog performance will suffer. It can slow down, or in some cases, a provider can suspend your hosting account.
Fair usage usually relates to disk space and bandwidth.
Many hosting providers advertise Unlimited or Unmetered bandwidth and disk space. However, this is not technically true. There are always limits, which are subject to the fair usage policy.
Most shared plans offer enough disk space to meet the needs of small to growing blogs. However, if you use a lot of media, then disk space will eventually become a problem.
Regarding bandwidth, again most shared plan will meet the needs of small to growing blogs. However, once you reach 5k daily visitors, you will probably outgrow the limits of most shared packages – even at the top tier.
As well as limits on disk space and bandwidth, another aspect of your hosting account that is subject to fair usage is CPU usage. Many things draw on CPU usage – increased traffic, programs, plugins, applications, and data transfers – anything that requires processing power. If you overuse CPU power, there may be restrictions placed on your hosting account.
Although, there are limits to the hosting power that shared hosting provides, for most, shared hosting will be a good fit.
Web Host Provider Recommendations
When it comes to shared hosting some of the more popular (most recognizable) providers that you will come across are Bluehost, SiteGround, Hostgator, and GoDaddy.
A2 Hosting – I changed to A2 Hosting a while back after been years with Hostgator. I have not regretted that decision! A2 are super-fast, provide reliable uptimes, and provide more hosting power as you upgrade plans enabling real scalability as your blog grows; they also have excellent customer support.
SiteGround – SiteGround is a top-rated hosting provider, they are fast (not as fast as A2), have reliable uptimes, and provide excellent customer support. They also have plans that offer real scalability. However, I have read some reviews from customers who had their blogs suspended for CPU usage.
To Wrap Up
Shared hosting is not a perfect hosting solution, but it will most certainly meet the needs of your blog at least in the early stages of growth and development.
The main things to look for from a hosting provider are uptime, page load speeds, scalability, security features and of course excellent customer care. If a web host ticks all the boxes in these areas, you should not have any problems.
Once your blog grows beyond the capabilities of Shared Hosting, you can then look at options like VPS managed hosting or maybe Cloud solutions.
I hope you found this post helpful if you have any comments or would like to share some of your hosting insights please do so in the comment section below.