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Alternatives to add-on domains: if add on domains are not for you

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A basic shared web hosting account from a reputable hosting company that lets you host 100 or more domains for under $10 a month sounds wonderful! However, it’s important to know these domains are typically handled as add-on domains. I explained how this works in another post here, so I won’t go into that here.

Add-on domains can certainly be an affordable way to get started developing a bunch of your domains. But they also come with security and privacy risks that I have outlined in that post. Add-on domains are not “bad”: they’re perfectly legitimate for hosting multiple sites – you have to decide whether you want to take on some of those risks that they come with.

Add-on domains could be right for the developer with basic content sites, no e-commerce or sensitive information, no privacy concerns and who consistently maintains up-to-date security on all sites. Even then, there is no one-size-fits-all answer to this. A lot comes down to personal preference, risk tolerance, and budget.

If add-on domains are not for you, here are some alternatives:

1. Reseller hosting

Reseller packages come with a higher monthly price tag than regular shared hosting plans, but with reseller plans each site is “ringfenced off” with its own cPanel and not connected in the same intimate way that add-on domains are.

Many web hosts offer several different reseller hosting packages depending on how many accounts (cPanels and domains) you want, so you should be able to find something to suit your needs. We recommend the reseller packages from SiteGround and A2 Hosting.

2. Two separate shared hosting accounts

If you’re in the situation where only one site needs to be ringfenced but the rest don’t (e.g. you have an e-commerce site you want separated out from the rest of your portfolio), consider using more than one account or more than one host.

In that situation you could get a single-domain shared hosting plan with the e-commerce account; go with add-on domains for the remainder of your domains. If you do this via two different web hosts this may make sense anyway by not having all your eggs in one basket. Purchasing two low-cost shared hosting plans can cost less than a reseller plan.

If you're going with this approach, we highly recommend the most basic level of shared hosting at People's Host for one of your accounts, because you can host multiple domains on it. Most other hosts require you to upgrade above the most basic level of shared hosting before they'll let you host more than one domain on it.

3. If you’re developing more sites than in a typical reseller plan…

If you have more than one site requiring additional security, another combo could that of both 1 and 2 above: a shared hosting plan with add-on domains for those sites which are less critical, plus a reseller account in the case of those domains which require greater security.

This way you won’t be stuck with a large monthly reseller account bill for a very high number of separate cPanels / domains. You’ll only be using reseller for the domains which really need it; the rest can be on shared hosting with add-on domains.

4. VPS

A VPS (virtual private server) is a big step up from shared hosting or reseller hosting. You'll be able to host multiple domains and you can set them up so they're isolated from each other. However, you really need a lot more know-how for this; it's not well suited to a beginner. The tasks that your web host would normally handle on shared hosting are expected to fall to you on a VPS. It'll also typically cost a lot more. So, unless you know what you're doing with multiple domains on a VPS, we suggest selecting one of the first 3 options above. If you do plan on a VPS, we recommend the managed VPS from A2 Hosting - it's excellent value for money and it comes with cPanel bundled in.

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Would you like to make your own website as a neat side-gig that you can do on evenings and/or weekends? If so, we have a tutorial for you, and it's about how to make a choice of several types of websites. You don't need to blog if that's not you! How about a social network, Q & A site, or forum? Check out our beginner's illustrated tutorial for how to get started making your choice of sites.

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