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Shared hosting or dedicated hosting - which one to choose ?

This chapter compares shared hosting and dedicated hosting. Also, gives you an overview of which one to choose for your web site.

I personally have some interesting experience in this. I had several small web sites hosted as shared hosting with a leading hosting company called brinkster. When the sites started to grow, I decided to go for a dedicated server rather than shared web hosting. After lot of research, I hired a dedicated server with a web hosting company and moved all my web sites to the new dedicated server. I was expecting a boost in performance since the new dedicated server had only my websites.

Interestingly, the performance went down and sites became slower. After some communication the hosting company, I learnt that the shared hosting servers were dual Pentium 4 processors with several GB RAM. Also, they had a web farm setup. If one server goes down, still the other server can handle the requests.

The dedicated server I hired was an Intel Celeron processor with 256 MB RAM. And obviously it cannot perform as good as the shared server offereed by the hosting company! Also, whenever I go for vacation, my server will go down for some or other reason resulting in my sites being not accessible for several days.

The result was, I started paying 5-6 times fees compared to what I have been paying for a shared hosting account and got slower performing sites.

Finally I upgraded my dedicated server to powerful Pentium 4 machine with 2 GB memory. Also, I installed some software which will continuously monitor the web server and send me email if the server is not accessible. I made some settings in IIS so that it can re cycle the aspnet process automatically if it is not responsing or if the memeory usage exceeds some limit. This ensured me 99% uptime and my web sites are much faster now.

What to choose - dedicated or shared hosting ?

The decision depends on your needs. If you have sites that need lot of resources like disk space, memory etc, you will need a dedicated server. Also, if you need to run some custom tools or windows services, you will need to go for a dedicated server. When you hire a dedicated server with a hosting company, ensure that you are getting enough RAM and hard disk to accommodate future growth plans too.

If you are a beginner and want to try a small site first, start with a shared hosting plan.

Next Chapter: How to host multiple web sites under one shared hosting account?
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