Dedicated Servers vs Shared Servers: Which Fits Your Business Needs?

Tuesday, 19 May 2020  |  Posted in: Most Recent, News  |  8min read

Whether you are looking to start or redevelop a website, rollout out a new web app or you are just searching for a new hosting provider, you will eventually need to decide between using either a Dedicated Server or a Shared Server solution. Choosing the wrong one will leave you paying for more than you need or not getting the support and resources that your business needs. For that reason, you need to understand the trade-offs that you’ll be making as you balance price vs features in your decision-making process.

In this post, we’ll take a deep look at the differences between the two hosting solutions so that you’ll be able to make an informed decision as to whether or not you want to go with a Dedicated Server or a Shared Server.

What are Shared Servers and Dedicated Servers?

Servers are used to house all the files required for a website or online application and possess all the resources required to serve it to users who visit, when you pay for a server environment you paying for a home for your website.

The main difference between a Dedicated and a Shared server is the number of customers it has. When you purchase a Dedicated Server you are buying the whole thing and all of its resources exclusively for hosting your website, app or service – or combinations of all these. As you are the only customer in that server you can modify or configure it as best suits your specific business requirements.

On a Shared Server multiple customers are accessing the same pool of resources to house and deliver their websites or applications. Shared Servers are set up so that all customer information is kept separate but when it comes to the resources each site accesses the same available pool which can lead to issues and complications if you, or someone you are sharing with, requires a lot of resources for their site.

Think of a Shared Server as your computer, you have many programs on your computer and you can run them all at once. However, the more programs that are running the slower your machine works as they are all using the limited disk space and memory.

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Which server is best?

Generally speaking, smaller websites that do not get much traffic will do just fine with a Shared Server. If you only have light to medium traffic and are not planning on running software that requires some complex server configuration, then a Shared Server will likely be fine for your needs. In fact, it is a great way to learn the ins and outs of operating a website without any of the complexities that can arise from a Dedicated Server.

At a certain point, your resource demands will increase and sharing those with other users will become more and more impractical or you may require custom server configuration to support your online services that are just not possible in a shared environment. In these cases, a Dedicated Server becomes the best way to support your business.

Understanding the details is important so we have compared the key aspects of server environments to illustrate the major differences between Dedicated Servers and Shared Servers: security, scalability, performance, and server management.


Security is important to every business, but it is extremely important if you will be collecting personal data from your customers. Your choice of server has critical security implications.

  • Shared Servers

    In order to prevent all the customers on a Shared Server from being able to access each other’s content a virtual partition,n such as a hypervisor, is used to take a single server and make it function as if it were multiple servers. Despite this virtual separation problems can arise and the potential for security vulnerabilities needs to be considered. The sharing of resources also puts you at risk if someone you are sharing resources with becomes the target of malicious activity as the drain on resources, or the compromised security, will affect all shared customers – including you.

  • Dedicated Servers

    Not having other hosting customers in your environment significantly reduces the risk of data leaking around virtual partitions or you accidentally being caught up in an attack on someone else. The other major benefit of not having to worry about other hosting customers is you’re your server environment is yours to customise to your specific needs. You do not need anyone’s blessing to use root access to the device to set custom permission levels for anything on your server or to install hardware firewall solutions.



As your website or application grows in popularity, the number of resources that it consumes will grow with it. This will mean increased bandwidth usage, possibly increased disk usage, more memory consumed, etc. If you grow beyond the capabilities of your current server, you need to be able to quickly and easily adjust to those needs. This is referred to as scalability.

  • Shared Servers

    Because you share resources with others on a Shared Server, your ability to scale is limited. You do not have full control over the server, and therefore can’t simply have more resources installed on it. Even if you upgrade to a better server, you will still be sharing those resources unless you also migrate from the Shared Server to a Dedicated server which will incur its own extra cost.

    These issues are likely being experienced by everyone on your server so if another customer has a sudden spike in resource usage they will draw from the shared pool or server resources making your website slower and less responsive as a result.

  • Dedicated Servers

    A Dedicated Server will always be able to expand to meet the growing needs of your business. You’ll even be able to scale up or down as your requirements change. This means you’ll be better able to prepare for an event that will stress the system temporarily, such as a big product launch.



The resources consumed by your server have a lot to do with how well it performs. Only one of the solutions gives you complete control over that.

  • Shared Servers

    Let’s go back to our example of a Shared Server being like a computer. If you open every program and try to use them your computer will slow to a crawl, it might even crash. The same can occur for a server. While it isn’t likely for every site on a Shared Server to be pushing the system to its maximum at the same time, it is possible and you have no control over it which can lead to server outages you cannot anticipate.

  • Dedicated Servers

    With Dedicated Servers, you’ll always know what the strain on your system will be because you will be the one putting that strain on it. While there still may be spikes in traffic that can cause a slowdown, your site’s uptime and performance will always be better under a Dedicated Server than it would under a Shared Server simply because you can see and understand the strain and performance at any given time.


Server Management

Web servers are very configurable and the multitude of options give you the programming tools and environment that your development team needs to work with. Without full control over the server though, this configurability is severely limited.

  • Shared Servers

    Because a Shared Server needs to work for everyone on it it will always be a compromise of the best settings and management for all. This makes it hard to change so often you’ll be stuck with the server management software, database options, and programming language support that the hosting provider has decided to give you. The type of custom web development needed for serious business use of a website often requires the ability to make changes to these configurations.

  • Dedicated Servers

    Since you have a Dedicated Server all to yourself, you and your development team are free to change up anything you’d like about how the server operates and the tools that it uses to do so. It may be that having a Dedicated Server is the only way to achieve your development goals.


Risks vs Benefits

Both server solutions have their place but it is important to understand the differences and how they will affect you. Shared hosting is cheaper but comes with inflexibility, some security compromises and an inability to scale easily while Dedicated hosting gives you full control. If you choose to host your website with your web design agency, make sure that they specialise in the type of hosting that’s right for your business.

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Phone us on 1300 375 368 for an obligation-free chat with a digital specialist about how we can help to scale up your business online.

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