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Small Business Web Hosting: To Share or Not To Share

web hosting solutionWhen you’re just starting out – whether you’re looking for your first apartment or home or if you’re a small business just launching your Web site – it makes sense to share the cost. For people, that might mean renting an apartment with a group of friends or co-workers. For a small business, it often means paying your Web hosting company to share server space with other businesses. This “shared hosting” solution is reliable, secure and offers great performance for a price that’s much cheaper than purchasing on-site infrastructure or paying for dedicated server space.

Shared hosting also is the most affordable option. Typically, for between $3.00 and $15.00 per month, businesses can get an adequate amount of server space. “The difference in price usually reflects the quality and availability of customer support and the companies’ willingness to lose money on your account in your first year,” said Bob Anderson, writing for the Entrepreneur Magazine blog.

But as your business matures, having “roommates” may cramp your style. For businesses that need extra storage space, need increased speed, or are anticipating explosive growth but don’t need specialized security measures, a virtual private server (VPS), might be a better option, Anderson said. VPS describes the method of partitioning a single server, or computer, to behave as though it is more than one physical machine, keeping each company’s data and applications separate from one another.

A VPS solution is more expensive, ranging from $40.00 to $150.00 a month. But it’s a great option for businesses that need more performance than shared hosting can provide but are still cost-sensitive.

If your business has the need for high levels of security and/or special compliance requirements, then you might need a dedicated hosting solution. A single machine used only to house your organizations’ data and applications, Anderson said. But that kind of real estate comes with a hefty price tag — typically between $200.00 per month or $2,400.00 a year or more. Of course, you’re getting an enterprise-class machine, housed in a state of the art data center with redundancy and additional support staff.

Regardless of which option is best for your business, you’ll need to make sure that your chosen provider is prepared for long-term, rapid growth and be able to handle short-term, sudden spikes in traffic. To make sure your provider can handle an increasing number of visitors and page views, you should ask them to provide an estimate of how many visitors per month they accommodate at each of the sites they host, said Tarun Bhatti, senior product marketing manager for managed hosting provider Rackspace.

Once you know the average number of visitors per month for each site a provider hosts, he said, you will get a ballpark idea of how much traffic the hosting provider is handling. Of course, this will only give you an average.

“If your website gets less than 10 times to 15 times the number of page views, then it’s a good sign” your provider will be able to successfully handle your site, regardless of spikes and seasonal traffic increases, he said.

Bhatti said if your business is seasonal – for instance, if you see business peak around Christmas or another specific holiday or season – or if you’re expecting an increase in traffic because of intensive marketing, promotions, sales or as a result of national media attention, you also should let your provider know so they can be prepared.

Whether you decide to share server real estate or go it alone with a dedicated hosting solution depends on the unique needs of your business. But knowing your options and carefully exploring hosting solutions can help make that decision easier.

Sharon Florentine is a freelance writer who covers everything from data center technology to holistic veterinary care and occasionally blogs for Rackspace Hosting. 

Written By

Jennifer Marsh is a software developer, programmer and technology writer and occasionally blogs for Rackspace Hosting.

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