5 "Shared vs. Reseller Hosting" Differences: Which is Better?

As the resident techie in my family and friend group, I have often been recruited to “help” folks choose a domain, sign up with a web host, get WordPress up and running, and explain little things like, “Why is my blog post showing up on the homepage?” And every time, I start with, “Give me your login info, and let me see what’s going on…” Sometimes it’s a quick fix. Other times, my weekend is spent weeding through plugin updates or fumbling with clunky templates.

In either case, I’m happy. I love this stuff. But I’ve acquired a mess of login credentials along the way, and I’m not directly connected to, nor responsible for, any of their hosting resources, so my control over how I can “help” is limited.

In hindsight, I could have easily formalized this system into a side business. Rather than signing my friends and clients up for shared hosting accounts billed by a plethora of providers, I could have become a hosting reseller and managed each of their accounts myself. More money for me, less headache for them — err’ybody wins! Deciding between shared or reseller hosting can get confusing, though, so let’s go over the key differences real quick (in 1,500 words or less).

1. Who Uses Them

Shared and reseller hosting are an easily confused pair. They both entail (for the most part) a singular server being shared by multiple customers. Reseller hosting, as its name suggests, simply adds another layer of ownership in between the website owner(s) and the original server host. The added administrative and server control this gives that middle man or woman is what dictates whether shared or reseller hosting is most useful to you.

Shared hosting is ideal for individuals and business owners who simply need a means of getting their website online. Your host is in control of what resources are allocated to you, and you focus on your site design, email setup, and domain management.

Reseller hosting is great for freelance developers who want to host multiple client sites, serial startup owners who anticipate launching various projects, and/or technical entrepreneurs who want to take on web hosting as their next business venture. Once you purchase a select amount of bandwidth and server resources from a host, you can reallocate those resources to other clients or websites as you see fit. You get greater control over server settings and domains, and you get the added benefits of billing tools since you’re essentially running your own hosting business by reselling your host’s services.

2. cPanel / WHM Control

Both shared and reseller hosting customers are typically given some sort of management panel. Typically, end users get cPanel (shared hosting), and resellers get WHM (reseller hosting).

Most reputable web hosting providers will include a cPanel license in shared hosting plans.

A web hosting control panel, like cPanel, gives users access to management options for domains, email, FTP, SSH users/keys, databases, and backups, as well as some sort of application that lets you download and install other software such as WordPress or Magento.

The majority of hosts will offer a free cPanel license with shared hosting accounts, and this is more than enough to satisfy the typical shared hosting customer. Other popular control panels include Plesk, Webmin, and ISPmanager.

Reseller hosting customers can use cPanel & WHM to manage multiple accounts from one console.

Reseller hosting users get an upgraded flavor of cPanel: cPanel & WHM. The latter part of the name is short for Web Host Manager, and it functions as the billing and hosting account management portal for your hosting business. You can create, change, and manage reseller accounts and admin permissions; set up server alerts; assign custom features to or upgrade or downgrade specific hosting accounts; park domain names; generate and install SSL certificates; and limit bandwidth usage by your clients, among other capabilities.

3. Number of Sites You Can Host

For the most part, shared hosting users can host one website on a basic plan. Some hosts, such as InMotion, will allow you to host unlimited websites on a single account. Others will allow it, but at a premium rate, and some limit one website per account.

In case it wasn’t obvious, reseller hosting users can host more than one site. For the most part, you can reallocate resources however you see fit, so long as you don’t cause issues for your host such as I/O or CPU bottlenecking.

Resellers get the added perks of personal nameservers, which streamline the management intricacies of hosting multiple websites. A nameserver is a computer that translates domain names into IP addresses and vice versa. Without nameservers, you’d have to type in a 10-digit code to reach your favorite website. Domain names are much more memorable, and nameservers allow us to use them to navigate the web. Personal nameservers give you greater control over your domain and your clients’ domain names, which can become associated with your main domain, simplifying management a whole bunch.

4. Performance / Security

Shared hosting comes with a central risk and reward. You’re sharing server resources, including bandwidth, storage, RAM — and the responsibility of all of your server neighbors’ sites. If one of their sites becomes compromised, your site is susceptible to the same fate.

That being said, shared hosting means there is a finite number of resources available to be dispersed between customers. Although shared hosts often promise unlimited or unmetered resources, that’s not technically true. Those hosts know, however, that most shared server customers won’t come anywhere near those limits, so it’s a nice marketing ploy. When you do start to outgrow the shared hosting environment, the best hosts are great about welcoming you into the worlds of VPS and dedicated hosting options.

Although shared hosting provides more than enough performance for the average site owner, and it is inherently safe, folks looking to host multiple websites would probably do better with a reseller hosting plan.

5. Price

It should come as no surprise that the added server resources, control, and business opportunities that come with reseller hosting bump the price up a notch or two from the shared hosting ballpark. Shared hosting typically costs users $2 to $10 per month; whereas reseller hosting may start at the $10 to $20 monthly rate. That monthly cost does not factor in your monthly profits as a reseller of hosting services.

Shared Hosting vs. Reseller Hosting – Top Hosts for Each

Now that we’ve declared the similarities and differences of these two hosting types, let’s compare hosts. Next up: The best of the best providers and plans in shared and reseller web hosting.

3 Best Shared Hosting Services

We’ve reviewed tons of shared hosting providers, both personally and in our day jobs at HostingAdvice.com. We advise prospective shared hosting customers to look for free domains, easy site-building options, and marketing incentives. And don’t underestimate the significance of support ratings and uptime guarantees! Without further ado, check out the top shared hosts:

SHARED RATING
★★★★★ 5.0/5.0
  • Known for high-performance, low-cost shared hosting
  • FREE website builder with 1,000s of templates
  • Endorsed by the WordPress.org team as a top WP host
(read more)
Starting Price/Mo. $2.95
Money Back Guarantee 30 days
Disk Space Unlimited
Domain Name FREE (1 year)
Shared Hosting Plans www.bluehost.com/shared
Our Expert's Bluehost Review
If you’re looking for an affordable host, Bluehost is a solid, reputable choice, but their low cost coupled with their supremacy in the shared hosting arena is what makes this provider such a value deal. The Bluehost name is listed toward the top of many of... read more + If you’re looking for an affordable host, Bluehost is a solid, reputable choice, but their low cost coupled with their supremacy in the shared hosting arena is what makes this provider such a value deal. The Bluehost name is listed toward the top of many of our reviews categories, and with good reason. They offer excellent hardware configurations, a generous list of extras, and fantastic support and reliability — all at a price point that’s, generally, lower than the competition.The speed and performance result from very modern hardware and a global content delivery network. They also offer nearly unlimited everything, including storage, emails, and bandwidth, and many other perks. For example, they include a free domain and marketing credits to get your site off the ground — adding to their value.We rank Bluehost at or near the top for their WordPress, VPS, and dedicated options and if those fit your needs, please check them out. You’ll be happy to note their incredibly competitive pricing across the board.We are convinced Bluehost has the goods to meet your hosting needs today and in the future, but more importantly, they are too. They offer a 30-day money-back guarantee should you become dissatisfied with any of their plans for any reason; however, we’re willing to bet you won’t be. collapse info -
SHARED RATING
★★★★★ 4.8/5.0
  • An industry-leading shared host with competitive pricing
  • Attract visitors with a complimentary marketing suite
  • $500 in extras like Google AdWords and SiteLock security
(read more)
Starting Price/Mo. $1.99
Money Back Guarantee 30 days
Disk Space Unlimited
Domain Name FREE (1 year)
Shared Hosting Plans www.ipage.com/shared
Our Expert's iPage Review
Whether you're a first-time website owner or a web veteran, iPage’s excellent hosting services and fantastic list of extras make them one of the best values in web hosting.Unlimited disk space, bandwidth, and emails are just a part of what makes iPage’s... read more + Whether you're a first-time website owner or a web veteran, iPage’s excellent hosting services and fantastic list of extras make them one of the best values in web hosting.Unlimited disk space, bandwidth, and emails are just a part of what makes iPage’s shared hosting plans a great deal. They offer very good "suites" of extras focusing on web hosting necessities like security, marketing, and support.If you don’t yet have a site, they include a free domain and website builder to get you rolling quickly. We especially love their inclusion of eCommerce templates and online shopping carts for the same low price.Support is one factor that’s very important to us, as it should be to you. For customer support, iPage has US-based phone, email, and chat available 24/7. For the DIY crowd, they also have an extensive list of tutorials and helpful documents.One of the very best budget web hosts out there, iPage offers great hosting features and server performance for a low price. If you are searching for a cheap, reliable web host, iPage should definitely be near the top of your list. collapse info -
SHARED RATING
★★★★★ 4.8/5.0
  • A favorite for shared hosting (and dedicated or cloud)
  • FREE SSD storage packs 20x the performance
  • FREE SSL certificate and 24/7 support
(read more)
Starting Price/Mo. $2.95
Money Back Guarantee 90 days
Disk Space Unlimited
Domain Name FREE (1 year)
Shared Hosting Plans www.inmotion.com/shared
Our Expert's InMotion Review
InMotion offers an excellent business-class shared hosting plan. While carrying a higher price tag than other cheap hosts, it has a very nice list of features to help justify the extra cost. For the IT crowd in the audience, you’ll appreciate SSH access, as... read more + InMotion offers an excellent business-class shared hosting plan. While carrying a higher price tag than other cheap hosts, it has a very nice list of features to help justify the extra cost. For the IT crowd in the audience, you’ll appreciate SSH access, as well as support for PHP, Ruby, Perl, Python, WP-CLI, and other popular languages. You’ll also appreciate the 20-times faster speed, which comes from all-SSD storage and your choice of datacenter locations. You needn’t worry about data security as InMotion plans include data backups.For the rest of us, we can appreciate the convenience of the free website transfers and 24/7 US-based support. A free domain and website builder with eCommerce support are also appealing.The overall package and business-class hardware make InMotion’s shared hosting a great choice for businesses or those looking for a little higher-end hardware. And, as one of the few remaining independently owned hosting providers left on the market, InMotion has taken every effort to remain cost-competitive. collapse info -

See more shared hosting plans »

3 Best Reseller Hosting Services

As we move along to the top reseller hosting providers, you may notice some familiar faces. We’ve found the best hosts overall boast a myriad of services, included shared, reseller, managed, and application-specific hosting.

As we conducted our comprehensive reviews, we assessed pricing, storage, management options, and monitoring features, as well as the reliability factor we emphasized for shared hosting customers. You can trust the hosts below to help you launch your own web hosting biz:

RESELLER RATING
★★★★★ 4.9/5.0
  • SSD reseller hosting with FREE cPanel/WHM access
  • Keep your reseller web hosting biz organized with WHMCS
  • FREE dedicated IP and site backups
(read more)
Starting Price/Mo. $13.99
Money Back Guarantee 90 days
Disk Space 80 GB - 160 GB
Domain Name FREE (1 year)
Reseller Hosting Plans www.inmotionhosting.com/reseller
Our Expert's InMotion Review
InMotion offers cPanel reseller hosting that’s affordable, easy to manage, and includes free SSDs. Become a domain reseller for popular gTLDs and TLDs with a free eNom license and WHMCS to manage your accounts. They offer 24/7 support… read more + InMotion offers cPanel reseller hosting that’s affordable, easy to manage, and includes free SSDs. Become a domain reseller for popular gTLDs and TLDs with a free eNom license and WHMCS to manage your accounts. They offer 24/7 support… collapse info -
RESELLER RATING
★★★★★ 4.9/5.0
  • Unlimited reseller hosting plans for Linux or Windows
  • FREE eNom account to manage unlimited websites
  • Server rewind backups and up to 2,000GB of data transfer
(read more)
Starting Price/Mo. $13.19
Money Back Guarantee Anytime
Disk Space 30 GB - 200 GB
Domain Name Unlimited
Reseller Hosting Plans www.a2hosting.com/reseller
Our Expert's A2 Hosting Review
A2 Hosting provides some of the most appealing reseller hosting deals on the market — particularly in this new crazy of “unlimited” reseller hosting. Choose to resell Linux or Windows hosting services, and enjoy free eNom, cPanel, and WHMCS... read more + A2 Hosting provides some of the most appealing reseller hosting deals on the market — particularly in this new crazy of “unlimited” reseller hosting. Choose to resell Linux or Windows hosting services, and enjoy free eNom, cPanel, and WHMCS accounts to get your business started… collapse info -
RESELLER RATING
★★★★★ 4.8/5.0
  • Start your own company with cPanel reseller hosting
  • Unlimited domains, emails, and MySQL databases
  • 99.9% uptime guarantee and 400+ tutorials for your clients
(read more)
Starting Price/Mo. $19.95
Money Back Guarantee 45 days
Disk Space 60 GB - 140 GB
Domain Name $12.95/year
Reseller Hosting Plans www.hostgator.com/reseller
Our Expert's HostGator Review
HostGator offers some of the industry’s best reseller hosting plans, with WHMCS included for your management purposes, as well as cPanel for your customers. You specify your reseller hosting customers’ packages, disk space, and bandwidth… read more + HostGator offers some of the industry’s best reseller hosting plans, with WHMCS included for your management purposes, as well as cPanel for your customers. You specify your reseller hosting customers’ packages, disk space, and bandwidth… collapse info -

See more reseller hosting plans »

Is Shared or Reseller Web Hosting the Better Call for Your Project?

As is the case when purchasing any other hosting type, the decision to sign up for shared or reseller hosting entirely depends on how you intend to use it and how much control you require.

If it’s just you, your website, and your business, shared hosting will more than suffice. If you’re planning on running multiple sites, or if you have the fate of multiple businesses in your hands as a freelancer, reseller hosting is a worthwhile route to explore. Whichever path you choose, I hope it’s laden with growth and revenue opportunities — because no one takes the time to build an online business to be paid in hugs and happy thoughts, right?

ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Alexandra Leslie

Alexandra Leslie serves as Tech Vertical Manager of Digital Brands Inc, spearheading the charge to deliver technical expertise and thought leadership to our rapidly growing audience of developers, engineers, and website owners here at HostingAdvice. You'll find her engaging with leaders in web hosting and tangentially related industries, enjoying honest discussions of their cutting-edge technologies. She loves getting her hands dirty with comprehensive reviews of popular hosting platforms and services, and she's a die-hard WordPress fan. Alexandra leads the HostingAdvice team with a passion for translating technical jargon into digestible action items anyone can use to build, monetize, and scale a web presence.