Join Morten Rand-Hendriksen for an in-depth discussion in this video What is shared hosting?, part of Installing and Running WordPress: Shared Hosting.
The most common and most inexpensive way to host a Wordpress site on the web is through shared hosting. Getting webspace on a shared hosting server is a little like renting a hotel room or an apartment. It's cheap and flexible, but you may run into trouble with the neighbors, and price often reflects service and location. When you get a shared hosting plan, you're allotted a predefined volume of hard drive space on the server. In additon, you're allowed to use a certain amount of RAM, processing power and in and out traffic on that server.
The space, RAM processing power and traffic is shared among the different people and companies who rent space on the server. That means if you're lucky and you're placed in a good part of town with polite neighbors, you won't have any trouble with your site. On the other hand, if you're placed in about part of town where the neighbors or more precisely their website are large, poorly maintained or are extremely popular. Their bad management or hogging of resources will negatively impact performance of your site.
Don't let this dissuade you from using shared hosting though. For most sites, a mid to high level shared hosting account with any of the more reputable shared hosting providers, will be more than enough. And if you run into trouble along the way, you can either ask the host to move you to a new server, or upgrade to a better plan.
Need to run WordPress locally on your system for development or testing purposes? Check out the other courses in this series:
- Installing and Running WordPress: MAMP
- Installing and Running WordPress: WAMP
- Installing and Running WordPress: BitNami
- Installing and Running WordPress: WebMatrix