12 Crucial Differences between Dedicated and Shared Hosting Services

By: Amy Armitage

There are many individualized ways of approaching hosting, but there are basically just two different kinds of website hosting available to individuals and businesses, shared or dedicated. Dedicated hosting plans, also called “managed plans” by some firms, are simply those hosting plans that are personally managed in a “hands on” manner by hosting company support staff. Shared service means that your site is “sharing” disk space with other firms, and all the oversight and control is yours.

Although the site owners will always maintain a degree of control, and the ultimate choice of companies, with dedicated hosting the hosting firm is relieving them of the responsibilities they would normally have to perform. There are a number of benefits that make each type of hosting a good option for both individuals and businesses, although there are some crucial differences. Here are a dozen.

1. Power, real and virtual – Site owners with dedicated hosting accounts can expect faster and more efficient connections since the word “dedicated” refers to the fact that their site is hosted on its own “dedicated” server. Instead of sharing both space and bandwidth with other clients, site owners will have their own, 100%-dedicated server working on their behalf.

2. Support levels – Dedicated hosting accounts provide a superior, additional level of support beyond that available to a shared plan holder. Hosting companies offer hands-on specialists with high-tech expertise to administer the website.

3. Cost-effectiveness – Depending on various factors, web hosting of both kinds can be cost-effective. The higher level of administration offered by dedicated plans can free up valuable time for clients and their employees, which offers imputed savings in wages and better use of employee time. On the other hand, smaller and simpler sites may not need such administrative support, so cost-effectiveness may be possible with shared plans, as well.

4. Security concerns – Dedicated web hosting plans typically offer additional security measures, in addition to the security that is inherent in support staff staying on top of the operations in general. For shared account plans, there are fewer resources available for disaster recovery, troubleshooting, data backup and so forth. Businesses that are financially dependent on their website being up and running at all times certainly benefit from dedicated hosting that protects their data.

5. Support levels – It is the dedicated website hosting plan that will manage, measure and monitor performance for a client on a 24/7/365 basis. These additional support services include monitoring and managing the network and all of the client’s equipment. In addition, support staff will proactively contact the dedicated hosting client with problems or concerns. Shared hosting plans cannot possibly add these services without raising costs substantially, and effectively evolving into a dedicated plan, at any rate.

6. The equipment – Equipment used by hosting companies for dedicated web hosting clients will usually have a serious advantage over what the shared hosting clients get. Dedicated web hosting, by definition, involves the use of dedicated servers, and at the higher price point clients can expect newer, more powerful and better-maintained equipment. Again, if a site is not mission-critical in a company’s business plan, shared plans with their more modest components may do the job well enough.

7. Downtime – Some clients try to host their own sites on their own in-house servers, but often experience a great deal of down time. Using a dedicated server managed by a top hosting company normally translates into a great reduction in downtime. The reason is simple, namely, someone is always monitoring the site, all the time.

8. Feature sets – All web hosting plans offer various types and kinds of features and benefits, but the amount of hosting space, bandwidth allowance, free tools, scripts and support levels offered in dedicated hosting plans are much greater than with shared plans. All companies have different needs for their sites, and if yours are simple and uncomplicated, you may do fine with shared hosting. Make sure you know the feature set that you really need.

9. Company focus – Dedicated hosting plans are time-savers for many firms, as these managed plans reduce (even eliminate) the need for a firm to do any administration. If the hosting company is handling the bulk of the administration duties, clients can spend their time growing their businesses and fret a whole lot less about their websites.

10. Contact - With a dedicated hosting plan, you are in the “top tier” of your hosting company’s customer list. You should never have even a moment of trouble reaching support staff – by email, phone, chat, whatever – whenever you need their help. You will not have to wait on replies to a web form, or waste time in a phone queue. Customers on dedicated plans can call directly and get help ASAP.

11. Overall value – If you have a good accountant, he can probably crunch the numbers to show you what the best approach for your firm is, shared or dedicated. There are many factors to consider (more than a dozen, truth be told) and the calculations can get somewhat fuzzy at times. However, time is money, and money most certainly is money, so you need to determine what the overall value is to each option.

12. Overall cost – In conjunction with #11 above, you need to determine not just value, but actual cost. The cost of having a low-priced shared plan includes all the time and energy you and your employees have to invest in site maintenance and upkeep, and your particular circumstances will determine how these calculations pan out. Dedicated hosting is usually priced with these considerations in mind, but do your own math.

There is a lot to the decision, and no one can tell you what is best for your business because no one knows it as well as you do. All reputable hosting companies will work with you to pinpoint the pros and cons of each approach, but in the final analysis the choice is yours. Get good information, specific advice and expert help to make the right decision.

You might consider going month-to-month instead of paying for an annual plan at first, so that you can make changes if you see that your first choice was wrong. Stay focused, pay attention and learn as much as you can about each hosting company and plan. This is the way that you can ensure having the right hosting plan in place, and in short order.

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Amy Armitage is the head of Business Development for Lunarpages. Lunarpages provides quality web hosting from their US-based hosting facility. They offer a wide-range of services from dedicated server hosting and managed solutions to shared and reseller hosting plans.

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