01 Sep Comparing website hosting for small business
Comparing Website Hosting Options for Small Business
Deciding on a hosting plan for your small business website can be tough. I want to help you understand what hosting options are available, what their differences are and which hosting companies are worth looking into for web hosting services.
Most of the starter hosting plans are going to be your most economic choice. They run on what’s called a shared server. What this means is that your site will live on a web server (i.e. hard drive for websites) that has upwards of 5 to 10 other sites on the same server sharing the resources. Below are some pros and cons to help you decide if shared hosting is a good fit for your small business website.
Pros of having shared hosting:
Price: This type of hosting plan will be your cheapest option because you are sharing the server’s resources. It is a great way to get your business online with little cost.
Server Management: There is little to no maintenance on your part, all of that is handled by the hosting company.
Customer Support: Most reputable hosting providers have 24/7 support for you to call when you have issues with your site, in which they can help diagnose it with you.
Tiered Plans: There are different levels within shared hosting. This means that you can still be in a shared server but have more resources dedicated to your site. These upper-level plans are typically what I recommend for most small businesses that are starting out.
Cons of having shared hosting:
Downtime: Being that your site is on a shared server with a shared IP address, your site is more vulnerable to downtime. If another site on the server is hacked then your site has the potential to be down, while the issue is getting resolved.
Lack of Resources: The server resources (i.e. ram, storage, bandwidth, etc..) are being dispersed between all the sites on that server. Therefore, your site will have limitations on speed, space, and functionality.
Obnoxious Upselling: If you choose to be on the bottom tier of the hosting totem, then you can expect some hosting companies to upsell you on all the additional services available. This can become confusing and obnoxious at the same time. Keep reading to find out what I believe some of the “must-have features” are, that will help to make your site run well.
Virtual Private Server (VPS). This hosting environment is a solution for small business owners with an established online presence, or the intent to scale the use and functionality of their website up. VPS is a mid-level solution that provides small business owners with more control over their own server environment without having to purchase their own server.
VPS hosting is similar to shared hosting, in that there are fewer clients sharing one server. However, the server has been partitioned into “private” sections so each owner can customize their partition as needed.
Pros of having VPS hosting
Customization – Due to the fact that you have your own partition on a server you are able to allocate your own server-resources as needed.
Flexibility – In most cases you have the ability to load your desired OS and other server software that will allow you to optimize your private hosting environment. This allows for you to scale your website on your own time.
Customer Support – You will not be left alone in the area of support. Most web hosting companies help to manage your VPS service. You will be able to have them troubleshoot common issues. Most hosting companies will have a knowledge base of articles and support ticket system.
VPS Hosting – It provides the benefits of a dedicated server environment without having to pay a more premium price.
Cons of having a VPS environment
Not for everyone – Managing a VPS environment will require some knowledge. There will be a learning curve to perform the necessary customizations to your private server.
Pay for management – If you lack the knowledge it takes to set up and manage VPS hosting, or you are too busy running your business, then you will need to hire someone.
The price may not be right – You will pay a significant amount more than your entry-level shared hosting plans. VPS hosting is more expensive due to the number of resources and flexibility you have allotted.
A dedicated hosting environment is a top-tier hosting solution. It is also your most expensive option as well. You are either purchasing the hardware and managing it yourself or renting it from a hosting company and self-managing the server. A dedicated environment is exactly what it sounds like: dedicated. You have complete control over the hardware, software, and how it is being used.
Pros of having dedicated hosting:
Optimum Performance – Having a dedicated server environment allows you the ability to dictate which server resources will be allotted to which site. If you are only managing one site then it will have plenty to run at optimum speeds.
Optimum Security – Your dedicated server allows you to install and protect against malicious attacks. You can determine what security measures need to be taken to keep your site and data safe.
Manage Multiple Sites – There may be more than enough resources on your server that if you decide to run a few separate sites, you have the ability to do that. It would be similar to a VPS environment, but you divvy up the server resources.
Flexible Configuration – Much like a VPS environment, you have the ability to choose your server’s operating system (OS), which additional software is needed to optimize the performance of your site(s), and how the server-resources are to be dispersed.
Location – If renting a dedicated server from a hosting company, you may be able to choose the physical location of your server to be closer to you prime demographic if they happen to be in a different geographic location than your business.
Cons of dedicated hosting:
High Maintenance – Due to the sheer complexity of a dedicated hosting environment, you’re going to need to higher someone to manage the server activity, security, software, and hardware maintenance.
Skilled Tech Support – Most dedicated servers will require one or more dedicated employees to manage the server.
Higher Cost – You get what you pay for! This may be the most expensive option. However, you will be able to rest assured that you have full control of your website’s hosting environment!
Must-Have Hosting Features
Most small businesses will opt for the more cost-effective solution to avoid hurt their bottom line. Keep in mind that the more economic options within the shared hosting plans don’t offer some of what I would sare are necessary features. Below is a list of some of my “must-have features,” for shared hosting plans.
SSL Certificate – SSL Certificate is a “Secure Sockets Layer.” This encrypts the data that is transferred between your web server and the web browser. This has become an industry standard, so much so that Google requires it if you want to improve your SEO Ranking. Most shared hosting plans offer a free SSL certificate. However, you generally have to ask that they install it after you purchase your hosting plan.
Site Backups – Backing up your site, simply put, it is just good practice. WordPress instructs you to make sure you back up your site before any updates or major changes. Site backup services should be offered as an add-on service by your shared hosting provider and I would say that it is worth every penny! There are WordPress plugins that can backup your site as well and are reliable. However, I prefer to do site backups at the root level. Meaning, I make sure my hosting provider keeps weekly and monthly backups of my site.
Domain Privacy – This feature allows you to keep your registration information protected. Let me explain. When you purchase domain privacy your hosting company will put their contact information in place of yours on the public record. If you don’t pay for this feature, the contact info you use to register the domain or have on your hosting account will be available to the public. Information such as; Name, Email Address, Phone Number, Address, and more will be exposed, if you don’t have domain privacy.
Dedicated IP – If your site lives on a “shared server” you can purchase a dedicated IP address. What this does is separates your site from all the others on the server. You are still sharing the server resources. However, if another site on the server is attacked your site will not be affected because it has a different IP address than the affected site. This will increase the uptime of your site.
Trusted Hosting Providers
Full Disclosure: I have built WordPress sites for over 8 years now and have had the opportunity to work with different hosting companies. I would encourage you to do your own research on which is going to be the best fit for your small business website. Below is a list of trusted hosting providers that is a good place for you to start looking.
I hope that this article has helped answer some of the questions you have about hosting. However, if you have questions that were not answered please leave a comment below. If you would like to discuss in further detail which hosting service would be a good fit for your business please feel free to call for a free consultation.