If you’re a small business owner with a website, then that website is most likely hosted on what’s called shared web hosting. Here, we’ll explain what shared web hosting is and some of the risks associated with it.
What is Shared Web Hosting?
Behind the scenes all websites are simply a group?of files (such as images, page templates, blog posts, databases, etc). These files are combined to?display the layout and content of your website. All the files?are all stored on a server somewhere so when people surf the internet they can type in the URL and visit the site.
Shared hosting is very popular because it?s affordable and often is good enough for small websites with little?traffic. There are many hosting companies that offer shared hosting and, while we don?t directly recommend any one specifically, we’ve had good experience with HostGator. Prices of shared hosting run around $10 per month.
Shared Web Hosting as an Apartment Building
We?love the analogy comparing?shared hosting to an apartment building. Imagine you live in an apartment building with tens or even hundreds of neighbors. You all share the same building, elevator, maybe a parking garage, front building entrance, and so on.
Shared web hosting is similar in that your website (the files we mentioned earlier) resides on a web server together with tens or hundreds of other websites.?With shared web hosting, your website and all the other websites on it share that one server’s resources:?hard drive, memory, power supply, internet connection (that?s the main entrance in our?analogy).?Surprised? This is why it?s called shared web hosting.
Your website also shares the same IP address with all its neighbors. An IP address is a unique number that identifies the web server and looks something like this:?126.96.36.199. This number is like the street address of your apartment building.
Like in an apartment building, it?s very unlikely that you know all your website neighbors, what they do, and what kind of services they offer. And you?probably didn’t much care about what they were up to. But maybe you should be.
How Your Neighbors’ Behavior Can Affect You
Unfortunately, your neighbors’ illicit activities can affect you in the world of shared web hosting. If one or more websites on your server are engaged in illegal operations such as email spamming, then the IP address for the entire server?may be flagged and even blocked by outside services. This can prevent visitors from accessing your website or keep emails from being sent out of your website, even though your website had nothing to do with the illegal activities of your neighbors.
Want to learn more about your website neighbors? There?s an free online tool that shows you a list of all the websites that share a single IP address. Visit the site, enter your website address, and you’ll see a list of all your neighbors. It might even tell you if they’ve been flagged for illicit activities.
Now that you better understand how shared web hosting works and some of the risks involved, you are better prepared to keep an eye on your neighbors and, perhaps, make the decision to move into a server of your own if the situation calls for it.
While many small businesses successfully run their websites on shared web hosting, it’s always good to understand where you stand?so you can be prepared and aware when something goes wrong. We suggest that you pay attention to feedback from your visitors and use the above link to check on your neighbors every once in a while. If you see anything suspicious, you can ask your hosting provider to move to a different server, upgrade to a stand-alone server, or consider paying for a unique IP address.