Why won’t my shared web host allow?

Shared web hosting is common and relatively cheap these days pay a small monthly fee from £1 all the way up to £35+ and you can easily setup a website with FTP, database and mail support. The features provided with most shared web hosting these days are varied to some providing hardly any to others providing complete automated website installation scripts for 1 click website setup. It’s a competitive market with the leading giants competing with each other and then the smaller single user companies trailing behind trying to make a living whilst never being able to match the giants without making a huge profit loss.

What people don’t understand is that a shared hosting package if for hosting websites only with some providing some extra features such as mail services. I have had numerous people ask me to setup various software, tools and services on their server to then find out that this server is actually a web hosting package on a shared web hosting server (which they don’t actually own or have control over), to which the response is normally why not?

Why not?

Well the answer is simple you technically are only renting the ability to store your files on your hosts server and use there already installed web server software to distribute your website content across the internet. It is called shared hosting as multiple websites are being hosted on a single server meaning each of your hosts clients including you are locked down into your own little prison, your website doesn’t (shouldn’t)  have the ability to access any data outside of your dedicated area.

To give you the ability to install software or reconfigure already installed software would compromise the server security and reliability but any changes you performed would also affect every client your host has on that server. Let’s say you make a change to the PHP configuration and disable some PHP extensions as your website doesn’t use them, you have now just stopped potentially all the other websites hosted on this server from working due to your small change.

Installing new software is potentially the same issue but there is also the issue of overloading the servers CPU, RAM and most importantly licensing and illegal activities. A hacker who had access to the internals of a server and the ability to execute commands couldn’t easily find away to break from there dedicated space and reap havoc on the server.

A shared hosting provider cannot risk decreasing the security and reliability of a server to enable you to install custom applications, at the end of the day you do not own the server and think of it the other way around. If you had a server hosting potentially hundreds of paying customers would you want to risk their website going down every two minutes or have to tell them you have lost all their data?

The solution

The easiest method is to setup your own server if you do not have enough for this you could always look at renting a dedicated server from a third party or purchasing a virtual private server (VPS). I myself use a VPS which is just a mini dedicated server and gives you complete control of the server and its software. Here is a couple of posts I have done related to VPS would I would defiantly look into reading.

http://shanerutter.co.uk/2011/02/02/why-a-vps-virtual-private-server/

http://shanerutter.co.uk/2011/02/01/what-is-a-vm-virtual-machine-and-vps-virtual-private-server/

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