Should you host your website with a discount web hosting company?
In certain situations using a discount hosting company might not be a bad idea, but make sure you know what you are getting.
Managed v.s. Unmanaged Hosting
What managed or unmanaged hosting means will vary from each hosting provider, but following will usually be true:
- Unmanaged means you are getting some space on a server for your website, and probably not much else.
- Managed hosting means your hosting provider will provide space on the server and will also manage backups and updates. They may also provide others services like monthly updates to your website.
Unmanaged website hosting can be as low at 99 cents a month, or it might even be free. As with many things in life, discount web hosting can be a great deal “until it isn’t”.
Here are the questions you need to ask yourself to see if discount web hosting is good for you.
Will your website being “down” negatively affect your business?
With any hosting provider there is a chance your website will go down. Websites are hosted on computers and computers can have problems just like cars, washing machines and lawn mowers.
Discount hosting providers don’t want your website to have downtime anymore than “expensive” hosting companies. But hard drives fail. Most computer users have experienced a hard drive failing.
When things do go wrong (and they will at some point) a discount hosting company has less financial motivation to help every customer that is paying a very small amount every month. Monitoring backups and applying security patches takes time. These are real man-hours spent by a technical expert for each website. Some things can be done on a server level, but some of these security patches and backups need to be done on a per-website level.
This just makes financial sense; if a company can fit 100 clients on a web server and each is paying only 99 cents a month, they are making about $100 a month from that server. That only allows about 2 hours of work from an in house IT professional before they are losing money. That’s 2 hours of work for all 100 clients. For this revenue model companies can worry about their server, but not about all the websites on that server.
This is especially true when a website gets hacked. You may think your company website is not a target for hackers because it’s small. Forbes magazine reports on average, 30,000 websites a day get hacked. Most of these are small to medium businesses that have security issues on their sites from not being updated.
If your website is hacked you may lose your entire website. If it’s not all lost, getting your site back up may take days.
These facts shouldn’t sound like “scare tactics”. We know hard drives crash and websites get hacked. This is a reality.
If your business won’t be affected if your website takes a while to get back up, or rebuilding it doesn’t sound that bad, discount hosting could save you money in the long term.
However, if you feel your business could lose money if your website was down for an extended period more expensive Managed Hosting is probably a better choice. Managed hosting can cost $60-100 a month. Think about how much losing new business might cost you in a month.
Does a discounted hosting provider site load sloooooooooooowly?
Many times discount hosting providers pack lots of clients on each server. This can slow a server down, which results in pages loading slowly. You can test your site speed online in many places, Google’s PageSpeed Insights will give you a review on how fast your website loads. Pay special attention to the “Server Response Time”. This is an indicator of how fast your hosting provider’s server is responding.
There are other websites that will tell you how fast your website loads, but be careful with web site speed tests that analyze the content of your website, rather than the response speed of your server. Your discount hosting provider shouldn’t be penalized if your website code is bloated and slow (unless they also built your website).
Who do I call when something goes wrong?
If you have questions or issues how long will you have to wait on hold to get more information? For many small business owners time is very valuable. If you’re thinking about going with a discount hosting provider you might try calling their support line (not their sales line) and see how responsive they are.
What do other customers think?
As with many purchases it pays to get references from other users. Don’t be afraid to ask for references from your hosting company.
Choosing where your website is hosted is just like any other decision about expenses for your company; do your research and find something that fits your budget.