Whether you’re a marketing director or business owner at some point you’ll consider website hosting.
For most, web hosting is set up and then forgotten. You probably know you need a host for your website to work online, several companies offer the service, and the fee is minimal.
All of that is true – but often business owners just want to get started so they sign up for something basic. Later they later discover some limitations and want to customize their plan, giving them more to consider.
We’re going to take a deeper look at why choosing the right website hosting matters and answer questions like:
- When do I go with the DIY hosting solutions like GoDaddy or Blue Host?
- When do I choose a web hosting company with in-house technicians?
Let’s start by considering your needs.
What are my web hosting needs?
Before you can decide if a DIY web host or a full-service hosting solution is best, you need to think about what you need on a daily basis.
Depending on the type of industry you’re in, you might require special treatment for sensitive information. Think HIPPA or PCI compliance. If you plan on accepting credit card payments, you payment solution may require you to be hosted on a PCI compliant server. That might be more difficult to ensure using a DIY service.
Does your website get spikes during certain times of the year? Think Black Friday or Cyber Monday. DIY web host solutions aren’t always clear on how you can manage your resources.
Will you get more resources allocated to your site when you need it? During a heavy traffic spike, when you should be making money, your website could freeze – cases like this are why some businesses prefer hiring a professional hosting solutions team.
Some other important questions:
- Do you have international users?
- Do you need the ability to set up subdomains or development sites?
- Will you want to deploy a mobile app?
- Do you want email addresses with your domain name?
- Do you send newsletter blasts from your domain?
I don’t get a lot of traffic on my website
If you’re starting out or serve a niche market, your website may not be getting a lot of daily traffic.
If your site is basic or you make some small changes periodically using WordPress or Joomla, you may not need many configurations, and a DIY solution like GoDaddy, Bluehost or FlyWheel may be a great solution for you.
With that said, it’s a good idea to be aware of the basic minimum best practices for today’s web. For example, all websites should have an SSL. An SSL is a tool that encrypts information to make it difficult to steal. Most browsers tell site visitors if an SSL is present. For example, next to the URL in your browser you’ll see either lock icons or shields to tell users that this site has an SSL and is secure:
If a site is not secure, you would see these icons:
You don’t want your users to feel like their security is at risk when they visit your site. For more on SSL’s, see our blog post, Does Your Website Need an SSL Certificate?
In addition, it’s a good idea to set up a spam filter when you’re setting up your email hosting.
If you’re planning for the future and expect to grow, include periodic upgrades as needed in your growth plan. Or you can avoid needing to migrate your site once it has matured and is more difficult to manage, by starting with local web hosting professionals.
My website gets a lot of traffic
If you know your website is getting a lot of traffic or experiences traffic spikes, you may require more advanced configurations. There are a number of hosting solutions that can ensure that your site stays fast when it’s under load.
Ensuring you’re on a dedicated server eliminates the conflict with other websites experiencing high volumes and gives you access to your server’s full resources at all times.
If you have a high-volume site, consider setting up an efficient caching plan. Caching is a technique that allows your server to store a snapshot of your site instead. When your site experiences high volume, caching can greatly reduce the workload of your server and help your site load faster for your users. Here are some tips on how to make your site fast.
Often server-level caching is executed using a CDN (content delivery network). A CDN is a network of servers that are distributed worldwide that store snapshots of your website. This way, your website is geographically close to any worldwide user so that during peak traffic hours your international users will experience the fastest site you can serve them.
A CDN has the added benefit of providing email obfuscation, hiding email addresses from page crawlers, like email harvesters and spambots, looking for email addresses on your pages that they can add to spam email lists.
Should I use a dedicated server?
Like most things, the answer is – it depends. By now, you have a sense of some of the considerations to make when determining if a DIY host solution or a full-service host solution is right for you. Let’s recap the important takeaways to this point.
- Most out of the box DIY hosting solutions are on a server that’s shared by many other domains. This means you’re all sharing resources that are engineered to the needs of multiple sites, not customized to your needs.
- When you’re on a dedicated server, you get 100% of the server resources at all times.
- If your payment processor requires PCI compliance, you’ll likely need your own dedicated server.
- If your industry requires special treatment of information, such as HIPPA compliance, you may require additional customizations that need to be done on a dedicated server.
Can I do it myself?
Again, it depends. Basic websites with a small traffic volume can probably be managed by a curious person and a lot of YouTube videos using a solution like GoDaddy.
But as your website grows in traffic volume and the complexity of your needs grow, you may want to consider reaching out to a local web hosting professional for guidance and support. There are some important questions to consider before you commit to the DIY approach.
- Do you want a local (human) expert to help you in real-time when you need it?
- Do you want expert support to help when making upgrades and adjustments?
- Do you know how to configure the solutions that are right for you?
- Do you have the time to learn hosting technology so you can solve problems when they arise?
- How much of your time can you put into hosting management every week?
As you can see, choosing the right hosting solution for your website takes some thought. Do your prep work upfront so as you grow you can position yourself to provide for your needs as they arise.
In general, if your website doesn’t get a lot of traffic, and doesn’t handle sensitive information, a DIY solution could be the best choice. If your website is growing, plans to grow, and handles sensitive information, a local web hosting provider is probably going to be the better long-term solution.