If you are the small business owner of a regular non-tech company, then you probably don’t know a lot about web hosting.
And there is no reason you should. You are responsible for running your own business and not to know everything there is to know about the way that web servers work.
However, at some point, you will need to make a decision. You will need to decide where to host your website – and that is a very important decision.
So let’s break everything down in the most basic of terms. Let’s say you are living in some kind of home – a condo, an apartment, a house, or perhaps a trend new tiny house. If you didn’t have a home your life would be very hard. The same is true for businesses. What would a grocery store do if it didn’t have a physical location? It would be completely chaotic.
The same thing is true for your website. In order for it to work properly, it needs to have a home. A web host puts your website onto its web servers. Your website wouldn’t show up on the internet if it didn’t have a web server. It would remain on your computer.
So unless you own a server yourself, then you will need to rent space on someone else’s servers. So how can you tell what you need and what to use?
Don’t Host Your Site On Your Web Person’s Server
We don’t want to anger any web designers but, usually, it is a bad idea to put your website on someone else’s private server. What if you end up needing to fire your web designer later? Think about how awkward it would be if you needed to fire them and ask to move your website to a different host.
Or worse than that, what if it makes them really angry and they attempt to charge you an outrageous fee to move your website? You want your website to always be in a neutral place. You need to retain complete control over your web hosting. If you need to fire them, then you just remove their access from the host.
Use a Large Company
Small business owners know how hard it is to grow a business but it is best to go with a large company for your website hosting. Big companies offer 24/7 technical support, protect against cyberattacks, invest in the latest technology, and use provide the most reliable service at an affordable price.
It might be more pleasant to talk to someone from a smaller company via chat or on the found but they don’t normally have all of the technology services or resources that bigger web hosting companies can provide.
Use a Managed Server
Do not be intimidated by the term. Think of it this way: If you don’t know a lot about something, then don’t you want someone as your manager who knows more? Of course! That is exactly what a managed service is – it’s a server with a human and automated management team that keeps everything running for you automatically. Management services can include server health monitoring, software updates, virus scanning, and automatic backups, and much more.
If your server is not managed, then the only management you will receive is a guarantee that your server will work. In most cases, you will even need to get all of your own server software installed yourself. Do you know how to properly install things such as MySQL, Ubuntu, Apaches, and other highly technical things? If you don’t, then a managed server might be best for you.
Who would want to use an unmanaged server? Anyone who has a contractor or staff member who can manage their entire web presence for them including the sever. Quite often unmanaged servers perform better at a much lower price – sometimes 1/5th of what a managed server costs. So if you do have someone you are paying monthly already, then they may recommend that you use an unmanaged server for your website.
Know What Your Options Are
When you sign up for a managed web hosting accounting, there are 3 main types that are available: dedicated hosting, VPS hosting and shared hosting.
Shared hosting can be viewed as being similar to an apartment complex. There are many people sharing the same building. When it comes to hosting, your website is running on a server that also contains a lot of other websites. A shared hosting account might only cost you a few dollars per month, but sometimes it might run slower than what you want. If you have a really basic website that doesn’t contain any high-end programming, then shared hosting will probably work fine.
Virtual private server (VPS) hosting provides you with control over the configuration of your server. You have space of your own but you still share the server with others – although it is much fewer people compared to shared hosting. Often it is more expensive but also faster. You can expect to pay $25 to $50 per month.
Having a dedicated server is similar to living in a house. It is all yours and you don’t have to share it with anyone else. There are a lot of advantages that come with it, but it also costs more. You can expect to pay $80 or more per month. You will also need to have a tech person of your own to manage the server.
All of the above options are not available with unmanaged hosting. Speak to your tech person if you are considering getting managed hosting.
Generally speaking, really small businesses can use shared hosting just fine. If you are running an e-commerce website or have more technically advanced requirements, switch to VPS hosting. When you are ready for dedicated hosting, your tech team will tell you. You might never need to have dedicated hosting for your website.
Consider Getting Managed WordPress Hosting
If you happen to be a DIY type of person, then you may have thought about creating your won website. It is entirely possible to do this with Squarespace, Wix, or another website builder. If you would like to be slightly more technical, then you may have checked out WordPress, the world’s most popular website software. Due to its popularity, managed WordPress hosting plans are offered by some web hosts.
Those plans manager your WordPress site for you including speed, security, daily backups, and software updates. Speed is especially important since WordPress websites have a tendency to run slow unless a tech person makes some tweaks.
The disadvantage to Managed WordPress hosting is it will cost about $30 per month, however since site speed is a very important consideration these days it might be worth the price.
If you are not hiring your web designer to maintain your website they may recommend it.
Overall, it does cost more but if your website is a critical aspect of your business, then it is probably worth the price.