Every webmaster must make a decision on which type of hosting they need before launching their website. For beginning bloggers and small business websites, a shared hosting plan usually meets the requirements and is perhaps the only affordable option. But people always wonder: how much traffic can a shared hosting plan support?
Before we answer that, let’s have a little primer on the three common types of web hosting plans.
1. Shared hosting
Shared hosting refers to hosting your website on a shared server environment. Many websites are hosted on the same physical machine, sharing server resources – CPU RAM and storage. Usually, an abnormal spike in resource usage on one of the websites will cause the neighbor sites to suffer. However, this rarely happens. There are also security vulnerabilities on the server, though the hosting companies implement a few measures to thwart such attacks. Here are a few reviews on some of the leading shared hosting providers – WebhostingHub, bluehost, ipage.
2. Virtual Private Server (VPS) hosting
VPS is more robust, offers more disk space and bandwidth, and as the name suggests, more privacy. With a VPS plan, your website is still hosted on a shared physical server, only this time the partitions are fewer and you have more room to breathe. Even more importantly, your ‘private’ disk allocation acts as though you were on a separate physical server, allowing you more administrative control.
You also have the ability to host many websites on separate cPanel accounts (a feature that makes it popular for reseller hosting especially among web designers). All this obviously comes an extra cost: the average VPS plan costs between $25 and $50 a month.
3. Dedicated server hosting
A dedicated server plan is the ultimate package. You have a physical server all to yourself, with much faster speeds and improved security. You do not have to worry about sharing server resources with another client – and you’re in full control of the configuration of your server. But if server administration isn’t your thing, you can delegate the task to someone with the technical skills.
Dedicated hosting comes at a much heftier price tag, the average about $150 a month. If you add support features, management and a firewall, you could be paying well over $1000 a month.
What hosting plan suits you best?
The level of hosting you need is determined by a few factors, key among them the traffic you expect. Though shared hosting companies promise unlimited bandwidth and space, the truth is that there’s no such thing as an unlimited resource. The good news is that most sites on a shared server never consume half as much as their average allotted resources, allowing few other sites to consume the unused parts.
But that’s as far as it goes. If you’re consuming too much that it affects your neighbors, your site may be singled out for suspension, sometimes without a warning. A good web host will alert you when your consumption is clogging the server and will advise you to upgrade to VPS or dedicated hosting.
How much is too much?
There’s no standard formula for determining how much of the resources your site will consume. However, the traffic you receive in relation to the performance of your site should tell you if you’re doing fine or if you need to upgrade.
Some people have attested on web hosting forums that their shared hosting plan could support 10-20,000 unique visits a day without running into performance issues. But every site is different in terms of page size and database queries, hence the differences in server loads. Sites with fewer images and other multimedia content put much less load on the server than, say, a high-res photo gallery website. The higher the requirements you place on the server, the less traffic you can support. The only way to find out is by actually testing.
We can safely say that shared hosting is an adequate plan for small business websites and the average blogger. It is affordable, and most hosts will allow you to upgrade to VPS or Dedicated if the need arises. And if you make your website with WordPress, there are several things you can do to supercharge it for optimal performance – most notably installing the WP SuperCache plugin to cache your pages and decrease server load.