Signing on with a Web Hosting Company
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This week we’re going to take a break from planning your website’s message and design, to focus on some important technical issues.
Just as files are stored on your personal computer, every website must be stored on a computer on the Internet. You need to purchase this service from a hosting company – think of it as renting a home for your website. Hosting can range from free to hundreds of dollars per month, so it’s important to make an informed decision.
As the saying goes, “There’s no such thing as a free lunch,” so remember that if you opt for free hosting.
The company supplying the hosting is not doing it out of the goodness of their hearts, so if you, the customer, are not paying for it, the costs are usually covered by allowing advertisers to place ads on your site. Even if you’re comfortable having ads on your site, visitors to your website may assume that you endorse the products or services being promoted, even though you have no control over the content of these ads.
Most solo entrepreneurs with a basic website can get by with an inexpensive shared hosting account.
Shared hosting is usually under $10.00 a month, even less if you pay for a full year or multiple years in advance. If price is the most important factor, shared hosting is the way to go. It’s so inexpensive because you share a server with a few hundred (or several thousand) other small sites.
The trouble with shared hosting is that some service providers, in an effort to increase their profits, try to host too many sites on the same server. As a result, your pages may be very slow to load, and visitors might not bother to stick around. Slow load times can also have a negative effect on your search engine ranking. Furthermore, it’s frustrating to have to wait for pages to refresh when you’re working on a blog post or other update to your website!
In addition, you have no way of knowing who you’re sharing that hosting space with, and there’s a risk that your site may be flagged as a security risk due to the activities of other users.
Virtual Private Server
A Virtual Private Server, or VPS, is also a type of shared server, but you only share it with a few other sites, rather than hundreds. It can therefore handle higher loads of traffic, and you have more server resources and more control.
Of course, you’ll pay a bit more, probably between $20.00 and $100 per month. A VPS can handle significant traffic, but if you or one of your neighbors experiences a sudden increase in traffic, the server may run out of processing power, and your site’s performance will drop.
With a VPS, you’re responsible for your own security measures, so it’s not recommended unless you’re really tech savvy. If your site gets hacked or goes down, the support desk won’t be able to offer much assistance if you haven’t been backing up your site regularly.
VPS hosting is available through many reputable web hosting services.
Dedicated servers give you a whole server, or even several, to work with. For that reason, they’re even more expensive than a VPS.
Dedicating hosting gives you absolute control over all the technical aspects of hosting your sites, so you’ll need to have access to a highly trained tech person who knows their way around a MySQL database and how to maintain your security protocol and firewall. This is probably a lot more power than you need for your small business website.
Managed WordPress Hosting
Most web hosts can handle WordPress, some better than others. But if you want the best hosting solution for your WordPress site, it’s worth looking into Managed WordPress Hosting. This elite breed of hosting is the top of the line for speed and scalability. In addition, the hosting company automatically updates WordPress when the latest version is released – one less thing for you to worry about!
I tried out a couple of different Managed WordPress Hosting services a few years ago and wasn’t all that impressed. Then I received a complimentary account with WP Engine at WordCamp Toronto, and I love it so much that I now use it for all of my own WordPress sites, and have recommended it to several of my clients.
Not only does my site run faster, it’s reassuring to know that the site can handle the traffic and that WP Engine is running nightly backups as well as looking after the WordPress updates. Apparently they’re the only Managed Host to offer a security guarantee!
Hosting plans with WP Engine cost quite a bit more than shared hosting, but if you can afford it, you certainly get what you pay for. I’ll explain more about my own experiences in a future post, but don’t hesitate to contact me if you have any questions.
Have you dealt with a great hosting company, or a really bad one? Please share your experience in the comments!