What seems like a simple question actually has a surprising answer. Between a personal site, a side business, and helping a friend out, you might find yourself juggling website hosting for several sites and wondering what’s the best way to handle this scenario. For this article, lets assume you have two sites: a personal website called mypersonalwebsite.com and a business site called xyzshoecompany.com. Although we all know what a website is, we have to understand that web hosts generally define a website or web hosting account as:
-a single user account on a server with a single directory structure for content
-able to be associated with one or more domain names.
Let’s assume your personal website, johnswebsite.com, has been up and running for years, and you’ve decided to start a new business and have settled on the domain name xyzshoecompany.com. You would have to order a new hosting account in order to use this domain name, since the content is different from your personal site. Remember each website has a single directory structure with a single homepage.
After you’ve had xyzshoecompany.com up and running for a while, you may decide that you’d also like to use 24hourshoes.com for marketing purposes. You could easily purchase this second domain name and point it to your existing website. Now customers can get to your website by typing in either domain name.
You can see how after adding a few sites managing all this can get pretty complicated pretty quickly. But, there are options!
Option #1: Consolidate single sites
The easiest first step is to consolidate by moving sites at different hosts to a single host. This gives you a single point of contact for technical issues, and often consolidated billing. Another option for consolidation is to host one site’s content in a sub-directory of another site. For example, you could offer you move the content of myfriendbob.com to mypersonalwebsite.com/bob. The downside is that Bob would no longer be able to use his domain name, but the cost of his hosting is essentially avoided.
Option #2: Dedicated server or VPS
For most people this is probably like trying to kill a fly with a sledgehammer. But if you have a site with alot of traffic or host a mission critical function, this is a good option. A VPS or dedicated server gives you the ability to host multiple sites, each with their own user accounts and directory structures. If your dedicated server has a web management interface, you can easily manage all your sites from a single control panel interface. It also gives you the option of adding additional sites in the future without incurring additional expense. The downside is they can be pricey and definitely takes some time and know-how to manage.
Option #3: Multiple Site Hosting (MSH) or Reseller Plan
This is a specialized hosting product that offers the cost savings of single site hosting with the centralized managment of a dedicated server. This is essentially a group of single sites that is billed and administered centrally. You can administer all the sites through a central login, or you you can allow administrator access to others on a site-by-site basis. These plans are typically offer lower pricing on a per-site basis the ability you to add, remove, and modify sites on your own. These plans do have limits, so be sure to take note of how many domains can be hosted, and look for generous amounts of disk space and data transfer.