Imagine buying a brand new car. Shiny. Glistening. Perfection. And then picture it parked on the street, at night, with the windows rolled down. Does this seem wise to you? Will you sleep well at night? When you pick a web hosting company you’re buying storage for the single most important facet of your online business. You want it to be secure. You want it to be safe. Don’t skimp or dismiss how important this decision will be.
Where should I host my website?
I get asked questions on a frequent basis. Usually on Facebook from friends thinking that this whole ‘internet thing’ is easy and want to launch a website and want to know where to host it.
Good on them for attempting the American dream. Here’s my advice:
Don’t be cheap
One of the first things you need to do when you build a website is to find a place to host it. Does it matter which hosting company?
In a nutshell: Hell, yes.
There are thousands of hosts out there. Weeding through them is tough. If you’re looking at price alone – as in the cheapest – you really need to ask yourself, ‘Do I want to launch my potential billion dollar business using the cheapest storage space as possible?’.
That’s like investing in a Jaguar and putting Walmart tires on it to save a buck.
Shady hosting ain’t cool, or good for business
I mean, think about it. Would you go to the shadiest neighborhood in your town, rent a storage unit, and put your most prized possessions in there? For years? Would you not expect a late night phone call from the police at some point?
Sure. It may not get broken into the first night. Maybe not even the first month.
But are you willing to take the chance that it won’t? Ever?
Not this girl. No. I want the foundation of my business in the safest, most secure spot I can find because I don’t want to lose my site in the middle of the night to some Russian hackers. That doesn’t mean I want to spend a fortune, but I would certainly ask people who know best where they think I should go.
Why in the hot depths of Hades would someone go cheap with a host and not ask around first? Don’t ask me, but they do. And they also cry, whine and speak in tongues when the sucker gets hacked.
Hey. I tried to warn you.
Some hosts have bad reputations
Insisting and telling your web developer which host to use is also a recipe for disaster. I’ll be frank. You’re not the expert.
Professional web developers hang out with other professional web developers. We swap stories (and nightmares) about our equipment, our software, and hosting companies. We share this information because we don’t want others to have to live through the nightmares we’ve encountered.
Hosting companies get lauded and praised. We flock to those with the best reputations.
Hosting companies get flamed and broiled. We run from those with the worst reputations – and we take our clients with us.
The last thing a good web developer wants is to put our client’s lifeblood – their business – on a host that will fail them someday in spectacular fashion. No one wants a site to crash and burn. Ever. But it has happened to me. (Oh, old Communitech, how I loathe thee.) And all of my clients. And it’s a freakin’ nightmare.
So when my colleagues say to run, I listen. If I hear of buyouts by the wrong people, I listen.
A well-known company in the web hosting world has bought out, devoured, destroyed, and ruined some very good, but small, hosting providers. I now avoid them. I won’t use them. And if a client insists on using a hosting company now owned by this well known company, then we’re not the right fit for each other. I won’t take on a project that’s destined for heartache.
Paying too much for hosting sucks too
On the flip side, I hate paying 400% more for a ‘brand’ for perceived value when it just isn’t there. There are a ton of web hosts out there with fantastic reputations that, by and large, don’t provide any more security or service than their less expensive (but just as great) counterparts but charge a flipping fortune.
Again, not this girl. I don’t see the value in paying more for a brand name.
The Goldilocks web hosting option
So what web hosts are good, but not expensive, and have a solid reputation?
As with everything, it depends on the services you need. Do you need hosted email? SSL certificates? A stand alone IP address? Backup services? Built in security? Shared server or a virtual private server?
What you want is a solution that is right for your business.
Traffic is a factor. The number of simultaneous site visitors put strain on the server. Can the plan you purchase handle the load?
Speed is another. How fast will the server load your website. Users hate to wait, and Google penalizes ranking factors for slow sites.
Shared servers and virtual private servers are another factor. Do you share your space with other, maybe less secure and less optimized, websites? Or are each accounts contained in their own little bubble?
[click_to_tweet tweet=”Does it matter where you host your website? Yes. Yes, it does. Picking and choosing a web host must involve looking at all aspects of your business, your customers, and your future growth.” quote=”Picking and choosing a web host must involve looking at all aspects of your business, your customers, and your future growth.”]
Talk to a professional web developer
Before you make decisions on where to place your business online, talk with a web developer. See who they use and ask them why. If they mention Hostgator or Go Daddy or one owned by EIG, RUN FOR THEM THAR HILLS!
Remember that shady neighborhood?
Don’t go there.
Save your sanity.
The web hosts I use
Siteground is a shared server environment on a cloud platform. They have super fast cloud servers, are extremely diligent with security, and have exemplary tech support. That tech support is a HUGE factor to weigh in when picking a web host. Why? Because they’re the guys who will be saving your bacon at 3:00 am before your big client meeting, that’s why.
The other host I highly recommend is Flywheel. They have Virtual Private Servers, meaning you don’t share your space with other sites, and they take care of all your caching, backups and security. Flywheel sites are usually faster than a shared server environment, and they have exceptional customer support. I cannot state the importance of support enough. It matters.
But money is tight
Cost is a factor. I know. I get it. While I hate to hear someone go cheap on their business needs, I really DO get it. Both Flywheel and Siteground are very reasonably priced. Especially for the services provided. On average you’re looking at around $12 to $25 a month, and baby when it comes to hosting, that’s a bargain. Especially for the services provided. (Yes, I repeated myself.)
Over the last 20+ years, I’ve seen a lot of web hosts come and go, or worse, be taken down by a buyout. Once reputable hosting companies can be obliterated overnight simply with a buyout by the wrong people.
My host does all that maintenance so I can save more money
When you hire a professional web developer, you’re hiring them for their expertise. Knowledge. Experience. ‘Been there, done that’ school of hard knocks.
I can’t speak for everyone of in the web dev world, but I’ve been in this business a very long time. Like, since before Google bought their domain name. I’ve seen a lot of web hosts come and go. I’ve worked with small startups and big conglomerates. I’m leery of hosting companies. I’ve been burned.
Never would I want a hosting company to maintain my website. It makes me clutch my chest in dramatic Scarlet O’Hara fashion just thinking about it.
They should be professionals in their field – which is hosting – not web development. If they’re so big they have the employees to handle website maintenance as well, then I’m suspect of the training the employees have.
Are they really web developers? More importantly, are they working in the best interest of your business, or just simply looking at code? Do they look at all the activity on your site before they make decisions, or just do the single task and move on to the next client? Do they test for conflicts or corruptions?
Automatic updates to plugins, themes and WordPress core seems like a good idea. But it’s an automated process. Made by machines.
It does only one thing. Update the code.
The difference between a human updating your code and a machine is the thinking, decisions and care that happen when someone like me is doing the updates. I check for conflicts, aging plugins that aren’t maintained and should be replaced, check for corrupted files and use my knowledge, experience and expertise to make sure everything is perfect after the updates occur. And most importantly, I think about the ramifications to your business.
I care about your business. Not just your website.
Bottom line: don’t be cheap
Ask questions. Seek advice. Don’t be a cheap ass. It’s your business, for Pete’s sake.