Is your Website Hosting Good Enough?
What’s the Cadillac of Website Hosting?
and do you need it?
We all love shopping for cars don’t we?
The endless options, the deceptive prices, the peering eyes of salesmen when you walk into a dealership…
Shopping for hosting seems a bit less daunting to most small business owners, but it’s critical to realize that web hosting is not a commodity. There are different levels of quality for hosting just like there are Hondas and Maseratis in the car market. The main questions when purchasing small business website hosting are…
What level quality do you need? -and- How much are you willing to pay for?
Types of Small Business Website Hosting?
There are a ton of car options to choose from…
- Make (Chevy, Kia, Mercedez Benz, etc.)
- Type (SUV, Sedan, Truck, etc.)
- etc etc.
There aren’t AS MANY options with hosting but there ARE options.
This is an important point to drive home because so many people just purchase the cheapest hosting from the first provider they find. These unsuspecting website owners often pay the price later when their website is down and they cannot get any support from the questionable company where they purchased it.
First, let me describe the hosting most people use. Then I’ll mention the upgrade options that few people take advantage of or even know about.
Shared Hosting – Website Hosting for the Masses
Continuing with the car analogy, shared website hosting is comparable to the economy category of the car market. Think Ford Focus, Honda Civic, etc.
Websites are stored on web servers which are basically computers designed for the specific purpose of serving websites to the internet. When you purchase website hosting, you are renting space on one of these servers to store your website and serve it to the public. If you want to read more about the details of what website hosting is, read this first and come back to this post.
The most common type of web hosting is Shared hosting sold through large companies like Hostgator, Bluehost, and Godaddy. You can get a shared hosting plan for a few dollars per month and the reason the plans are dirt cheap is that hundreds or thousands of customers are packed onto one server.
It’s not uncommon for a shared hosting server to have 500-2000 website clients running on it.
Before you start a petition or go write a negative review, understand that these servers are designed to handle a large number of clients. The conundrum is this – during peak traffic times or coincidental times of many websites pushing loads on the server at the same time, shared hosting servers tend to experience major slow-downs.
If you’ve had your site hosted on a shared server, you’ve probably experienced this for yourself. Usually this happens during a typical work day or a atypical weekday evening where there is nothing good on TV and people are working on their websites and browsing the web.
Below is my server load on a Hostgator shared hosting plan. The “Server load” and “Memory used” are two numbers I pay attention to. I’ll be monitoring it and will post other stats from time to time for busy times, holidays, etc. to show you the load swings that are typical of shared hosting
When I was on a shared server, there were times I would literally schedule my work so that I was not doing significant work during peak times because I knew it would take twice as long for pages to load. This usually meant I would tackle the bulk of my work early in the morning or late at night.
There’s no way to get around this slow website problem with shared hosting. It’s just the nature of the business and an example of “you get what you pay for.” You can do your homework and stick with higher quality hosting companies that don’t overcrowd their servers, but you never know for sure.
If you have a shared hosting plan currently, you can see SOME of the websites sharing your IP address using this website. (To find out the IP address of your server first, go here.) Keep in mind there can be multiple IP addresses for a server so this doesn’t necessarily show how many total websites are on your server. But you know it’s at LEAST this many sites, and probably multiplied by 2-4 times.
The most popular types of website hosting currently offered are:
Free hosting – usually on a subdomain like webeminence.wordress.com or webeminence.weebly.com, not recommended if you’re building a website for business purposes
Shared hosting – This is what most people purchase and I talked about it in detail above. It’s usually under $10/month
Virtual Private Server (VPS) – This type of hosting uses shared resources just like shared hosting, so you can still experience slow-downs. The benefit is you have root access to the server, so you can customize your hosting the way you want. This probably isn’t necessary for most small business owners who don’t know the first thing about web servers. VPS accounts are usually hosted on servers with higher specs so that is an added benefit. Cost of VPS hosting accounts are typically around $50-100/month.
Dedicated Server – Dedicated servers can cost $100-$500+ per month depending on the server specs. This is often the same type of server used for shared hosting & VPS, but you’re paying to have the server all to yourself. So you can purchase dedicated server hosting and know that server is dedicated to running your website and nothing else. No more slow-downs unless you cause them yourself. You also get root access to the server to customize it the way you wish, similar to VPS.
Cloud Hosting – Cloud hosting is a new entrant in the market in recent years. You hear “the cloud” talked about often, but contrary to popular belief, it’s nothing like a fluffy cloud. It’s essentially the same physical architecture that is common in other forms of hosting – think rows and rows of server racks. But rather than each server operating on its own, with a cloud they are all interconnected and share resources. The benefit of hosting in a cloud environment is if one server gets overloaded, resources of other servers are utilized automatically. So naturally, up-time and scalability are both major selling points of cloud hosting.
Cloud can be cheaper than dedicated server hosting in many circumstances, but you may also end up over-paying for certain performance you don’t need.. In my opinion, cloud hosting is a professional option and is probably best suited for websites and companies planning to scale quickly. It’s probably not necessary for most small business websites.
Will Shared Hosting Work for my Small Business?
Again, most people go with shared hosting because it’s cheap and usually the first option they uncover. It’s not the best option, but it will work for most small business websites. You can always upgrade in the future too.
There are many hosting companies offering shared hosting, but they are not all equal. They will vary on their technology and customer support. Two hosting companies that I’ve used myself and consistently rank well are BlueHost and HostGator.
Disclaimer: Those two links are affiliate links so I will receive a commission if you choose to purchase hosting from these companies. Just being honest 🙂 I wouldn’t recommend them if I hadn’t used them myself though. I’ve used Hostgator for over 15 years.
Do I Need Higher End Hosting?
Why do people spend more on a Range Rover, Mercedez Benz, or Maserati?
Performance? Status? Unlimited Cash?
While I wouldn’t recommend purchasing higher-end hosting as a status symbol, the other reasons above are excellent motivations to upgrade your hosting. Performance, in particular is the top reason to increase your budget. And if budget is not an issue, then making the leap to professional hosting is a no-brainer.
Here are some common reasons for a small business to get upgraded website hosting:
- Working on website often and tired of the slow downs of shared hosting
- Getting decent traffic (hundreds or thousands of unique visitors daily)
- Want to improve page speed
- Have the technical knowledge AND the need to customize the server
- Your website uses a lot of storage and bandwidth and you’ve maxed out your shared hosting quotas
The Hosting I Chose For My Website and My Clients
I’ve used shared hosting for years and it’s adequate for the majority of websites. In 2014, I upgraded to a dedicated server managed by VerticalSwitch.com.
My website gets moderate traffic, but I wanted to improve the speed for my visitors and also decrease load times when working on the server since I’m on it several hours per day building and modifying client websites.
I’m planning to host about 200 websites for small business clients through my Complete Website Package. As an added value to my 200 clients, they are hosted on my dedicated server and reap the benefits of dedicated hosting without the high cost.
My dedicated server has a market value of around $300/month so this is a tremendous value for my clients.
The technical specs of my server are much higher than an average server you’d get from a reputable shared hosting company, and my clients can be assured that I’ll never have many more than 200 clients on the server at one time.
If you’re interested in getting your website built by me and hosted on my dedicated server as one of my 200 clients, get in touch with me.
Hosting Questions – Get Free Help
Hosting is not “one size fits all”. The best hosting option for you and your business really depends on your specific situation.
Need help deciding where to host your website?
Having trouble evaluating your current hosting company or evening figuring out who is hosting your website?
I’m here and happy to help. Contact me or use the chat box below to get some assistance.
[tweetthis]Ryan @WebEminence is helping me with website hosting[/tweetthis]
Inside of Web Server By arichnad (Own work), via Wikimedia Commons