Does it matter where you host your website?

Posted on February 12, 2019

 

I saw the usual question about website hosting posed in a recent chat group on WhatsApp. I’ve long since given up answering questions like this on Facebook, as the vast majority of people who ask for website hosting recommendations are really looking for the cheapest option. As ‘the cheapest’ isn’t something I’m interested in, my recommendations for the best one for their needs is often ignored.

However, I thought as this question was posted in a WhatsApp group of businesses who network with each other, the question might be worth answering. It wasn’t.

For some reason, whenever someone asks for a website hosting recommendation, they’re bombarded with people telling them who they use, regardless of whether that person has used them for very long, has much to compare them by, has really tried out their customer service or, indeed, has any idea what the person asking for a recommendation is actually looking for.

Despite all this, they still chime in as though they’re some sort of expert, recommending X or Y because they’ve had their website with them for six months.

When you compare hosting providers, there are a number of different factors you should consider. First and foremost is what you actually need. If your requirement is for a WordPress website, then you’ll need a Linux Server. If, however, you need to host an ASP.NET website, then you’ll need a Windows Server. The size of your website, the traffic you’ll receive, the number of concurrent users and the resources the site will use will all dictate whether you can use shared hosting, such as a VPS, or whether you’ll need a dedicated server.

Then there’s the differentiators between different hosts. Some of the things to consider here include:

Server spec

Not all hosting companies offer the same level of hardware and software. You can’t compare prices, or offerings if you don’t know the spec. One computer costs more than another if it’s a newer machine, with more memory and a bigger hard drive, but hosting is the same. Make sure you’re comparing a similar spec across different hosts.

Customer service

When something goes wrong, and it usually will at some point, how quickly does the hosting company respond? If you’re unsure, check on Twitter. Type in their name and the word ‘complaints’ to see how often they receive complaints, and how quickly they respond. Some website hosting companies are renowned for their poor level of service, and never getting back to their customers. On the other hand, some are so proactive they even follow other hosting companies and respond to THEIR clients when they’re complaining, offering a better alternative.

Price

This isn’t the most important thing, but of course it is a factor. You need to consider the price with different website hosting companies as you’ll be taking out a contract with regular outgoings from your business. It could be monthly or annually, and you’ll need to make sure it’s financially viable.

Up time

What ‘up time’ (meaning how often are their servers online) do they guarantee? Is it 99.9% of the time, or 100% of the time? Is it less than that? If their servers are offline and your website is unavailable, you’re losing business… and you’re paying them for this downtime.

Backups

Do they back up your website? Not every website host does this. If they do, how often do they do it? Is the backup stored elsewhere too? It’s very common that backups are stored on the same server, meaning if something goes wrong your website, your backup could be wiped along with it. Additionally, will they restore your backup for you or will they leave that for you to do?

Conclusion

These are just a few of the points to consider when looking at different website hosting companies. Over the last 20 years, I have used dozens of hosting companies and have seen some really awful things happen, and have experienced some incredible levels of service. That’s why at Engage Web, we host our clients’ websites for them and look after them ourselves. We ensure they’re online, performing well and that they’re backed up every two hours. If anything were to go wrong, we would restore them ourselves.

You’ve got enough to worry about running your own business without concerning yourself with your website. Let someone else look after that for you.

Darren Jamieson

Technical Director at Engage Web
Darren is Technical Director at Engage Web, as well as being a co-founder of the company. He takes a hands-on approach to SEO and web design, helped by more than 15 years’ experience in these fields.

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