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A standard shared web hosting package is a suitable choice of hosting for many business and personal websites. However, there are many things to consider before choosing a provider including price, security, bandwidth, disk space and additional features.

Alternative hosting solutions, such as Dedicated Server hosting or Virtual Server hosting can instantly provide better security and faster processing speeds than shared hosting, but both come with higher costs, so it makes sense to be sure on exactly what you need before choosing those higher end options.

Shared web hosting, at a lower cost than the Dedicated and Virtual alternatives, is ideal if you want your site to be up and running within 24hrs, if you are short on technical experience and you simply want an affordable solution. Costs are lower because the server your site is hosted on is “shared” with many other people running their own websites. The choices you need to make come down to which level of shared hosting you buy. This decision will largely be based on your requirements i.e. do you have a large site? Will it use up a lot of bandwidth? Does it require a specific operating system? Do you require email? And so on.

What factors should you consider?

So, when choosing your level of shared hosting, make sure to consider the uptime being offered (how often does your provider anticipate server problems throughout the year?), disk space (the level of space needed to store your html files, image files etc), bandwidth (the amount of traffic allowed to / from your site), support levels (to makes sure any issues can be fixed promptly) and additional features that could help your site grow (this could include site promotion tools, access to website traffic stats and more).

It is also important to check the quality of hardware being used, the compatible software specifications and operating system. Most important is a consideration of all factors combined together, to make sure the package will suit your needs.

The providers of shared hosting are normally responsible for managing the servers, installing software, security updates and other aspects of the service. So make sure you know what else you’ll receive when you signup.

Operating system – Linux or Windows?

Most shared web hosting packages are based on Linux or Windows Operating Systems. Both are readily available and both have their own reasons for being the best option.

The decision, therefore, of choosing a Windows or Linux based web hosting solution should be based on your own actual needs, not myths. Specifically, the choice should be based on what you want to do with your site, if there are existing requirements and / or what requirements there may be in the future.

Linux

The Linux shared web hosting solution is perhaps the most used form of shared hosting. Often cheaper than the Windows alternative, its popularity is largely down its open source nature and the availability of support for the popular PHP scripting language and MySQL database programme.

Supporting other tools and languages such as Apache, Pearl and Java, Linux hosting servers are scalable and extremely reliable.

Windows

The Windows web hosting solution is based on the Windows operation system from Microsoft and, as a result, is the best platform for people who prefer using ASP / ASP.NET scripting languages and Microsoft SQL Server or Access databases tools. Clearly there is benefit should you wish to use any other Microsoft based technologies. The one key downside to Windows based hosting is that it is often slightly more expensive because of licensing fees (compared with the open source nature of Linux).

In summary, choosing a shared web hosting solution really comes down to your requirements. Do some research on what is available from various providers but, more importantly, make sure you know what you need now and what you might need in the future. Some questions we recommend asking to help would be: What scripting language is my site built in? Does it use a database? Does it have a lot of imagery on it? Is it a big site? Do I need site stats or promotion tools? How important is support to me? Do I need email with it?