Hosting Tutorial & Guide

How to Choose Shared Web Hosting Service?

updated on Aug 02, 2015
How to Choose Shared Web Hosting Service? Shared web hosting is the most popular hosting solution for launching websites over the Internet. To help you pick a good option, we have introduced the most important aspects that should be considered when choosing web hosting service, including hosting features, customer service, cancellation policy, free marketing credits, and price. These are transparent checkpoints that you can evaluate a web host by yourself easily before signing up.

What Is Shared Web Hosting?

In order to have your business more visible for billions of internet users, you need to rent a web server which has fast connection to Internet and allows people to read your information. There are many options for hosting your websites. Usually the reasonable solutions are dedicated server, virtual private server, cloud hosting, and shared web hosting. If you're new to the internet or the estimated daily traffic of the website in the coming year is less than 800 page views or 300 unique visits, the shared web hosting shall be the best choice.

Shared web hosting means that the hosting company sells a dedicated server to thousands of customers. All of these customers share the server resources with each other. Each customer's data and files are protected to be invisible to others hosted with the shared server by some software or technology. Each customer has the complete access to the hosting account and shall be allocated with appropriate system resources.

What Is Shared Web Hosting The shared web hosting provider is responsible for the server maintenance, including both hardware and software.
  • Hardware: upgrade CPU, add memory, replace hard disk, setup backup system such as RAID 0/1/5, network routing and internet connection.
  • Software: upgrade OS or hosting solution software, install security patch, manage firewall, etc.

Meanwhile, as a customer, you have a web based control panel to manage your websites and services. You can view your website uptime or traffic statistics, exception logs, email accounts, and installation of applications. Most of companies don't help you maintain your website as the part of the hosting package unless you pay the additional money which may be more expensive than the hosting service itself.

Why Choose Shared Web Hosting?

Right Expectation on Customer Service For Shared Web Hosting Absolutely, it's the most budget and affordable web hosting solution that can promote your websites over the Internet. Generally, a good shared web hosting works flexibly for websites with less than 800 daily page views.

Another reason is that you don't need to take time maintaining the web server by yourself or hiring IT professionals. The hosting provider takes all of the work. Even some excellent providers perform data backups daily or weekly.

How to Choose Shared Web Hosting?

Pricing & Features

How to Choose Shared Web Hosting The reasonable price of shared web hosting is between $4 and $8 a month. This is the best range that well balances your cost and the web hosting service. It is suspected that some web hosts offer cheap web hosting under $3/month. In that case, it's highly possible that they cut off the customer service or oversell the server.

The best features of a web hosting are the things you require to launch your websites. So what you need to do is to create a list of features on what you need today and tomorrow, and check whether these are included by the hosting plan.

Reliability & Downtime Frequency

Reliability correlates to downtime. The downtime here doesn't mean 5 or 10 minutes down for server maintenance or scheduled operation. As I known, almost all web hosts have been hacked/attacked, down by hardware, or broken by OS/software upgrade. The key is the frequency and how they deal with the problem.

Right Expectation on Customer Service For Shared Web Hosting Basically, have one or twice downtime in a year is reasonable for web hosting in my opinion, not only shared web hosting, but also VPS hosting and dedicated server hosting. The reliability is determined by hardware, software and human maintenance.

As running a computer on hand, no one can guarantee there is no downtime caused by the damage of CPU, memory, motherboard or other hardware. How you can expect a server running for 24/7/365 with high working load without any problems.

Meanwhile, the system holes exist anywhere at all the time, so the hacks and attacks are endless. The FBI site had been hacked before, how you can think the web hosting is 100% secure perfectly.

What's more, most web hosts guarantee more than 99.9% uptime. To be frank, this number is extremely high. As we monitored dozens of web hosts , BlueHost is the only host that completely provides such a reliable solution consistently. Read the uptime in the past 30 days below,

Customer Service's Efficiency & Knowledge

Customer service is the most expensive cost for web hosting companies. Compared to spend $2000 for a web host serving for hundreds of customers for 3 years usually, hiring a employee based on U.S. for customer service takes up to $4000 monthly, including salary, bonus, office seat and facility, etc. Although most hosting companies offer 24x7 technical support through phone call, email and live chat, and guarantee quick response and instant help, only a few are able to do what they promise.

The realistic expectation of customer service on shared web hosting is, the 90% of issue can be resolved within 12 hours and the complicated ones need no more than 24 hours. I mean "resolved" here. I know there are some web hosts advertising the response in XX minutes, it's just giving you a signal that they have been aware of your problem but it's impossible to start working on that immediately without queuing.

The realistic expectation is described in detail as following,
  • The server down or network interruption shall be resolved in 2 hours.
  • The restore of your database, files, emails, etc shall be in 12 hours.
  • Request for software and environment upgrade shall be responded in 12 hours, whatever the result is.
  • The compatible issues caused by server upgrade shall be resolved in 12 hours.
  • The ticket about poor website performance shall be answered in 12 hours, by giving the detailed explanation. At most case, it's caused by some websites taking too much resources of the shared server. The web host should notice and take proper actions especially when you submit the ticket.
  • You shall be notified immediately when your website is suspended by the violation to the web hosting guideline, such as taking too much CPU usage, memory or bandwidth. You shall understand no shared web hosting is unlimited!

Right Expectation on Customer Service For Shared Web Hosting Yes, several hours may be too long for you while you're having the problem but it's reasonable for a business and company operation, as they're serving for hundreds of thousands of customers. But when you dissatisfy with the customer service of your current web host as they cannot address your problems properly or respond you timely, I recommend you considering to switch it immediately.

In the meantime, you shall not expect too much on the knowledge of customer support team, which is the easiest item can be tested by yourselves. You can prepare some simple questions and ask their technical support via toll-free telephone or live chat. The good sample questions are:
  • what is the kernel the OS and what versions of PHP are supported?
  • What versions of MySQL databases are supported and how I can manage my databases?
  • Do you integrate blog software so that I can easily start my weblog without any technical knowledge?
  • what the blog software are provided?

But you should not ask questions specific to your projects and coding technology. You cannot expect the support staff is knowledgeable on coding.

Hosting Service Transparency & Honesty

The key is how web hosts deal with the problem when there is. They should notice the affected customers transparently and honestly, by giving the sincere apology and explanation and setting the reasonable deadline to recover everything back. The active notification is quite important in the case that the server was recovered from hack/attack.

In this case, it needs webmasters to verify and confirm whether their website works correctly again, or take some simple actions for their websites by following the guideline provided by the web hosts. But some bad web hosts try to hide the fact that leads the webmasters may not be aware of their website down until they look into it after a long time.

Security & Backups

Security and backups are 2 very significant elements that you should try to contemplate. Just in case you are managing an e-commerce website then security is one aspect that you just cannot abandon. Your web hosting service provider should be such that they can monitor things round the clock and make sure no uninvited prowler can hack your website. After all it's your website and it is actually worth looking into this point of web hosting.

Disk Space

No matter what kind of websites you build, the disk space is where you store all files and data. In general, almost web hosts provide sufficient storage to standard blogs and websites. But you should be aware of it if you are running a website with a lot of images, downloads, videos, mp3 and other large files. Once you utilize too much storage, the web host will ban your account until you purchase other space or upgrade to a higher plan.

Besides, you need to pay close attention to the 'unlimited web space' that is claimed by the web hosts. As a matter of fact, there is no truly unlimited space as every driver is limited for certain storage. That only means the offered space is sufficient for almost standard websites.

Most of the web hosts advertise unlimited disk space and bandwidth, but no one of them is true. There is no “Unlimited Resources” physically. You will be suspended if you over-use the system resources.


Bandwidth refers to the monthly data transfer in web hosting. As everyone accesses into your website will load the file and web page, it's important for you to obtain a high bandwidth if you suppose to develop a large number of visitors. Just like the disk space, there is no “Unlimited bandwidth” existed physically. Usually, the shared web hosting is only designed for small sized websites with less than 800 page views daily.

Cancellation Policy

Most web hosts provide money back guarantee in a period in order to make customers worry-free and risk-free. However, don’t compare the money back time only, but you should understand the complete cancellation policy. Some web hosts claim a long period money back guarantee, but they deduct the set up and service fee in the refund. You may not get FULL money back as your initial expectation.

Besides, some guarantees are only valid for credit card, but not available for PayPal payment.

You need to read the Terms & Services for the details of cancellation policy of a web host, but not the simple advertisement at their home pages. Or, you may ask this question to the customer support team.

Scripts & Applications

If you're a non-technical customer, it's easy for you as you only need to consider whether the web host offer auto-installation of WordPress or Joomla for website building; is there a free domain name; how many websites you can launch on one account, etc.

If you’re a programmer, in addition, you may check if the prerequisite of your website program is supported, such as PHP, MySQL, Python, Ruby on Rail, etc. The extra useless technical features are not designed for yours, and they’re just consuming system resources.

Top Mistakes to Avoid in Selecting a Web Host

Solid and quality web hosting service is the foundation of online business. However, there are some common mistakes that occur frequently when selecting a web host. In below, we have listed top mistakes as follows.

1. Choosing a Hosting Provider That offers Free Hosting Service or Free Space

Less experienced and unprofessional webmasters may be attracted by the cheap or free web hosting services, but in most cases, you'd better not use free web hosting. Though the solution is a good option for people who have personal blogging sites, this kind of service is not included with server resources or features needed to host a business website. Besides, companies that provide free hosting service will ask their customers to put advertisements on their sites. The ads would make the hosted sites strange and inappropriate.

On a free hosting plan, you have to compete with anyone who wants to sign up, so that you may get just very little disk space, bandwidth, databases and other server resources, all of which are far from enough for you to run your websites. In addition, if you are hosting your sites with a web host that offers free space, you have to make clear the following 3 related questions.
  • If the free sites and paid sites share the same servers?
  • Will these advertisements be placed on sites that are hosted on the paid hosting plans?
  • What may happen if a free or paid website uses too many resources? Is there any option to upgrade before the site being shutting down?

2. Choosing a New Hosting Provider

Top 5 Mistakes to Avoid in Selecting a Web Host On the market, there are thousands of web hosting providers, most of which have been set up for less than 5 years. A majority of brand new companies have done a lot of things to attract people to go with them, including offering low prices, absorbing deals, extras, freebies, and software.

However, the lack of experience in the industry may get them into trouble, which may cause a lot of hosting issues to you sites that are hosted with their services.

A lot of Internet marketers suggest that people should choose web hosts that have been in business for a couple of years and offer rich features that can be upgraded as the websites expand. Therefore, when choosing a web host, you should avoid any company that has been in business less than 5 years.

3. Without Checking Hosting Reviews

Almost every web hosting company tells everyone that the hosting services provided by them are the best in the industry, which may lead you to choose an improper hosting plan. Before purchasing a hosting service, you should search the hosting plan and the company on the Internet to check out whether the provider and the service are recommended by the common webmasters and hosting professional technicians.

There are some companies filling the Internet with fake positive hosting reviews, so it can be difficult to know the truth of the hosting services and the real voice of customers. According to our years of experience, there are some good sites with professional insights, including,, and TheHosting.Review.

Shared Web Hosting Scams

Right Expectation on Customer Service For Shared Web Hosting In order to help you away from the scams of the web hosts, we have put all general tricks of the shared web hosting together so that you can pay more attention before the sign up, which include unlimitedness, contact, free domain, money back guarantee and 99.9% uptime guarantee.


"Unlimited" is the biggest trick of nearly all web hosting companies. Actually it’s impossible for you to get unlimited disk space, network bandwidth and email storage etc. In the case that you pay for only several dollars per month. The truth of "Unlimited" is only for the small websites with daily views below a hundred that the web hosting looks unlimited apparently.

In fact, the web hosts will notify you upgrade to their higher level hosting plan once your website volume grown. Otherwise they will suspend your accounts immediately. In fact, the web hosts have strict limitations on CPU usage, memory or bandwidth and they will notify you upgrade to their higher level hosting plan once your website volume grown. Otherwise they will suspend your accounts immediately.

Take an example, almost customers of GoDaddy think their hosts are powerful but there are still many complaints about that GoDaddy suspended their accounts automatically. The hidden trick of GoDaddy is that their monitoring program will turn off the account automatically if it takes the system resources closed to 2% of the server.

Free Domain

Many web hosts advertise for one free domain included in the hosting plan, but they illegally register the domain with their own name. If you intend to change the hosting provider, you will be very difficult to get your domain. Thinking about that you have managed your websites for 2 years and your domain has gotten a good reputation in the niche. When you're unhappy with the hosting provider and want to switch to another, but legally the domain is not your possession!

Take an example, WebHostingPad registers the free domain of the hosting plan for customers with their own name. You only have 2 choices when you move the websites from them. First, give up the domain. Second, pay them the money they asked however how much it is.

Finally, based on those introduced criteria above, we have the web hosting choices recommended to you as following.