Web Development

Moving From Shared to Dedicated Hosting: The Differences and Why They Matter

It’s easy to get caught up in SEO and social media and watch your site grow, but hosting your website is something that you should keep in the back of your mind. It’s not talked about too often and it’s certainly not as exciting as SEO or other marketing topics, but it’s an important aspect of website success. Most smaller websites can get by just fine with shared hosting and users will have a great experience, but this all changes as your site begins to grow.

If you’re finding that your site is growing and you haven’t even thought about your hosting options, you’re not alone. Moving from shared hosting to dedicated hosting isn’t difficult; it’s just something you want to prepare for. You have to ask yourself a few questions: How is dedicated hosting different than shared hosting, when is it time to move to dedicated hosting, and how can I get started without distracting my business?

The Difference Between Shared and Dedicated Hosting

For those who are unfamiliar, the term “hosting” when talking about websites refers to a service that lets a website connect to the Internet. Many small websites don’t realize what type of hosting they’re even working with because it’s just a natural thing that happens when you start a website. Popular hosting services include GoDaddy, iPage, HostGator, and Just Host. Most of these servers have a shared and a dedicated option.

Below explains the differences, in detail, between the two major types of website hosting:

Shared Hosting

A shared hosting web service means that many different websites are using that particular service in order to stay connected to the Internet. In other words, you’re sharing it (imagine that).

  • The pros: Each site that is sharing that hosting service will have it’s own place in the server so your site won’t mesh or run into another site. The great thing about shared hosting is that you share the overall cost of server maintenance, so it’s less expensive. It’s a great starting option for most websites.
  • The cons: The downside to shared hosting is that sharing a server means sharing resources. You don’t know what types of sites are sharing that server, so if a lot of spammy-type sites are sharing it with you, that entire server could get in trouble (even if you had nothing to do with it). This isn’t very common, but it can happen. You also have to realize that if all of the hundreds of sites sharing your server are taking up all of the resources the server has to offer, there could be some downtime that your users surely won’t appreciate.

Virtual Dedicated Hosting

The more expensive and more advanced option is virtual dedicated hosting, where you use what is call a virtual private server (VPS). Virtual dedicated hosting will still manage and control many different websites, so there is that shared feeling, but the difference is that you are allotted a specific amount of resources that only your site is allowed to use.

  • The pros: This means that you could be promised a certain amount of bandwidtch, GB of RAM, etc. that only you can use on the server. You also get your own IP address, so if you wanted to host more than one website on that IP address that will all use those same allotted resources (mainly if you own more than one website), you can do that.
  • The cons:  If you purchase a VPS package, you’re likely going to need to hire someone to manage your hosting so that things run smoothly (shared hosting has someone managing the server for you). The biggest downside is probably the cost. It’s not only a little bit more expensive, it’s about ten times more expensive.

There is also an option of full dedicated hosting. This means that you actually buy or lease a server from a hosting company and then manage the entire thing yourself. Everything is yours and you are free to upload whatever software you want. It should work incredibly well, but it’s by far the most expensive option (hundreds to thousands of dollars per month). This is an option only very big corporations typically want.

Making the switch from shared hosting to this option is almost identical to virtual dedicated hosting, so the below steps will work for whichever option you decide.

Making the Transition from Shared to Dedicated Hosting

The first and most major step in making this transition is setting up your new dedicated server:

  1. Find a platform you want to use. A few of the most popular include BlueHost, Inmotion, and Heart Internet. When working with any of these you have the same first step, which is to select the server you want and then click “order.”
  2. Wait for a page that will let you know when the server is installed in your site and ready to go. This is oftentimes called a “server status page.”
  3. Login to the install and accept the terms and conditions.
  4. There should then be a page that has a place where you can add a new account (sometimes under “account functions).

Once you’ve setup your new hosting account it’s ready to be used. This will involve moving files, moving your database, moving emails and updating your DNS, and then of course testing to make sure everything is correct. This will take a little bit of time, so for a more advanced look at how to make this all happen, visit State of Digital.

Have you had any problems when changing from shared to dedicated hosting? Do you have a story about waiting too long to make the switch? Let us know your thoughts in the comment section below.

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