You put an incredible amount of work, research, thought, money, and time into launching your online business, but where many entrepreneurs drop the ball is with hosting. Let me guess—you went with 1) the hosting offered when you designed your site, 2) a host you were familiar with (perhaps from a television commercial or because it’s one of a handful of household names), or 3) you did minimal research before choosing a host. If that rings a bell, you’re in the majority but you could be doing better.
The good news is that switching hosts and/or upgrading your hosting package is pretty simple. A web host directly impacts the quality of your site, uptime, and how reliable it is for both you and your visitors. In some cases, it can also dramatically play into costs. These days, you should be paying nothing or a nominal fee for both basic shared and virtual private server (VPS) hosting plans. The only time you should incur a serious cost is if you need a dedicated managed or unmanaged server (which is highly unlikely).
No matter how long it’s been since you assessed your site and the type of site you desire, it’s time to do it again. The requirements of your site will dictate what kind of web host you need. Every host is different. Some specialize in e-commerce sites, some are very bare bones, and others can actually manage to offer an overall package with excellent service and support.
If you have a big, popular site with a lot of traffic, you’re going to want a web host that offers local server load balancing. This optimizes reliability on the server’s end, which is where your site is hosted. In turn, this will improve your visitor’s experience. It also offers better security, easier scalability, and you can rest easy knowing your website can grow with minimal pangs.
Don’t Get Down
You’ve probably heard of (or experienced!) servers that are down more than others. Or maybe you’ve experienced a host that promised 100 percent uptime (spoiler: That doesn’t exist) and maybe even does so at incredibly high rates. The vast majority of small business owners use a shared hosting plan, but know that you could also use VPS (although VPS is technically shared, it acts more like a dedicated server).
With VPS, you get a much more agile server. It’s a machine inside a machine, letting you configure for your site’s needs. In this case, there’s no risk of your site going down solely because of over-consumption by another site you’re sharing the server with. You can also customize some aspects for your unique needs, which makes scalability a lot easier. If you’re thinking about a dedicated server, keep in mind that these can easily cost several thousand dollars per month—after all, you’re buying a server and some cost six figures. It’s very unlikely any small business owner needs this level of hosting.