How Does Shared Hosting Fail Web Designers?

  • Avoiding possible “fail videos” of web design
  • The fast food of infrastructure
  • Clients crashing in your dorm room
  • Lawsuits as a legitimate threat
  • Your insurance against a hosting fail
  • VPS for better web design hosting


Avoiding possible “fail videos” of web design


As humans, we seem to be a little mesmerized by both success and failure. The winning team helps us remember to dream big, while the losing team reminds us what not to do so we don’t arrive at a similar fate. We aren’t always learning lessons from the losing party, though. We are sometimes exploiting them and laughing at their expense. In a “fail video,” for instance, somebody gets hurt.


Major hacking incidents get a lot of attention in the press, probably for the same two reasons. We want to correct ourselves and learn from the experiences of others – the highly constructive aspect of such coverage. On the other hand, we may also be a bit entertained by the idea that the victim is getting skewered on the nightly news.


It’s all, really, a matter of perspective. Here’s the scenario in which no one enjoys a fail video: when they’re in it. Similarly, no one is amused by watching themselves get, effectively, eviscerated in every newspaper in the country.


When you take that major hacking incident trending on Twitter and bring it down to earth in the context of web design, you don’t want your clients to think you failed them with poor security. Just as it’s miserable to be in a fail video,  it isn’t enjoyable to see your web design company hit with hacking.


The fast food of infrastructure


It is common for web designers to start out on shared web hosting, for a few reasons:


  • It’s the cheapest form of hosting
  • It’s widely available
  • It’s the most heavily promoted.


In other words, shared hosting is fast food. We all know fast food is not the healthiest option; it’s the low-budget “quick fix” for hunger, which in turn means that it is easy to sell.


With hosting, it’s important to remember that the widely available, low-cost market option is not usually the safest or most high-quality. Just like fast food may not be the wisest decision in terms of potential negative consequences, you may want to reconsider the use of shared hosting for your web design business.

Clients crashing in your dorm room


Other imagery has of course been used to describe the potential down-sides of shared hosting. For example, hack recovery pro Jim Walker described the shared model as “an open bay college dorm room, or an office building where all of the internal office doors share the same key.”


No one would advertise the infrastructure backing their service as “a dorm room where businesses can crash,” but that could be an apt way of describing web design based on shared hosting. Most web designers understand that they are prioritizing convenience and affordability over safety. However, the simple decision to use dorm-room-style hosting means that if someone enters the server to steal a roommate’s belongings (i.e., the data of another tenant), they will thereby have access to your clients’ things as well. Clearly, that degree of exposure could come back to haunt them, and possibly you as their trusted provider.


Lawsuits as a legitimate threat


Back in the 1990s, David Letterman had a bit on CBS’s The Late Show With David Letterman called, “Oh No! We’re Gonna Get Sued.” It was a popular segment. However, just like fail videos, no one likes to get hit with a lawsuit.


Along those lines, it is worth considering possible legal ramifications of shared hosting environments. Let’s say you have thirty clients on shared hosting. One of them wants to upload something to the server. The question then is, do you give that client FTP access? If you do, then they are able to access all the databases and other files of the rest of your clientele.


How? Maybe someone who gets FTP access has some hacking skills. Or, perhaps you just have a plugin on any of the sites that has a security hole. With a security hole present, the hacker’s job is straightforward.


Walker explained the hacker’s perspective: “[A]ll I have to do is use that to install a back door script, like FilesMan,” he said, “and I’ll have total access to everything within your account, from files, to images, as well as read and write access to all of your clients databases.”


What is the reputation of your web design firm? Are you known for operating ethically? If you use shared hosting, is it your responsibility to inform clients that a hack of another user could easily compromise their site? These are at least questions worth asking.


Walker points out that it would take under 3 minutes for a malicious intruder to delete all of your clients’ content and other data. Business decisions are always multi-faceted, but the risks of shared hosting are real.


Your insurance against a hosting fail


Yes, shared hosting is affordable. We know that part. As established above, it is also problematic.


Beyond hacking, there are other reasons why people choose virtual private server (VPS) hosting over the shared variety, according to Ajeet Khurana:


  • Isolation from other users


The strict delineation between the different users of a VPS is a benefit beyond security. While a shared hosting “roommate” might crash the server and take down your site, the owner of another VPS that’s on your server wouldn’t be able to do that.


  • Speed guarantee


You will continue to experience high performance on your site – i.e., fast and reliable loading – no matter what other VPS users do.


“If you have two CPU’s allocated to you, then you will always have those two CPU’s available to your operations,” said Khurana. Similarly, your RAM is unavailable to other accounts on the physical machine.


The speed of shared hosting, on the other hand, is variable. Resources are fundamentally being offered as they are available, rather than guaranteed, within that context.


  • Stability guarantee


We all know that reliability is a cornerstone of business credibility. Is your web design business reliable? Shared hosting is known for being unstable. For this consideration, VPS is again an upgrade.


  • Space guarantee


Disk space that is truly 100% unlimited does not come with shared accounts. A host that describes space of shared plans as limitless typically writes a “fair use” clause into their contract, noting that resources must be equally available to all users. It is like setting down party pizzas and giving you the “fair use” to grab your meal.


VPS means you don’t have to grab up the pizza before someone else gets it. “You have an agreed upon disk space that is paid for monthly and is reserved exclusively for you,” said Khurana. You either use it or not, but it remains allocated to your account regardless.


VPS for better web design hosting


As you can see, VPS is a big improvement over shared hosting. Are you looking for a strong infrastructural choice to fuel the growth of your web design business? At KnownHost, we offer fully managed VPS hosting with incredible support. Compare plans.

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