The question of which hosting provider or setup to go with is something we get asked all the time. There’s a huge variety to choose from and ultimately no right or wrong answers. In fact, Ethical Pixels offers hosting solutions specifically tailored to our clients’ needs, although we’re always happy to work with third party hosting providers if preferred.
Having said this, there are some important points to consider when making your decision.
What level of control do you need?
There’s a huge amount of technical detail that goes into keeping hosting software up-to-date and running smoothly, most of which you’ll never see. This isn’t a bad thing, especially as there’s no one single way to go about it, or one specific software stack to use.
The Apache vs Nginx debate is never ending, and there are pros/cons to each approach. The key is for most users it doesn’t actually matter. How much time do you plan to spend tinkering with your server configuration? Unless the answer is a lot, you don’t need to worry about this too much.
What you do want is an easy-to-use control panel that gives you access to basic features such as File Management, Email accounts, FTP and DNS.
How many people will use your site?
It’s always nice to think that your website will attract tens of thousands of visitors a month, but the vast majority of businesses and individuals don’t need this level of traffic for their site to be successful or effective.
This is a good thing too, as it keeps the web server requirements low and prices more affordable. Most standard web hosting packages assume a site won’t attract this level of traffic, which means that if you do suddenly go viral the site could be knocked offline – something Reddit refers to as the ‘hug of death‘.
Our basic hosting is sufficient for the vast majority of our clients but some, that have higher visitor numbers or more resource-intensive applications, use higher-specification, private hosting packages or scalable cloud hosting to
It’s usually best to build with scalability in mind if you think your user base will grow – this helps prevent problems with slow load times or downtime when you inevitably have to move the site to faster servers.
Beware of bolt-ons
The larger web hosts really can compete on price, as they’re operating at significant scale. This doesn’t mean it’s not worth being cautious of prices that seem too good to be true.
Often, the offering is designed to lure you in with the promise of ease and low base pricing. The trap is the upgrades you feel you can’t say no to along the way, which can inflate the cost over and above other providers.
Bolt-ons like semi-dedicated IP addresses and different grades of SSL certificate (the thing that keeps traffic to your website encrypted and secure) are offered after you’ve already committed to the initial package.
SSL in particular is something no website should be without, especially since Google started de-ranking non secured sites in their search results, creating a two tier web as some people rightly didn’t want to pay vastly inflated prices for a basic SSL certificate.
On this point, we proudly support Let’s Encrypt (a non-profit certificate authority run for the public’s benefit) and include SSL certificates as standard on all sites hosted with us, for no additional cost.
If you ever do have new requirements or need help with your hosting, can you get it? And will it actually solve the problem? We’ve noticed some of the big web hosts (not naming names) have core functionality broken on their admin systems, and have done for months on end. This is somthing that could cause a business major issues.
This isn’t to knock them, as they provide a competitive price to a huge number of customers. And we’re not set up to do that at the same scale. However, they do assume that you know how to do everything you need using their package, or rely on you googling the answer. For our clients, we help you use the systems, and we can offer an available, personal approach to support.
This isn’t an exhaustive list, but a few of the common points we advise on. To make things easier, we offer all our clients free web hosting for the first year when they commission a basic website package. Some sites and applications require higher specification hosting.
Alternatively, if you’d like to discuss your hosting requirements or ask us any questions about hosting, feel free to contact us, we’re happy to help.