Hosting differences: Understanding shared, VPS, and dedicated options

Small BusinessCategory
6 min read
Tom Rankin

When it’s time to buy hosting, it can be difficult to know which of the many options is right for your business. Ultimately, you’ll want to choose a hosting plan that can meet your traffic, budget, and security needs.

Fortunately, there’s a few differences that clearly defines each hosting choice. What’s more, they’re relatively easy to understand, making it more likely that you’ll be able to select a web hosting package that meets your needs.

This article will serve as a brief guide to the basics of three different types of hosting – shared hosting, a virtual private server (VPS), and dedicated hosting. We’ll also explain the pros and cons of each, including their suitability for needs such as ecommerce. Let’s get started!

Please note, prices listed in this article are correct at time of publication.

We’ll assume you’re already aware of the very basics of what hosting is. Instead, we’ll discuss other deeper elements. Let’s briefly go over and define some of the key differences between hosts in general:

  • Server space: This is (of course) the size of your server, or how much hard drive space you’ll have.
  • Server configuration: This impacts your website’s speed and security. Every site should have at least basic security, but some sites will need even tighter restrictionsto protect sensitive data.
  • Memory: In general, the larger your site is or the faster you want it to load, the more memory you will need.

However, there are some inherent differences that define each hosting type, even if all of the above is equal. We’ll go over what these are later.

Managed vs unmanaged hosting

Before we move on, it’s worth discussing whether you opt for managed or unmanaged hosting.

For the uninitiated, unmanaged hosting means you’re responsible for any server maintenance. In contrast, managed hosting usually means your host will maintain the server on your behalf.

The former is ideal if you know what’s needed to keep your hosting package updated and running smoothly. Unmanaged hosting can also offer you more control over how your server performs, but only if you’re technically minded. On the other hand, managed hosting means there’s less for you to worry about as your hosting provider will take care of updates and such like for you.

The differences between hosting types

Let’s take a look at some different types of hosting and what you can do with them. This should help you identify the right hosting package for your website.

Shared hosting

Simply put, shared hosting stores multiple websites on one server. It’s usually the choice for small personal sites, such as blogs. It’s also ideal if you have a very small budget.

However, despite the attractive cost, shared hosting comes with some serious drawbacks, including reduced security. The risks are minimal, but shared hosting can make it harder to fully secure your site.

Shared sites don’t offer root access, so you are limited in implementing certain server configurations, such as. You may be able to purchase a third-party solution that does the job, albeit with restrictions. You may want to consider using GoDaddy Website Security to help protect your website.

Another downside is reduced speed, as memory on a shared server is split across all sites on that server. For example, if one website on your shared server experiences high traffic, your website may slow down.

The cheapest GoDaddy web hosting package starts at just £3.99 a month.

Editor’s note: You may also want to consider GoDaddy’s Website Builder, which allows you to build your own website with a drag-and-drop editor. Prices start at £4.99 a month, with hosting included.

Virtual private server (VPS)

Next, a VPS is like a middle ground between shared hosting and dedicated hosting (which we’ll cover next). A VPS is more expensive than shared hosting, but it’s also more powerful.

A VPS is configured in such a way that although the server itself is shared, each user gets their own dedicated resources. That means your website won’t slow down if another website gets a spike in traffic.

Also, a server used as a VPS is usually split between fewer users than shared hosting, which means you get a bigger slice of the resources on offer.

Some VPSs offer root access, meaning you can do more under the hood if you have technical skills.

You can also get managed VPS hosting, which allows you to unleash the power of a VPS without needing technical skills. However, you’ll usually pay extra if you want a managed VPS.

A VPS is usually best for large, complex websites or apps that aren’t suitable for shared hosting but aren’t large enough to require a dedicated server.

GoDaddy offers VPS hosting starting at just £3.99 a month.

Dedicated hosting

Finally, we have dedicated hosting. As the name suggests, the entire server here is reserved for your website only, including any and all resources. You’ll often find those resources are greater initially, although there is a cost attached.

However, if the budget is in place, a well-configured dedicated hosting plan also offers practically the best security available. The most obvious reason is that there are no other sites to affect the performance of yours.

Like an unmanaged VPS, dedicated hosting also requires technical knowledge. You’ll often want to configure your own server (although managed hosting is available too). The price tag can also be a drawback, but that’s understandable given the flexibility and power you receive.

As such, dedicated hosting is going to be ideal for enterprise-level sites and businesses where a fast server load time is crucial. Since dedicated plans start out with more space and server capacity, it’s an excellent option for the very largest websites.


Picking the right type of hosting for a website is crucial. The wrong plan can mean you pay too much for resources you don’t need, or that your website runs too slowly.

This post has looked at three major types of hosting plans. Let’s recap them quickly:

  • Shared Hosting.This is likely not going to be a consideration for most businesses. Unless you’re helping to set up a personal project, it’s a good idea to steer your clients elsewhere.
  • VPS Hosting. This somewhat combines the cost-saving benefits of shared hosting with an additional layer of security and dedicated memory. This ensures consistent site performance for middle-sized businesses and modest needs.
  • Dedicated Hosting. This is the perfect option for enterprise-level companies where the traffic level or size demands a larger number of resources. Dedicated hosting is also great for websites that manage sensitive data.

You can learn more about hosting in general in this guide.

Need more help picking your hosting package? Call the GoDaddy Guides on to discuss your needs