DEV Community

Cover image for Shared Hosting vs a Managed Server: Choosing the Right Way to Host Multiple Clients
Robert Schleinhege for IONOS

Posted on

Shared Hosting vs a Managed Server: Choosing the Right Way to Host Multiple Clients

When building web projects for clients as a freelancer or agency, deciding how you host your projects is crucial. The options on the market can seem staggering, and even feel a bit overwhelming. So I thought I’d shed a little light on the two major types of managed hosting to answer one question:

Is hosting on individual shared hosting plans better than going with your own managed server?

To help me find an answer, I reached out to IONOS Agency Partner Fachwerk Media. As experts in webdesign, they have years of experience hosting dozens of client projects and shared their knowledge with me for this post.

What’s the key difference between shared hosting and managed servers?

Both approaches are managed solutions. With both options, you’re sacrificing the flexibility provided by root access in exchange for the added convenience that comes with allowing your web host to take care of stack updates. Most hosting providers use the same data center for both types of hosting products and choose similar quality hardware. The key difference is that shared hosting plans, as the name suggests, share hardware with other websites, whereas with a managed server you’ll get your own dedicated hardware. With a managed server, hosting providers usually allow you to select your CPU model, and how much RAM and/or storage you need. Shared hosting plans, on the other hand, come with a set amount of storage, domains, databases, and mailboxes, but processing power specifics are often lacking.

Does buying shared hosting plans for each client make sense?

Going with this approach means that you purchase a new shared hosting plan whenever you start a new client project. Manuel Kling from Fachwerk Media reveals that this comes with the following pros and cons:

Pros

  • It’s more secure since clients are virtually separated from each other
  • Buying a new plan for each client is cheaper — especially if you’re just getting started
  • You can individually manage project performance. Some hosts like IONOS offer scalable performance levels that you can change daily depending on traffic. Most web hosts require a plan change.

Cons

  • There’s no performance guarantee. If other websites located on the same hardware see traffic peaks, your site's performance might be impacted.
  • You need to manage FTP access for each web hosting plan
  • Switching between hosting contracts can be time consuming. IONOS has built a free client management dashboard to make this easier. Read more.

Should you rent your own managed server?

Having your own, fully dedicated server located in a secure data center sounds good, right? Not so fast. Let's take a look at the pros and cons.

Pros

  • All your projects share the same hosting account and FTP access and customer contract
  • You only need to instal CMS backup tools like Akeeba Solo just once for all your projects
  • You know exactly how much performance you get
  • You decide how you share each server — depending on how you set up your server, this may even save you money in the long term.

Cons

  • It’s less secure because client folders are not physically or virtually separated. This could also lead to mistakes if you navigate to the wrong folder.
  • You have to manage the server load yourself. If one site's traffic goes through the roof, your other sites might not get enough resources. Also, you don't have an out-of-the box solution for managing the performance of each project separately.
  • If you’ve just started with your first client project as a freelancer, renting a managed server can get expensive. Managed servers from IONOS, for example, start in the $40.00 range/month.

Conclusion

"We use individual servers for multiple clients, but it wasn’t always this way. In the beginning, we didn’t have all the possibilities that exist today. Both approaches have their benefits and which one you choose depends on the particular situation." - Manuel Kling, Co-Founder of Fachwerk Media

When deciding on a hosting setup, Manuel suggests first asking yourself these three questions:

1. Which is the best way to make sure that your projects get the right performance, but still stay secure?
If you choose a hosting provider that can guarantee enough performance, shared hosting is a good option. If you feel comfortable estimating your own performance needs, a managed server might be the better option.

2. Which workflow works best for you?
If managing all your projects with just one FTP access feels secure enough, you can save time with a managed server, since you don’t have to switch hosting contracts or FTP access. If your web host offers good multi-client tooling, shared hosting is also a good option.

3. Which setup is the better for business?
Having your own server sounds awesome, but it comes at a price. So if you’ve already got a lot of client projects lined up, a managed server can be a great long-term investment. For those just starting out in the industry and looking to cut initial costs, shared hosting is the more affordable choice.

Discussion (5)

Collapse
yummikus profile image
yummikus

But there is a minimum when choosing a hosting. For example, I choose only hosting and on SSD drives. To have quick access to files on the hosting and the site pages loaded many times faster. HDD drives, on hosting, are already a thing of the past.

Collapse
godrik45245632 profile image
Godrik

I made a corporate website for a client, and I needed stable hosting with high capacity and SSD drives. Since I made the site large, more than 60 pages, the site had to load quickly, and the deployment of the website on the hosting is simple.
As a result, I chose shared hosting on SSD drives from hostforweb. I liked their SSD hosting cpanel hostforweb.com/packages/ They have 300 preinstalled applications that one can install in one click if needed. For example, I made a website on WordPress, so I needed this hosting.

Collapse
roberts profile image
Robert Schleinhege Author

You are right, convenience aspects like one click applications are also a big aspect - and way more common in the shared hosting area than for servers.

Collapse
godrik45245632 profile image
Godrik

Everything really depends on the tasks for which hosting or server is needed. If a really large web application, then it is one hundred percent managed cloud server. And if a small web application, then the usual hosting is enough.

Collapse
roberts profile image
Robert Schleinhege Author

Yes, that's totally true! Shared hosting allways hits a limit at a certain point, whereas you don't need to worry about performance issues with an - ideally scalable - managed server.