Okay, I have to say this and remind all web owners again, cheap hosting will cost more in the long run.
There.. I said it… done. Right?
Well, okay, I should explain.
So why not go with a cheap host like GoDaddy or HostGator that charges $3 or $5 per month? It comes down to three things: (1) continuous operations or uptime, (2) tech support availability, and (3) hosting configuration.
I’ve been in this business for over 20 years and have worked with many, many hosting companies. The hosts I started with have, in the past two years, begun to show their age or poor growth policies with unacceptable customer service and/or high website downtimes. If a website goes down for a few minutes it can cost a high traffic site thousands. If you have a small website with just a hundred or so visitors per month, then you would be okay.
Right now, I am talking to the larger companies that rely on their site for sales and income. If you have a beginner site (4 or 5 pages) and get very few visitors, you’d be okay with a $5/month host. Companies that rely on their website for new business or to help their customers (web applications, bloggers, membership sites, etc), this requires a more reliable, robust hosting.
So there are three crucial elements to a web host:
1. Continuous Operations and Uptime.
To start, most often, cheap hosting companies will put your business website on a server that might be shared with a thousand other websites. If, say, one website goes down due to hacking or hit with a lot of users because their site was featured on CNN, yours might go down too. Another reason is they will use 3rd party data centers that are not monitored properly or might be overloaded with traffic that is sending billions of users to millions of websites. If the connections at the data center are not monitored like backups, power grids, ISP, it is a catastrophe waiting to happen.
2. Tech Support Availability and Knowledge.
So with today’s technology and website platforms (WordPress, Joomla, Drupal, etc), a tech support agent that is knowledgeable enough to understand the issues that commonly arise is crucial. As with everything online, it is getting more and more complicated. Databases, connection errors, hacking, and more have become common occurrences and issues. We are long past the days of easy HTML websites and simple images. It’s important to be able to talk to someone with knowledge not only of a server but the applications that reside on it. Then how fast will they respond? How long do you wait to get help?
3. Hosting Configuration and Scalability
Depending on your website’s platform, a host should give you the chance to scale. As your business grows, your website will tend to generate more traffic. Your web host should be able upgrade and scale to accommodate your traffic growth in a heartbeat. Just remember that there is no such thing as “unlimited resources.” There is a trend that has hosting companies not charging you based on your webspace but on your traffic. Meaning, as you grow, this is reflected in the amount of people coming to your website and therefore you need more support and bandwidth. You are then charged based on that.
My Personal Experience
A while back, I had to move 50+ clients away from HostGator which I had been with for over 10 years. They were bought out about 2 years ago and purchased by a very large conglomerate that owns about 20 other hosting companies [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Endurance_International_Group]. As soon as that happened, things started going wrong.
Downtimes increased (meaning the site would go down for long periods) and tech support sometimes took 30 minutes to respond via chat and longer on the phone. That is unacceptable in today’s fast moving tech market.T
Working with a premium host is crucial if you rely on your website for your income. As I am a reseller, I moved my clients to a new company and things have been working smoothly since. They have no chat but email support is extremely swift, usually within two or three minutes.
For other clients that might need more help and higher resources, I have used WPEngine. Yes, it is a bit more expensive but wow, I am impressed with the website’s speed and uptimes. Crucial for some websites we manage.
I will continue to monitor as this type of hosting need grows and competition sets in. So far another hosting company, MediaTemple.com, is looking to capture some of the WordPress hosting market. I’ve heard good and bad things about the company so I will wait to see the outcome as they gain market share and watch how they manage the growth.