08 August 2019

What is Shared Web Hosting?

A shared web hosting service is where one physical web server connected to the Internet, hosts many websites. This sort of hosting is arguably the most affordable hosting service available to website owners. Its cost is low because the expenses of running and maintaining the server is spread out among all the clients being hosted on a single server.

How Shared Web Hosting works

A shared hosting service usually has a system administrator because the resources on the server are shared among many hosted sites. This can be beneficial to a client who has no idea how to deal with matters a system administrator can effectively handle. But at the same time, this takes away a lot of control from clients who have the skill and want more administrative control.

Shared hosting is less beneficial for clients who would like more access than the service provider can deliver. But on the other hand, a shared web hosting service is much more affordable than other web hosting options, especially dedicated server hosting.

There are usually usage limits attached to Shared web hosting, but the service provides basic features such as; email and web mail services, web statistics support, updated PHP and MySQL, auto script installations, as well as technical support. There’s also access to a web-based control panel system. Examples of such control panel systems include; DirectAdmin, Plesk, cPanel, InterWorx, H-Sphere, and so on. But more advanced hosting companies provide their own unique control panel.

The provider of a shared hosting service is normally responsible for installing server software, managing servers, installing security updates, providing technical support, and generally ensuring clients are catered for. A typical server is based on an operating system (OS) from Linux and LAMP. Certain providers prefer offering a Windows-based OS from Microsoft or a FreeBSD-based solution.

Currently, thousands of shared hosting service companies are available in the United States and in the UK. These service providers can either be large multimillion-dollar companies that have been in business for years and have a huge customer base or small upcoming companies with specialised services.

Shared web hosting can also be provided in the form Cooperative hosting. This is done privately and is implemented by sharing server running and maintenance costs in a colocation centre.

How shared hosting is utilised

Any of the two following ways can be used to implement shared web hosting; Name-based and IP-based. But some control panels allow users to access a combination of both IP-based and name-based on a single server.

IP-based

This is also referred to as Dedicated IP hosting. This is because every virtual host has its own unique IP address. The server has a configuration which allows for multiple virtual network interfaces or multiple physical network interfaces on the same physical interface. The software of the webserver makes use of the IP address that the client connects to with the aim of determining which website to show a user. But because of IPv4 address exhaustion, the generation of new IP addresses is gradually becoming an issue.

Name-based

Shared IP hosting is another name for Name-Based virtual hosting. In this form of service, the virtual host can provide services to multiple hostnames via a single IP address on a single machine. This can occur by a web browser requesting for a resource from a webserver by utilising HTTP/1.1. The requested hostname will make up part of the request. This information is used by the server to determine the correct website to show a user.

How DNS and Name Servers relate

Domain Name System (DNS) operates in a manner that is similar to a huge telephone directory by operating as the master database that associates a domain name with the correct IP number. Simply put, an IP is like a phone number, when a phone number/website is called, the ISP goes through the DNS server to figure out how to contact the appropriate website. The Domain Name System will respond by providing the right IP address.

Disadvantages of shared web hosting

In a scenario where the configuration of a file permission is improperly done, this can lead to that file being accessible by other users. This is a breach in security that can lead to a system-wide access to the files in question.

When there is a lot of web traffic going through a server either from one or multiple clients’ website, it can lead to poor system performance. This poor system performance can be witnessed as slow website loading speeds or incessant downtime.

Because there’s sharing of resources, this can lead to the same resource being spread too thin among various clients.

Sometimes, there might be poor server maintenance on the part of the service provider and this can lead to frequent downtimes.

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