Shared web hosting is a type of web hosting service whereby many users (websites) are hosted within the same server. In this type of hosting, different websites have space in the same server and share the cost of maintenance of the server.

Think of a server as a large office block, one company which has a lot of customers and a large budget could rent the entire office block for itself. However, many companies with fewer customers and smaller budgets could individually rent different offices and share the overall cost of leasing the office block. That analogy pretty much explains web hosting whereby, the office block represents the server; the large company’s situation is dedicated web hosting while the smaller companies’ situation represents shared web hosting. Although shared web hosting does not have the flexibility of dedicated web hosting, it is cheaper and has less maintenance from the user as opposed to dedicated web hosting. It is inappropriate for businesses that need extensive software development outside the provider’s hosting limits and requires businesses that do not have a large traffic.

The provider, as equivalent to a landlord as in the case of the office building analogy, is responsible for:

  • maintening of the server
  • ensuring that there is no (or very short) down time
  • providing the software updates
  • resolving any technical issues that may arise

Shared web hosting uses a web based control panel. This control panel allows the users to manage various website processes such as server logs, bandwidth, email, database and web log analysis. Examples of these control panels are Plesk, H-sphere, C- Panel, Direct Admin and Interworsk. Most of the servers in shared web hosting use the Linux based operating systems and the LAMP software bundle because of their reliability and security advantages over the windows systems.

Shared web hosting is usually accomplished in three ways:

  • IP based hosting
  • name based hosting
  • a mix of name and IP based hosting

In IP based hosting, the users all have different IP addresses and the client connects to a specific IP address in order to view the web page. With a name based hosting, there are different host names that share the same IP address and usually starts the address with HTTP/1.1. In a mix setting, the users have both different names and IPs that differ from each other.