Web Hosting – Does it Matter?
There are now a plethora of web hosting companies and it seems like more are starting up every day. So how can you differentiate between web hosts and select the best type of hosting for your website?
Well there are any number of factors you could use to make this decision, but one of the easiest ways is to look at your site speed. This is how long it takes for your website to load and you can check this free at websites such as Pingdom.
Why is load speed so important? Well it appears that nearly 50% of internet users expect the loading speed of a website to be under 2 seconds and every second over this, results in a 7% loss in conversions. So if conversion or search engine optimisation is important to your business, then ensuring your site loads in under 2 seconds should be a primary performance factor.
Let’s take a look at the different types of hosting available and how each might affect loading speeds:
This is the type of hosting used by a great many individuals and small businesses, as it is extremely cheap, often as low as $1 per month. The problem is that load speeds are not guaranteed.
This is because these hosting companies park a lot of websites on the same servers, as it’s the only way they can make any money. So if some websites require more server resources, the speed of all websites on that server slows down.
Another problem is that shared hosts can also be slow to respond to customer support requests and when they do, they usually don’t have WordPress, Joomla or other CMS specialists available. The upside of using shared hosting is the cost, as it is a very cost effective option for SME’s and start-ups.
If you run a WordPress site and want more customer support, then managed hosting may be the best choice for your business. The idea behind managed hosting is to have all the technical aspects of running a website managed by your host, leaving you to do what you do best – running your business.
So in essence you are still on a shared server, but a managed hosting service optimises your server environment, ensuring loading times are maximised and takes care of your site’s security, daily backups, plugin compatibilities and WordPress updates.
They also provide superior customer support and of course, are experts in WordPress. Managed hosting does cost more than simple shared hosting, but it can be surprisingly cheap, starting from as little as $30 per month per website.
Virtual Private Servers
These are for companies that like to get under the hood and do it all themselves. The problem is that to make use of virtual private servers you need to understand server operating systems and how to configure your applications in that environment. This is because if you want support for this type of hosting, then the costs increase exponentially.
The benefit of virtual hosting is that you can completely customise your online environment to suit your needs, but you are still subject to the overuse of server resources by other websites hosted on the same virtual server. So you can in essence, still have problems with load times.
Similar to virtual private servers, but you have your very own physical server, so are not at the whim of the demands made by other websites. These obviously cost more per month, usually starting at $100 and can run into thousands of dollars per month to run.
They are usually used by corporations who have millions of visitors per month or who require high computational power. So these are not for the faint hearted, not unless you have a serious passion for getting your hands dirty and have the cash to back it up. If you want to be on top of your loading speeds however, then a dedicated server is the right choice for your business.
Jason is a Web Developer at Cornerstone who appreciates building websites that delight and inform. He is a curious person, and enjoys work that challenges him to learn something new and stretch in a different direction.