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Hosting Multiple Web Sites in One Account vs Using a Reseller Plan

One of the most attractive features of modern unlimited shared hosting plans is the ability to host multiple web sites within one cPanel account. Talk about cost effective! Many of our customers have a couple of small, low-traffic web sites, and with the low resource usage of each it makes perfect sense to take full advantage of an unlimited domain hosting account rather than pay for multiple web hosting services.

It’s not a solution to all of life’s problems however! Like everything in life, multi-domain hosting has its pros and cons, and without weighing them, customers sometimes wind up wasting more time and energy than they thought they were saving in the first place.

At Squidix, we generally recommend that clients with more than 3 web sites opt for what’s called a reseller plan, even when they are not actually re-selling hosting to others. And it’s not (only) because we’re greedy and want to sell you more hosting than you need – let us explain.

Security

This may not seem like an obvious issue, but it is probably the single most serious drawback to multi-domain hosting plans.

Just like with most hosting plans, you will usually be issued a login to a control panel where you can administer your web site(s). The only difference between a multi-domain hosting plan and a single domain hosting plan is the number of domains you are allowed to route to this single account.

With a multi-domain plan, different domains are generally routed to different folders within this account, as opposed to separate accounts on one, or more than one, shared server(s). On the front-end of your web site, no one will be able to tell the difference. They pull up a specific domain, and they get the web site associated with that domain.

But this degree of separation only exists from the user’s perspective. From a technical standpoint, your files, databases, emails, everything, are all mixed together in one account. And this can have consequences if you ever have a security breach.

Say your account credentials are compromised, or just one of your many web sites is hacked. If you’re on a single-domain hosting plan, the hackers will be pretty much limited to the account they were able to infect, and therefore the single web site contained within. On a multi-domain hosting plan however, the hackers may very well be able to gain access to everything in your account, including all of your unrelated web sites.

We have seen clients host 20+ domains under one account with not a single problem. But we’ve also seen multi-domain hosting backfire, turning a bad situation into an awful one.

Cleaning up one hacked web site is hard enough – cleaning up a dozen or so is an absolute nightmare.

Organization

Some of us here at Squidix (I’m not going to name names) may be less than neat freaks, to put it mildly.

As such, those of us who are believe it is our duty to keep things organized. We try to keep our systems – from our business processes to our technical ones – as isolated as we can from each other. We’ve approached this and similar situations in the past, and in this instance we’ve decided that every web site or application we run for our own internal uses should be kept entirely separate from everything else, at least as much as is reasonably possible.

We have found that once you’re hosting more than a couple of web sites under a single hosting plan, things tend to get messy. You’ve got files, databases, e-mail accounts, filtering rules, DNS zones, and much more all together under one roof. It’s easy to make mistakes, mix things up, and it just feels cluttered.

This is more of a personal preference than anything. If you’re big on organization, it may be well worth the extra cost to keep your sanity by keeping your web sites totally separate from one another. If not, well, to each their own!

Performance

Remember, unlimited domains doesn’t mean unlimited everything. If only!

While you may have unlimited domains, even disk space and/or bandwidth, any hosting company worth their salt is going to keep an eye on their servers for users who are maxing out CPU, RAM, IOPS, or other, less tangible resources, and they will more than likely be doing so on a per-account basis as opposed to a per-web-site basis

With a multi-domain hosting plan, all of your sites will contribute to your resource usage for the single account you have. Not only can this cause issues with your host’s limitations, it can also cause issues with what’s important – keeping your web sites up and running.

Say one of your sites exceeds your resource limitations for that account, causing your account to be throttled or otherwise restricted. Well, on a multi-domain hosting account, that won’t just affect the site that caused the problem – it will affect your account as a whole. With something like a reseller account however, one buggy or CPU guzzling site may implode on itself, but at least it won’t explode all over your other web sites. Which is never fun.

These are the big 3 reasons we recommend clients carefully weigh the pros and cons of hosting multiple web sites in one account as opposed to opting for a reseller plan.

So let’s sum this up.

To be clear, for many, these issues won’t apply. You may be lucky enough never to be hacked, and hitting resource limits may not be a concern for you. If you run a static small business web site and keep your blog on a separate domain, or have a small e-commerce store that compliments your primary web site, multi-domain hosting is likely the perfect solution for you.

But we want our clients to be informed on their options, and for those of you hosting 3 sites or more, we strongly recommend looking at a reseller plan. For only an extra few dollars a month, it may prove to be money well spent for many who are looking to build their web based empire.

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