Shared Hosting is the most inexpensive way to host a website. Because of these most personal websites, blogs, and small to medium sized online businesses use shared servers in the beginning. It makes perfect sense that you use a shared server first before upgrading to a VPS, dedicated, or reseller account. Think of a shared server as a “starter” plan. Keep in mind that you are sharing your resources on a single server (disk space, physical memory, processor time, bandwidth, processes, inodes, etc.) with multiple websites.
Yes, I am well aware that many respectable web hosting companies do offer something called “unlimited” hosting. This means that you can essentially use an unlimited amount of storage, bandwidth, etc.
However, when do you know you’re using too many resources? Surely, you have learned by now that you can get your site suspended from using too many resources. Web sites are suspended for using too many server resources such as RAM or CPU usage. Make sure you read the TOS (terms of service) and ask some questions to their sales department for the actual limits if you want to avoid using too many resources on their shared servers. Your website may be overloading the server to a certain extent. It affects other sites that are on the same shared server, so your web host has no other option, but to send you an email asking that you upgrade to a plan with more limits. The limits of resources can be available to you is different from one web hosting provider to another, so you better check with your provider for this particular information. For example, Hostgator limits you to 100,000 inodes, but BlueHost limits you to 200,000 inodes. Some common causes of server resource suspension have to do with hacking or security related issues, script or plug-in vulnerabilities, the sudden burst of popularity and out of date script or plugins.
Let me get a little off topic for just a second. I do have a VPS server with InMotion. I have about 27 websites that were on my VPS. Some of them are sites that are no longer active. Some are temporary sites, and there is a lot of emails and MySQL databases that I don’t need anymore. To make a long story short, I had a problem with reaching my inodes limit. Naturally, since I have a VPS server, it supports a lot more inodes than a shared server. My inode limit is 700,000. I was recently was updating tbwhs.com and couldn’t upload any images in my media section. I kept getting an error stating that there was no temporary file. So, what I did was contact InMotionhosting.com and asked them about the problem. One of their techs told me that my inode limit was maxed out. He did raise it to 1,200,000 indoes, which was quite nice of him.
- Remove old MySQL databases.
- Remove old cache files.
- Delete old emails. (could always change MX records to push through Gmail).
- Delete plugins you don’t want. (Also, update them.)
- Delete old themes.
- Remove large images, videos, etc.
- Install caching plugins (check out WP Super Cache & WP Total Cache).
Remember that just deleting the files will not always free up inodes. Sometimes there are different directories that pull from multiple directories. You can always contact your host and they can assist you in freeing up your inodes and lowering some of your server load. Then once they assist you ask that they reboot your server to free up any processes that might be left running. Siteground actually has very good service and they can really help you out with this.
Here are couple useful resources I also found on freeing up resources:
Blackmoreops.com – Delete clear cache to free up memory on your slow Linux server, VPS.
StackOverFlow.com – How to free up memory used by idle SQL Server databases?
ServerFault.com – Freeing up memory (RAM) on Ubuntu 8.04 Server [duplicate].
Ok, so now let’s get back on topic and talk about shared hosting again. Shared hosting is what using too many resources pertains to. What shared hosting providers do when you have reached your resources limit is to inform you of your violation of their resource usage policies; giving you the specific hours, days of notice to suspend your site if you don’t communicate with them properly. However, not all web host are like this; some will just shut you down and tell you to upgrade. Depending on the terms of agreement (TOS) your provider can either suspend you or send you an email asking that you resolve the issue. Shared host providers sometimes give CPU graphs directly to their customers that are located in their control panel so that their clients can see whether their site is using too many hardware resources for shared hosting. One company I do like is WireNine because they tell you upfront that you can use 25% of their CPU resources before you need to upgrade from a shared plan to a VPS plan?
Images & Videos
There are simple guidelines that can help you to get most out of your shared hosting account before making the switch to a more expensive hosting plan. To get the best performance, you should limit the use of photo and video gallery web applications by re-sizing or re-encoding upload content as needed. For images, I would recommend using WP Smush.it. If you have a lot of videos, you can always use YouTube or Vimeo.
Turn the extras offs unless you need them for the proper functioning of your site. Limit the use of plugins or adding lots of miscellaneous functionality to your site. Keep your database small by not storing things on your server that you don’t need. Every 3-4 months go through your server and clean out stuff you don’t want on there. Some examples of unneeded information include sessions and error logs. Make use of a static file is catching. Key based caching can be accomplished in a variety of ways. These values can be stored in flat files, in a database, Memcached or stored inside the web application process.
You can always ride out the storm with your shared plan. There are some things you can do to reduce the resource usage. Sometimes shared hosting is not enough anymore for your site needs the next step is to look for a VPS server. Just make sure you budget for it because a VPS will cost you about six times as much as a shared server.