If you have Internet and technology savoir-faire, you would have heard of the term Internet Protocol or IP address and must be aware that this is the method by which data is communicated or sent from one computer to another on the Internet. It is a string of scientific numerical digits separated by dots that specifically represent every network. IP addresses actually distinguish each computer from the rest and even identify the computer’s location in any corner of the world.
IP addresses can be classified into two categories: Static IP Address and Dynamic IP Address. Put simply and as you can glean from the self-explanatory names, Static IP address is the default address of a (network) device; while the same network takes on the Dynamic IP address as soon as it enters the network.
On the other hand, IP addresses may also be classified according to their implementation. In shared hosting, where resources are shared IP addresses can be put into operation either as Name-based or IP-based virtual hosting. Name-based hosting is more popularly known as Shared IP Hosting, wherein all server partitions become accessible through the same IP address. The only way to tell each website apart is by the specific URL. Websites on shared IP Hosting – for example, www.web1.com and www.web2.com lead to the same IP address but typing the first would show the user to one partition; while the other would send the browser to another partition – both on the same server.
Conversely, with IP-based virtual hosting, multiple IP addresses are found on single server; each IP address matches up to a distinct website. This is deemed an advantage as it allows the website to obtain its own SSL.
Now that we’re done with terminology explanations, let’s take a closer look and examine the security aspect of Shared IP Hosting.
Is Shared IP Hosting Safe and Secure?
There has always been a long-running debate on how secure shared IP Hosting is. The fact is, the most significant weakness of Shared IP Hosting, so far is the intrinsic issues on the low level of security that besiege this web hosting method. The idea of sharing security certificates with thousands of domains on one server is already an enormous drawback. Added to this, if any of the websites are allowed to or are able to run PHP or Perl Scripts, it could open a hole that may cause security breaches. The same is true if the server allows shell access.
Another risk you could be facing with Shared IP Hosting is the potential for your files getting accessed by unscrupulous individuals (or company, for that matter) who shared the same server with you, if your host utilizes prepackaged software. The ability of the software to read, write and execute files on the server level can put your files in grave jeopardy. Further, one compromised website can result to a chain of compromised websites on the same server. If one website is charged with malicious and abusive Internet behavior – even if only to distribute spam, it may affect the whole server and could disable, block and shut down other sites on that server as well.
Although efforts are being currently done by developers to create software that can minimize the risks involved in shared IP hosting, there simply is no absolute guarantee for a full protection for your data and files on shared hosting. At best, tight and efficient security policies can only restrict some of the available ports and connections.
The Advantages of Shared IP Hosting
The supreme benefit that you can get from Shared IP Hosting is in its reasonable and affordable price. A web server incurs a lot of cost and requires regular upkeep. Sharing the server means you also divide the expenses involved among all the websites.
Minimal to No Maintenance Cost
Shared IP Hosting comes packaged with a “landlord” – the web administrator that takes on the responsibilities for the entire management and maintenance of the server, from installing server software to putting into operation the easy-to-use interface. This is definitely another great advantage as you are not required to possess extensive technical know-how to host your website. More importantly, you don’t need to spend more money for maintenance cost.
Works Well with Smaller and Beginner Sites
For websites that don’t need too many resources or those that don’t expect a spike in traffic anytime soon, Shared IP Hosting can be a boon and might generate more profit. Shared IP Hosting packages are more than adequate to make your website run smoothly, especially if you’re testing the waters. It’s absolutely the perfect entry level solution to get your business website online.
The Problem(s) with Shared IP Hosting
Apart from the inherent security issues discussed at the beginning of this article, this type of hosting has several other weaknesses that you should be aware of before you jump on the bandwagon and sign up for a lengthy hosting contract.
The Dilemma of Sharing Limited Resources
A major weakness is the reality that you are sharing your CPU, storage space and RAM with hundreds – even thousands – of other websites. It doesn’t give you much control and if any site on your hosted server suddenly experience spikes in traffic (that eats up a lot of memory!) it could trigger a slowdown and makes it difficult for your visitors to access your site; or worse it could crash your site along with the others. Typically, hosts limit the amount of storage and bandwidth; however, they are not always successful in preventing overwhelming needs for processing power and memory.
Another bad news is it’s quite easy to outgrow this kind of hosting package. As you business expands, your website traffic is bound to increase, and the more visitors you have; the more web hosting resources you’ll need for uploads or downloads, among other things.
Restricted Software Use
Because you have no direct control on the server, your choices for available software are also restricted. The host typically makes the selection on which software packages or what upgrades the company will allow you to use. It goes without saying that this selection is indeed very limited to a few.
Overall, Shared IP Hosting can be perfect for those just starting out on their website. You should be aware of the fact that there are plenty of limitations with this type of configuration. The absence of physical access to your server is reason enough to be vigilant; thus, it’s of great importance that you check the reliability of the host. If they are reputed to be unresponsive to maintenance and technical issues, you could be heading straight for some big time headaches.