The multiple kinds of web hosting available can get confusing for the new website entrepreneur. So many hosts, so many plans, and so many options to choose from! This is a natural effect of the web becoming such a dominant medium in both leisure and commerce. There’s about as many different kinds of websites as there are ways to do business, so web hosts have to try to accommodate every need.
The basic difference
The chief difference between shared hosting and reseller hosting is this:
- Shared hosting shares a server, but all accounts are purchased directly from the main host.
- Reseller hosting also shares a server, but customers buy web space to resell.
Modern web servers are large and powerful, so very few website owners would want to pay for a whole server to themselves (known as “dedicated hosting”). Instead, each web server is parceled out to many websites. Think of it as an apartment building.
Reseller hosting takes that same apartment metaphor and then rents out a whole floor, then sub-leases individual webspace slots to individual website tenants.
One other difference is that in a shared hosting plan, you buy one account and may have multiple domains running from it, but they will all be managed from a single hub, which is the CPanel login. A reseller scenario allows multiple CPanel accounts so that the reseller’s clients can log in on their own as well. The reseller instead has access to a meta-hub, Web Host Manager. This interface allows them to manage the individual CPanel accounts running from their reserved chunk of webspace.
Why would you use reseller hosting?
It seems counter-intuitive at first to have a third party between the web host and a lone customer. The fact is, resellers offer more value to go with resold hosting. Typically, the reseller offers additional services such as website set-up, maintenance, design, branding, SEO content, social media management, and other maintenance aspects of running an online business.
Reseller hosting is an ideal business model for professional web developers, freelancers, and others who work in eCommerce. A hosting reseller can offer a complete package deal, even up to being the full maintainer of the website, while the client can choose their own level of involvement. Reseller plans allow the reseller to add their own branding to the hosting service. In effect, it’s like being a web host yourself, but you’re renting server hardware from a provider.
Are there benefits to sticking with a shared host plan?
If you are going to maintain one main website for your business and maybe only need one domain or a few domains on the side, a shared hosting plan will be sufficient. Just remember that if you intend to run a website for anyone else, that entire domain is in your hands only, since you can’t share the login.
However, WordPress accounts allow multiple logins from users even if they don’t have access to the CPanel account. So if you’re simply running a group of blogs each with their own domain, you can focus on the setup and maintenance of the site backend, allowing individual users to log into WordPress and blog on their own time.
Reseller hosting as a micro-business
A shared plan is simple enough if all parties concerned are happy with a simple WordPress account and perhaps a shopping app on the side. If instead, a group of clients have more sophisticated needs, a reseller plan makes more sense, since each individual website can have their own set-up. A CPanel login for each domain means that they can pick and choose Joomla, Drupal, or WordPress, and other software or services.
From a customer standpoint, reseller hosting is a bit more expensive than a shared hosting plan. Reseller hosting involves higher bandwidth, storage, security, and overall maintenance.
From the end-user standpoint, there’s virtually no difference between buying a shared plan from the root host and a resold plan from a third party. Resold hosting plans are merely a matter of business agility since a reseller can include their expertise in service and technical support along with the raw domain webspace.
The bottom line
Both types of web hosting are doing the same thing from the root host’s standpoint: running multiple domains from a shared web server. The difference is mostly in how the space on the server is used.
Which plan is right for you depends on your needs and your intention of expanding later. Of course, domains can be migrated to different accounts with little trouble later, so there’s no real risk with a commitment to one plan or the other.