You cannot underestimate the importance of good web hosting – even the most engaging websites will lose customers, get lost in search engines and not reach its full potential if it is slow to load and always down.
With so many hosting options available, it can be difficult to know which is right for your business. We’ve created a comprehensive guide to help you find the right web hosting package for your business.
What is web hosting, and why do I need it?
Every website needs to be hosted on a server to be accessible via the internet. Web hosting services or a web hosting company will provide the server and the tools you need to do this.
If your website is constantly down, pages are slow to load, or you suffer security issues because your hosting provision isn’t up to scratch, it could negatively impact your business. So choosing the right type of web hosting service is essential.
What type of web hosting do I need?
What hosting your business needs will depend on factors specific to your type of website and your business objectives. For example, a large website with lots of traffic handling sensitive data will have different requirements to a small blogging site.
Key questions to ask include:
- What type of website do you have – a simple blogging site with a few pages, an ecommerce website, or a marketing website for example?
- Do you have the time and expertise to manage your hosting yourself?
- How large and complex is your website – does it have lots of plugins that need regular updates?
- Are you planning to sell products online?
- Does your website handle sensitive data like credit card details?
- How much traffic do you expect to get?
- Is there a particular operating system or software you want to use?
- Is your website your main selling channel or a marketing site for people to get in touch?
- Do you plan to expand the site in the future?
- What is your budget?
Answering these key questions will help determine your hosting requirements and narrow down your search. Prioritising these considerations may help decision-making later on when you may have to compromise depending on what is most important.
We have pulled together some scenarios based on some of these common questions and what hosting options may work best in each case.
Scenario 1: I don’t have the time or expertise to manage my web hosting
If you can’t manage your web hosting yourself, consider managed hosting.
What is managed web hosting?
Managed hosting means your hosting will be managed for you. Managed hosting packages include hardware and software setup and configuration, maintenance, technical support, bug fixes, security and plugin updates and pro-active monitoring. The hosting company will manage the server, operating system, and any software applications your website has. Managed hosting is an ideal option for businesses that haven’t the time or technical expertise to manage their hosting themselves.
The opposite of Managed Hosting is self-managed hosting, where the responsibility for all the tasks outlined above would fall to you. Obviously, given you are doing a lot of the work, these packages are cheaper than a managed option.
All the hosting options listed below are available with managed or self-managed options.
Scenario 2: I don’t have a huge budget to spend on hosting
If money is the most important consideration when selecting hosting, shared hosting is your best option.
What is shared hosting?
Shared hosting is when your website shares a server and its resources with other websites. All the websites on the server share the server’s memory and CPU, making it one of the most cost-effective hosting options and a good choice for new, smaller websites that don’t expect to generate a lot of traffic.
Disadvantages of shared hosting
However, by sharing the server’s resources, any spikes in usage from the other websites may impact your website’s user experience – for example, slowing your download speed. You also have less control over things like the operating system, backup options, and security.
Scenarios 3: I have a website with lots of traffic
If you are expecting lots of web traffic, you need hosting that can handle it. A good option for you could be Virtual Private Server (VPS) hosting.
What is VPS hosting?
VPS hosting offers you more control than the shared server option, without the price tag of a dedicated server. Multiple websites are hosted on the same physical server, but there are virtual walls around them, so each website has its own private section on the server.
Advantages of VPS web hosting
Each VPS can be customised independently for each website – such as by installing different software or operating systems. You have dedicated memory and storage that you don’t have to share with the other websites and more control over your resources. Spikes in usage from the other websites will not impact your website’s speed and performance. It is also easy to scale up the amount of RAM you need, for example, as your site grows.
Disadvantages of VPS hosting
Although there are many benefits to VPSs, they are harder to set up and manage than shared hosting – so unless you have a managed hosting package (which will be more expensive), you will need the time and technical expertise to make this work.
Scenario 4: My website is critical to my business
If your website is your key selling channel and critical to the success of your business, investing in good quality hosting should be a priority. Any downtime will be expensive, and security issues and slow download speeds could heavily impact your website’s reputation and result in you losing customers. For this reason, dedicated server hosting could be a good option.
What is dedicated server hosting?
Dedicated hosting means that you are renting the whole server, and only your website is on it. Like with a VPS, you have complete control, which means you can set up and customise everything – from the operating system and software to the security features to the backup options you want.
Dedicated hosting is ideal for complex websites with high levels of traffic and those that want complete control over their server. As there is only one company using the server, it is one of the more expensive hosting options available. And managing the server yourself can be time-consuming and require technical skills to do it effectively – especially keeping it up-to-date to avoid any security breaches.
Look at the server uptime rates – this is how much a website will be live. For example, Alberon’s uptime rates are 99.9% which means that the websites we host are live and available 99.9% of the time. You want to minimise any risk to your website’s performance, so investing in a dedicated server could be a good option if you are managing it yourself. But – given the critical nature of your website to your business – the best option is to go for a managed hosting option and have the experts look after it, so you know it is in safe hands.
Scenario 5: I have a seasonal business - I get spikes in traffic
If your web traffic goes up and down, you need your hosting that is flexible enough to meet changing demands. For this reason, cloud hosting maybe a good option.
What is cloud hosting?
Cloud hosting means your website is spread across several servers rather than kept on one physical server. This makes cloud hosting a reliable option as there isn’t one single point of failure. With cloud hosting, you typically pay for the CPU, memory, bandwidth and storage that you use, which can scale as needed, rather than committing to a fixed amount of each. Particularly useful if you have times of the month or year when you experience spikes in traffic.
Scenario 6: I have a complex website with lots of plugins
If you have lots of additional plugins, they will require regular updates to continue receiving the most up-to-date functionality and to remain secure and compatible with your website. Out-of-date plugins can pose a security risk and mean you won’t benefit from new features.
If you decide to manage your own hosting, you will be required to manage and maintain these plugins and make sure that you thoroughly test the updates to make sure everything on your website continues to work. If you don’t have the time or expertise to do this, you should consider managed hosting.
Find a hosting package that will manage and maintain your plugins, and thoroughly test the updates on a testing site before making them live to minimise any errors.
Scenario 7: I have an ecommerce website that handles personal data
If you have an ecommerce website or any website that is handling personal data, then under GDPR you are required to have strong security measures in place to ensure that you are safeguarding your customer data.
What sort of security features does the hosting package have in place? How do they maintain the security, and what policies do they have in place in case of a breach? Understanding what security measures are in place is vital to maintaining a secure website.
This becomes even more significant if you’re managing the hosting and the security yourself. If you don’t have the time or expertise to manage the security updates yourself, you should consider getting a Managed hosting package.
Get in Touch
These are just a few possible scenarios and given the impact web hosting can have on your business, it is wise to get some expert advice when deciding which hosting works for your business.
Alberon offers comprehensive managed web hosting packages that are flexible enough to suit the needs of any business. If you need any help or advice on which hosting would work for your business – we are happy to help. Get in touch to speak with a member of our team today.