Many company owners get confused by the terminology of shared or dedicated web hosting. There is a vast difference between the two and the one that is right for your business will depend on a variety of factors. These can include the size of your business, your level of IT expertise and also your budget. When trying to figure out which option is best for your business, it is helpful to understand the fundamental differences between the two.

Bandwidth and Disk Space Resources

This is essentially what defines shared or dedicated hosting. A dedicated server will have disk space that that is solely allocated to your company website. You will not be sharing bandwidth with other websites or businesses. Shared hosting was introduced for small and medium-sized businesses that do not require extensive bandwidth or disk space resources. Several websites are hosted on the same server and share the resources of that server.

Cost Considerations

The reason shared hosting was introduced was to be able to offer a more affordable hosting solution to smaller companies. By allocating the disk space resources to several websites, each website pays a reduced rate for their disk space. Companies that opt for shared hosting may do this because of cost considerations. The additional administration and support offered by these plans can often free up staff to handle other tasks. When considering the costs of salaries and training staff, shared hosting may well prove to be the most cost-effective solution.

Security Concerns

When sharing a server, you cannot guarantee that the other companies on the server are as vigilant about their website security. Their lax approach to security could leave your site vulnerable to viruses and hackers. There is also generally less support in terms of server backups and there are often lower levels of security on shared servers. Dedicated servers offer companies the highest levels of security. Because you are the only website, you can set your security levels and benefit from server back-ups and disaster recovery.

Control of Your Website and Server

On a dedicated server, you have complete control over your website. This means that there are fewer design and software limitations and far less security concerns. On a shared server, you may be limited in the scripts that you can use. You will also need to conform to the allocated disk space and may need to use a specific type of software for your website design.

Levels of Support Provided

This depends on the type of shared or dedicated plan you choose. In general, because they are simpler sites, shared servers offer just a basic level of support. Dedicated server packages offer often higher levels of technical support and expertise.

Help Desk Accessibility

A good hosting provider should have 24/7 support availability regardless of what type of package you are on. However, most often this service is only available to dedicated server clients. The reason for this is that a dedicated server requires constant monitoring and management of the network.

IT Expertise Required

In general, firms that choose dedicated servers will have their own IT departments that manage the system. They will often work closely with the hosting provider and may even hand over the responsibility of some tasks to the hosting provider. Dedicated servers generally require higher levels of expertise to manage. Shared servers are generally maintained by the hosting provider but individual website maintenance is the responsibility of the website owner.

Server Down Time

The last thing you want is for your server to be down for any length of time. Generally, this is the responsibility of the hosting provider. If you have a dedicated server, there is less likelihood of your website experiencing downtime. On a shared server, other websites may block the bandwidth by using more than their allocation of space and the result can be that customers cannot access your site.

Hardware Requirements

The hardware requirements are extensive for servers and generally the clients that get the benefits of the latest technology are those that are on dedicated server packages. Typically, because the technical requirements for smaller shared websites are less, these servers will not get the same level of technological attention by hosting companies.

Different Feature Sets

With websites becoming major marketing tools, hosting companies are offering added features and tools to make websites more efficient. Some of these sets may only be offered on dedicated hosting packages while others are packages specifically for shared servers.

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