Like the engine of your car, the right web hosting plan can make the difference between constant breakdowns or smooth, high-speed performance.
Underestimating the importance of hosting can be a lethal business mistake when it comes to working on the web. Here’s a few reasons why.
1. Too cheap
Woohoo - a budget web hosting provider! That’s ten bucks a month saved for something you can’t see anyway. The problem comes further down the line, when your website disappears for hours during your busiest period, costing you hundreds of dollars in lost sales.
Why is the web host not able to restore your website quickly? A more reliable and redundant hosting infrastructure costs money.
Why can’t I get anyone on the phone to help? 24x7 technical support costs money.
Why are there no backups to protect my valuable data? (Are you going to make me say it a third time?)
There's an old adage that you get what you pay for – and web hosting is no different. Sure, if you want hosting for a fun side project, like a personal blog or artistic project, maybe cheap hosting is fine. But if downtime is potentially costly and/or damaging to your business, paying an extra ten or twenty dollars a month for a professional and reliable service seems paltry, doesn't it?
Smarter Suggestion: Research your hosting options carefully. Higher-priced plans often come with bonuses like email forwarders, cPanel access and round-the-clock support which are well worth the pocket change it takes to buy them.
2. Too small
One day website traffic is up, the next it’s down. And sometimes those spikes in activity can catch you by surprise. Maybe a blog post you wrote goes viral. Maybe a promotion is extremely popular. Maybe it’s just the run up to Christmas.
There are many examples of websites crashing and becoming unavailable because a successful campaign brought too many customers to the site at once, overloading the hosting server. Think about that – when your website is at its most successful, it breaks – losing you all those sales and creating disappointed customers who may not return a second time.
If you think there may be a spike in visitors looming, take steps to prepare. Make sure there is plenty of computing power and bandwidth in your hosting plan to cope with your best days, not just your average ones. Or adopt a hosting provider that allows you to scale up for the busy months and down for quieter periods.
Smarter Suggestion: Unlimited bandwidth plans are becoming increasingly available to Australian customers, if not ubiquitous. But make sure the provider you are using has the means to back up this promise. Often it's the big US companies which actually have the resources to ensure less dropouts.
3. Too insecure
It seems every week there’s another news story of hacked customer details, information stolen or money defrauded because an online business was careless with security. Once you’ve lost customer trust over security, it’s very hard to win it back. And there may be legal ramifications if you failed to ensure the data was protected.
Half the time, there are gaping weaknesses in the design code, database or operational processes of the website that hackers love to exploit. But that doesn’t let the hosting provider entirely off the hook.
Check the security credentials of the data centre where the infrastructure is housed, the protocols for accessing those servers (both physically and online) and how account passwords and administrative permissions are handled.
Don’t treat your choice of web hosting as an afterthought. Once your website has crashed, the damage is already done.
Smarter Suggestion: Secure web hosting services are more often than not peer-reviewed and ranked. Hosting Review or Web Host Directory are both good places to start.
For more sage advice, spend some time with our experts.