As I’ve spent the best part of the last two weeks migrating around 100 websites from one server to another, I thought it a good idea to write about web hosting. Unusually for me, this isn’t going to be the typical ranting post where I lay waste to a dozen different hosting companies (at least it won’t start out that way). Nor is it going to be a deeply technical nerd-fest where I drone on about RAID, RAM, bandwidth and other things nobody really cares about.
No, this is going to be about web hosting and what you get when your website is hosted with Engage Web, as opposed to using other hosting providers.
What is web hosting
Let’s kick off with a simple one, but something many people still ask when they’re enquiring about a new website. ‘Web hosting’ refers to the server space, or the computer, on which your website sits. This server is always switched on and is always connected to the internet. It needs to be so that when someone types in your domain name they’ll be taken to your website, and not a ‘Page cannot be displayed’ or ‘Error 500’ message.
If the server ever fails, your website will go down.
Some hosting companies offer shared servers, some offer dedicated servers. How much you pay for your hosting will depend how powerful the server is and, thus, how quickly your website loads when people visit it. The cheapest hosting companies use low-speed shared hosting platforms, sometimes with thousands of other websites on the same server. If one website has an issue that uses up all of the server’s resources, every website on the server suffers.
Imagine you’ve tried to open a really large file on your computer and it freezes. You can’t do anything else until it unfreezes. That’s what happens to websites on shared servers. This will affect your website’s performance, your website’s conversions and even your website’s ranking in Google.
Nobody likes to think about backups. Indeed, very few people even consider ‘disaster recovery’ until it’s too late. Yet, when we pay for web hosting, we expect that someone, somewhere is backing up the website and that they can restore it should something happen.
Of course, that’s not always the case. Not every web host makes backups of the websites. Not every web host will restore the backups for you, should you need it. Earlier this year, domain registration and web hosting company 123-REG hit the headlines when they accidentally deleted an unconfirmed number of their clients’ websites. The number is believed to be in the thousands, and many businesses were left without websites for weeks – including a Scottish football team.
Its clients expected the websites to be safely backed up and restored, but they weren’t. Unless you’re specifically told your website is backed up, and how often it is backed up, then don’t presume that it is.
After several days of no websites, 123-REG even emailed some of their customers suggesting it would be quicker if they did a ‘reimage of their VPS’ themselves. If you’ve no idea what that even means, let alone how to do it, you’re probably best hosting with someone who will handle all of this for you.
Our web hosting
At Engage Web, we offer a fully managed web hosting service. We set up the server space for our clients, we install the websites and we keep them updated with the latest software. We create the email addresses, provide the necessary details and update the MX records for them when needed.
We back up our clients’ websites every day and, should the worst ever happen, we will restore the website to working order.
We monitor the disk space and bandwidth (the space the website takes up on the server, and the data transfer it uses when people access it) and we adjust this where necessary and keep our clients informed should any hosting changes be required.
In short, we manage the websites for our clients. If you don’t know how to update Name Servers, add Zone Files to DNS Records, repair MySQL databases or install website firewalls, don’t worry – because we do.
There are much cheaper web hosting providers out there, and we’d even be happy to recommend some of them if you need us to. Over the years we’ve used dozens of different web hosting companies so know which ones are reliable, and which ones take an eternity to respond to customers when they have a problem.
If, however, you want it all taken care of for you, we’re happy to do that too.