27 Feb

Two sides of owning a shared server

Say that you want a cost effective solution for a decently powerful server but don’t necessarily have the capital to invest in them on a periodic basis, you would be normally out of luck because dedicated bare metal servers do seem to cost quite a bit more. And while we’re on it, affordable dedicated servers don’t necessarily come equipped with top of the line hardware to facilitate moderate to heavy workloads. So then if you wanted fast hardware with low costs, why not buy shared web hosting instead?

A majority of the people will tell you otherwise but the fact of the matter is, the way hardware has evolved as of now, it is quite capable of running two or more websites off a single rack without getting any significant performance hits. In this short post, I’ll quickly explain what are the upsides and downsides to using a shared server. So let’s start with the former:

Advantages:

  1. Cheap:

    Yes shared servers are cheap but still pack a significant punch. Even for base level shared servers, you get some decent specifications that should in theory be faster than affordable servers.

  2. Availability:

    Since most people use shared servers for a short period of time, they are readily available. You can easily get a decently specified shared server for a fraction of the price of what you would pay for a dedicated server of the same calibre.

  3. Maintenance:

    As with dedicated servers, you get round the clock maintenance for hardware. But in addition, you also get maintenance for your part of the server as the controls for the server lie in the hands of a dedicated web master who works round the clock to make sure nothing clashes.

But as you might expect there are significant downsides to owning an affordable shared hosting service, and here they are:

  1. Security:

    Perhaps the biggest concern for any shared server web admin. Any security flaw in the network affects the entirety of websites hosted in a shared server. And even though you aren’t technically disclosed as to who you may be sharing the server with but if the person in question is a bit “unethical” in his practice, your data is always at a risk to being manipulated.

  2. Downtime:

    Since you are sharing resources with another user, no matter how powerful the hardware maybe, there will always come a time when it reaches its threshold as to how much traffic it can actually handle. So if the other site is using up a lot of bandwidth and CPU power, your site responsiveness can go down significantly.

  3. Customisations:

    The amount of customisations that you can perform on a shared server has significantly increased over the years. But they are still no match for a dedicated bare metal server and since all customisations are done by a web master, you don’t exactly have the total freedom to play around in this regard.

The moral of the story is that it is unadvisable to be on a shred server for extended periods of time as it can negatively affect the total productivity of the business in the long run. However, if your website is used for handling light traffic, then it actually makes more sense to get a shared server, since you won’t need too many resources.

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