July 16, 2012

Why Acumen advise against shared hosting

When Acumen undertake a project, we always quote to provide our customers with secure, reliable hosting. Generally, this is in the form of a VPS (Virtual Private Server), or depending on their load and purpose, a Dedicated Server.

The first thing that a few of customers notice is “I’ve seen hosting cheaper than this”. Which is true, but not all hosting is equal; ever since the birth of Name Based Virtual Hosting provided by the HTTP 1.1 standard in 1999, shared hosts began springing up to capitalise on the ability to serve dozens, hundreds, or in some extreme cases, thousands of websites from the same server, with the net effect that the websites don’t work very well.

Common Pitfalls of shared hosting

Insecure – shared memory and resources protected only by administrators’ wit means a greater likelihood others on your server can read your data (I’ve never found a shared server that I wasn’t able to see at least some of my neighbour’s supposedly private data);
Unstable – due to the increased needs of their customers, the shared hosting provider often changes things, finds problems and needs to reboot the system, fails at that and rolls back etc;
Slow – with all the quotas in the world, an overloaded system will never perform well. Most shared hosting providers don’t know where to stop – especially because they’ve already put all the software they can find on the server so that you’re likely to be happy with the features;
Limited – Providers often try to install all of the software you’d ever want, but if you want something they haven’t already installed, it’s a trial to get it added. Version conflicts with other software can become unresolvable.

Simply, shared hosting is generally a false economy unless you’re going for the very simplest of sites. The poor performance of the site coupled with the very basic level of support means that when you get stuck, your only get out will likely be to leave shared hosting.