You have probably heard it over and over again “is your business online yet?” or “create your own online presence”, but where do you start? Do you hire a web designer or do you try to save your money and design it yourself? One area to consider if going for the web designer option is the website hosting you choose.
In this post I am going to share what you should consider when first developing a new website and what to do as your website contenet grows and hopefully, your audience and profits increase, I have wrote the post in a fashion from the very start of a websites life to the large succesful website. To begin, lets discuss what website hosting is …
What is website hosting?
Just like us websites also need a home, a place to base themselves as they try to grow and develop a larger and more meaningful existence. A website host is the place that makes the website accessible to the masses via the WWW, opening the doors so to speak.
This website home is typically found on what is called a server and these servers are usually found in data centres across the globe. Sometimes, by the IT geeks of the world, it is better known as colocation.
Most small websites will probably start with shared hosting, the cheapest option for a start up website but definitely not the best if you are serious about your online presence..let me explain…
When you firs get your hands on a domain name and a beautifully designed website you don’t need a lot of hosting power, you just need a place to base yourself particularly if you are the owner of a static website ( one that doesn’t change often, if at all, usually created with basic coding like html and embedded CSS ). This is the cheapest type of hosting at around £40 per annum, good enough if most of your businesses leads comes from outside the web.
The problem with shared hosting is that it is..shared!
You could be sharing your website and bandwidth with hundreds of other websites meaning that your connection to your website is slower and when you start getting a more complex website with CMS ( Content Management Systems ) to add new content regularly. The content you add on a website in a CMS requires Mysql databases thus slowing down the speed at which a page is delivered to the end user. If you are sharing your server and bandwidth with hundreds of websites the speed of your sites content will likely be slow.
Slow websites are bad for seo as well as for the user but there is a way around the speed problem regardless of having a shared host/server.
Want to read more about CDN and the CDN I recommend using? Read this blog post about CDN.
If you are creating new website content daily it is likely your traffic is increasing, the more data requests you receive the longer it will take your server to respond on a shared host so it might be time to look at another type of hosting, VPS.
When you have created a substantial amount of content for your website and you are getting thousands of visits to your site daily you may need to think about getting a VPS or virtual platform server.
A virtual platform is the middle ground between the very cheap and basic shared hosting and the expensive top end dedicated hosting. It is around ten times more expensive than shared hosting ( around £350 per annum ) but also around ten times cheaper than dedicated hosting ( into the £1000’s per annum ) so is really only for those serious about making their online presence into a business.
A VPS has very similar functionality credentials to a dedicated server without the huge cost of running one. The only problem with a VPS is that the performance is not perfect as the underlying physical hardware is shared amongst other VPS and may depend on the workload of the other VPS’s in the network but if you keep your CDN it should reduce the problem.
Nearing the top of the hosting ladder
Your website has gone from a very small entity sitting in a sardine tin of a shared server to a few thousand pages sitting on its own VPS but sharing hardware but you are now making substantial amounts of money and you want that extra level of performance and as your website is now conducting many transactions per day you need extra security and regulations in place.
Well done, you have now entered the realm of the big boy businesses and you have two choices…
Welcome to the penthouse of hosting, you have generated significant interest in what you have to provide and now you can reap the benefits of having your very own hardware and server just for your website and developments ALONE.
A dedicated hosting is just that, it is dedicated to you; no sharing a server, no sharing hardware or bandwidth you truly have the golden goose for your website and your visitors will notice, if not subconsciously, how fast your site has become thus improving your business reputation.
The other benefit of not sharing your server is that you have total choice over the operating system, hardware etc. You have total control to optimize performance of your site and improve your data security.
The problem with all this means that you are going to have to pay the price for such a service and it doesn’t come cheap. Expect to pay in the region of £1500 per year, if not more.
Own Servers and IT equipment in a state-of-the-art data centre
Has your online business turned into a huge enterprise? If your site has become really popular and turning over large amounts of cash online you need to start considering getting your own hardware, IT specialists and a state-of-the-art data centre to ensure your website data ( and customer’s data ) is secure and running at the highest level possible. A great data centre will offer you the best possible performance for your website and company’s IT.
Cooling, power redundancy, physical security, network equipment and a variety of network service providers.
The very best data centres will also be highly accredited by offical bodies and consider the threat to your data from terrorism, flooding and breaches of security.
MigSolv The Gatehouse is one example of a state-of-the-art data centre in the UK. Before the company built this data centre they had been providing data centre and computer room consultancy as Migration Solutions for over a decade for major corporations.
They had seen what works best and what to avoid so became in a great position to design and run an excellent data centre.
See this video for an idea of what it looks like inside a top of the range data centre.
The cost of hosting your own equipment inside a data centre isn’t the cheapest option for the start up website business and to be perfectly frank, it shouldn’t even be considered in the early days. Once you eventually make substantial gains on your website and you have an IT department to maintain it, it is definitely worth considering colocating your IT equipment to a data centre.
Note : For more information about colocation read the 10 facts on Colocation that MigSolv provide here.
I hope this blog post has been insightful, I have tried to make it as easy to understand as possible for those with little to a medium size knowledge of hosting in a future post I will discuss some of the best hosting providers for each stage of the websites life.