Small Business Owner

Is Your Business Too Big for Shared Hosting?

There is a palpable excitement to taking your business from a small operation, maybe even just brick and mortar, and expanding it to the web. If this is your first web based business, you probably rolled it out in degrees. Maybe it started out as Facebook page attached to your personal account where friends and family could place orders via email. Many “mom and pop” businesses start this way because it costs nothing and most of the customers they currently serve were acquired through in-person interactions and word-of-mouth. While that’s a solid start, it’s not sustainable long term. In order to really start creating a business to live off of, there needs to be outreach to untapped markets. This is where setting up a website comes in.

For many business owners, setting up a website may not necessarily be a passion project, but rather, a necessity that they want to set up while maintaining minimal costs and minimal headaches. The creative part of setting up a site is up to you. The platform you want to use, the content on the site, and who is going to develop it are all critical choices you’ll be facing as you establish your virtual storefront. These are choices you’re probably anticipating already. Is there enough room in the budget for a web designer? However, one decision that may not be in the forefront of your mind is where your site is going “to live,” so to speak.

Deciding where and how to host your site is going to be an important decision made relatively early in the process. After all, what good is a site if it only exists on your local machine? Because cost is undoubtedly a concern, you may want to go for the cheapest option. That’s understandable, but maybe not the best decision. Though there are some sites that can get away being hosted on slower shared services, your business probably shouldn’t be one of them. If you’ve been looking at shared hosting, here’s why you may want to reconsider.

Shared Hosting Limits You

There are a few major choices when it comes to web hosting. The ones you’ll come across most include shared hosting, dedicated servers, and VPS. When starting out, many people go with shared hosting.

The cheapest option is shared hosting like the kind you find at WordPress is a tremendously popular platform powering nearly 27% of all the websites on the internet. Pretty crazy when you consider just how vast the web is. A quarter of the web is no small feat. However, what that statistic doesn’t tell you is that all of those sites aren’t running on the shared hosting powered In fact, the vast majority of the professional level sites using WordPress for their CMS have hosting solutions independent of WordPress the company. Why would someone opt for more operational expenses? Because the hosting provided by WordPress is very limiting. Not being able to fully control your theme choices or your site crashing because too many people are visiting it doesn’t justify that “free” price tag. Shared hosting is one of the primary reasons why your site can feel sluggish. If you’re sharing server resources with many other businesses and just one of those businesses sees a massive uptick in traffic, it can crash everyone else. That’s a bit of an extreme case, but it demonstrates how a shared hosting environment works. Your share of the resources doesn’t exclusively belong to you. Many sites all operate from the same pool. Once the strain becomes too much, sites can suffer.

To be fair, there are instances where shared hosting makes sense and many people do use it. If your website is a simple informational site designed to be a professional looking method of contact or if it acts as a relatively static online portfolio, shared hosting can meet your needs for little cost. Anything more advanced than that, though, and shared hosting quickly reaches its ceiling. If we consider that a business site can lose around 25% of its visitors if load time takes more than 4 seconds, it quickly becomes apparent how limiting (in many ways) shared hosting can be. The bottom line is: if you use your site to sell goods or services, you’ve probably outgrown shared hosting from the get go. And if your site is running slow, then you definitely have your answer. It’s time to move on to greener pastures.

So What’s the Alternative?

You don’t want to break the bank, but you also want a site that functions smoothly on a consistent basis. For many business owners, managed VPS hosting makes the most sense. There are some exceptions, but for the vast majority of sites a VPS is enough. You could even opt for SSD VPSes for further boosts in speed. While migrating from one host to another is done all the time, it’s probably best to just start out on a virtual private server and avoid the inevitable step of having to move everything from your shared hosting service. Using a VPS is relatively inexpensive when you consider how much more capable they are when compared to shared hosting. When it comes to running a business, the value is apparent. The immediate difference is how system resources are allocated for you. Whereas shared hosting requires you to deal with having the same resource pool as a bunch of other sites, now you have a guaranteed allotment. You’re still sharing a physical machine with other sites, but the effects of the activities of one user’s site will be absolutely minimal on yours. As long as your site code is optimized, you shouldn’t hit your monthly cap. Even if you do, it’s very easy to upgrade your monthly data allotment. Significant traffic boosts may require you to upgrade eventually.

Make It Managed

If there is one downside to using a VPS, it’s that you’re responsible for your server space. That means if something goes wrong with your installation, you’re out of luck if you don’t have the know-how to navigate those kinds of issues. Of course you could install cPanel or some kind of alternative to control things, but as a business owner do you really have that kind of time? Do you even have a desire to learn? With a managed VPS, your hosting company takes care of server-side concerns for you. This can include upgrades, security provisions, and around the clock technical support for unexpected outages. With DDoS attacks being a concern, you want peace of mind knowing your hosting company is protecting you.


Running a business website can be a challenge, but with the right hosting solution the technical aspects of it can be minimized. By setting up your site on a VPS from the beginning, you can avoid the growing pains of moving from shared hosting slowdowns to a new, snappier environment. With a managed VPS, you’ll have the speed you need and the security required of a professional site; especially one that may be accepting customers’ private information. VPSes come in many options so choose the storage and data plan that works best for you. Remember, you can always upgrade.




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What is CentOS, and Why Should You Care?

  • Being Linus Torvalds
  • The story of Linux
  • Things you wanted to know about CentOS but were afraid to ask

CentOS is a particular distribution (aka distro) of the Linux operating system. Let’s look at Linux first to get a sense of that general technology and community, then take a direct look at this particular variation of the open source operating system.

Being Linus Torvalds

Like many major moments in computing or any field, when Linux was introduced, it didn’t seem like that big a deal until years later. On August 25, 1991, Linus Torvalds wrote a simple post in the Usenet newsgroup comp.os.minix. “I’m doing a (free) operating system (just a hobby, won’t be big and professional like gnu) for 386(486) AT clones,” he wrote in part. “This has been brewing since april, and is starting to get ready.” [sic]

The free OS that Linus was casually announcing would end up becoming a major piece of computing networks worldwide. Suffice it to say that today, Linux is not just a single developer’s hobby.

As the operating system began to take the world by storm, Glyn Moody of Ars Technica became interested in the steps that preceded its initial release. He flew to Helsinski, Finland, in December 1996 to speak with Torvalds at his home, resulting in the story detailed below.

The story of Linux

Linus started attending Helsinki University in 1988, where he was working on a degree in computer science. In 1990, he became familiar with the Unix operating system in one of his classes. The course he took had a cap of 16 students because that was the capacity of the school’s license. Torvalds was immediately drawn to the operating system, feeling that its coding interface was surprisingly user-friendly.

One of the textbooks for the class was Operating Systems: Design and Implementation. The book included source code for the OS Minix, which had become available on the Intel 80386 processor. Linus was very interested in chips and thought the 80386 was the best he had seen from the company.

It sparked a technological leap, in part because he had money from student loans and Christmas. “That’s when I actually broke down,” Torvalds told Moody. “I remember the first non-holiday day of the New Year I went to buy a PC.”

Linus bought his PC in January 1991. However, he couldn’t work with Unix because he didn’t yet have the Minix floppy disks. While he waited, he played Prince of Persia and started running tests on the 80386 chip.

He wanted to know how effectively the computer chip could switch from one process to another. He would run two tasks, with a timer set to alternate between them. One task simply wrote the letter A, while the other wrote the letter B. He was not programming very much at that point because he was getting to know the parameters of the Intel CPU.

As bizarre as it may sound, the bare-bones task-alternating project eventually morphed into the Linux kernel. Torvalds realized that he could change the A and B tasks to emulate a terminal. He had one task that was moving information from a keyboard to a modem, while another one brought data from the modem to the monitor.

“I had keyboard drivers because I obviously needed some way to communicate with this thing I was writing,” Linus explained, “and I had driver for text mode VGA and I wrote a driver for the serial line so that I could phone up the University and read news.” In other words, he was simply gathering information from newsgroups via the modem.

An advantage of drawing from the newsgroups was that the comments therein helped the young programmer to revise and strengthen the developing OS throughout the summer of 1991. Linus also realized he wanted to be able to download, so he programmed a disk driver. He additionally had to create a file system that could draw from the Minix file system for writing and reading during upload and download. Unix is essentially composed of these basic components, Torvalds noted: alternating between processes, drivers for your devices, and the file system.

Linux received its name by accident, really. Linus needed to know the POSIX standards that made systems similar to Unix compatible with one another. These specifications were a bit expensive, according to a professor at the university, Ari Lemmke. However, Lemmke said he was actually focused on operating systems and kernels himself.

“He had this small area on [the FTP server], and he said: ‘[H]ey, I’m putting a directory aside for you,” said Torvalds. “So he created the /pub/os/linux directory.”

Linux was the name Linus had given the project while it was in initial development, but he never intended for that to be the name of the OS when it was released publicly. He feared people would think he was arrogant. He wanted to instead called it Freax for Free Unix. Lemmke saved it instead under the work-in-progress name Linux, and it simply moved forward under that heading.

The first version of the OS was released via email to some contacts from the newsgroups. Torvalds rushed that version to get something up on the FTP site to which he had access. The next version, which he announced via the Minix newsgroups, represented a vast improvement.

Still, the original base of users was miniscule. “I don’t know how many people got [this first public version in comp.os.minix],” Linus commented. “[P]robably 10, 20, this kind of size.”

Things you wanted to know about CentOS but were afraid to ask

Now let’s look down the line at CentOS, one of the most prominent offspring of Linux.

Known for its stability, consistency, easy-to-use administration, and straightforward replication, this flavor of the open source OS was created as a spinoff of Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL).

Beyond the OS itself, the CentOS Project – the entity that manages development of the platform – serves an organizational role by providing resources so that other groups can more easily develop tools based on the CentOS system.

CentOS, which was first announced in March 2004, is community-developed, based on source code released at no cost by Red Hat. Part of its grounding is that it should maintain compatibility with RHEL. The OS is free to download, use, and make available to others.

The community consists of a core development team and users ranging from casual Linux fans to corporate system administrators.

The basic idea behind the CentOS Project is to give people a strong system for open source groups to use and extend. The framework can be utilized by hosting companies and for processing of scientific data, for instance. Organizations are able to place their programs on a reliable platform.

The CentOS Governing Board consists of original project members and Red Hat personnel, all of whom help with development of the ecosystem.

The Project was designed in a similar manner to the esteemed Apache Foundation. “A governing board… oversees various semi-autonomous Special Interest Groups or SIGs,” notes the CentOS site. “These groups are focused on providing various enhancements, addons, or replacements for core CentOS Linux functionality.”


Want to see CentOS in action? At KnownHost, our managed VPS hosting packages, based on CentOS Linux, give you the flexibility and power of a dedicated server without the high price tag. Learn more.

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Should You Get a VPS for Your Growing Ecommerce Startup?

Hosting is critical to ecommerce success. For instance, your technology will hugely impact speed, which is fundamental to consumer satisfaction and search engine optimization. Performance gains are just one of the many reasons a virtual private server (VPS) is the best choice for ecommerce growth.

  • The need for speed is reflected in the numbers
  • Shared hosting: living with slobs
  • VPS: an apartment of one’s own
  • Yes to VPS #1 – Because shared hosting limits growth
  • Yes to VPS #2 – Because SSL warnings scare visitors
  • Yes to VPS #3 – To avoid migration
  • “Sharing” done right: the guarantees of VPS hosting
  • Out with sharing, in with virtualizing

If you have a growing ecommerce company, you have many things on which you need to focus, and it can be difficult to prioritize. However, one of the most basic elements is hosting. As the infrastructural technology that supports your site, hosting is clearly fundamental to your performance.

The need for speed is reflected in the numbers

Unconvinced that performance should be at the heart of your business plan? Consider the most important elements that will determine if an ecommerce site is successful, according to a couple of recent studies:

  1. Research from 2015 “discovered that consumers rate performance above… content when evaluating their experience on [a] website,” noted Digital Tomorrow Today.
  2. A 2016 poll of 1029 US adult consumers, featured in, asked people to rank five factors of an online store in order of importance. The factors were speed, usability, general design, written content, and visual content. More people ranked speed as the 1st or 2nd most important factor (40.6%) than any other element but usability (47.4%). Speed also tied with visual content for the lowest number of people ranking it as the least important factor (14.6%).

Beyond consumer perception, also consider that slowness negatively impacts your search rankings – as discussed by Billy Hoffman in Moz.

In fact, speed is just one reason you should seriously consider upgrading your hosting. Here are a few of the primary reasons why an ecommerce company might decide to make the switch from shared hosting to a virtual private server (VPS) – all of which contribute to lowering your risk and accelerating the rise of your online revenue.

Shared hosting: living with slobs

Veteran IT strategy consultant Chris Lema compares shared hosting to having terrible college roommates, in three ways:

  1. No one takes the blame. “Go ahead and call your shared host,” says Chris. “They’ll tell you it’s someone else’s fault (yours).”
  2. You suffer from your roommates’ errors. Your performance tanks because they install plugins that draw heavily on the resources of your shared
  3. Snap decisions make life difficult down the road. The price tag of shared hosting looks good, but it gets expensive when you have to correct things yourself, or pay a professional to do so.

VPS: an apartment of one’s own

With a VPS, you still have a landlord, but you can go into your own apartment and lock the door. A VPS is divided into multiple, distinct servers using a virtualization platform. You get your own operating system! You actually get your own slice of the CPU, RAM, bandwidth, and disk space – and it’s substantial. It may be possible to “burst” beyond these parameters at times, but good hosts (like good landlords) will strictly manage all tenants of a VPS environment so that no one is suffering from poor behavior of others.

Sounds good, right? Let’s look in a little more detail at three primary reasons ecommerce companies say “Yes to VPS”:

Yes to VPS #1 – Because shared hosting limits growth

Shared hosting is often sold disingenuously. Providers will suggest that your hosting will come without limitations; you’ll be able to pop a dozen apps onto the server with one-click Fantastico and not have any latency problems.

Hosting is a competitive market, and companies will often overpromise and under-deliver. Check your contract, and you’ll see that your company won’t be able to scale as you’d like it to, when you need it to. In fact, resources will always be limited within certain parameters, regardless your provider.

Shared hosting can become a nightmare, explains Ajeet Khurana of The Balance. “When your ecommerce business grows and your website runs several scripts to offer all that wonderful functionality to customers,” he says, “your hosting will hit a wall.”

Yes to VPS #2 – Because SSL warnings scare visitors

Many shared hosting companies will reduce their overhead with shared security certificates. Secure sockets layer (SSL) certificates allow encrypted communication for digital transactions. If the certificate is not issued directly to you, the browser will notify visitors with a scary warning message that the connection isn’t safe.

The error message will say something to this effect (from a sample Internet Explorer message):

There is a problem with this website’s security certificate.

The security certificate presented by this website was issued for a different website’s address.

Security certificate problems may indicate an attempt to fool you or intercept any data you send to the server.

We recommend that you close this webpage and do not continue to this website.

Now you tell me: would you feel comfortable doing business with a company when your own software on your computer is telling you to run for the hills?

Yes to VPS #3 – To avoid migration

Smart businesspeople don’t want to jump into anything headfirst. It’s wise to test things and proceed. Hence, you start out with shared hosting and then decide if it makes sense to upgrade as you go. Does that really make sense, though?

Keep in mind that the difference in money you are talking about between shared and VPS hosting is in the neighborhood of $20 per month (maybe $30 if you want to further accelerate with solid state drives). It’s effectively peanuts for a hosting plan that offers the speed to bolster user experience and SEO, business-grade security, and significantly more control – and that means you don’t have to think about data migration right at the point your company is picking up pace (after all, that is when you hit resource limits and would feel “forced” to switch).

“Sharing” done right: the guarantees of VPS hosting

Now, the above three reasons you should say “Yes to VPS” are really about why you should turn away from shared hosting. Let’s look specifically at why VPS is awesome. Note that a central theme is guaranteesno guess-work. Benefits include:

Isolation – Other users’ activities won’t affect your service. Someone else might crash their VPS, for instance. Yours will keep running.

Speed guarantee – If there are two CPUs designated for you, you know they are there exclusively to power your business. The same is true for RAM. Shared hosting speed fluctuates depending how much is going on with other accounts. With a VPS, the resources are set aside specifically for your use.

Stability guarantee – You will experience gaps in the steadiness of your service with shared hosting, but not with a VPS – because of the distinct distribution of resources.

Space guarantee – Khurana notes that hosting companies that say they don’t limit your resources protect themselves legally from the expectations of this statement with “fair use” language in the contract. “In other words, the resources must be fairly shared between all users of that server,” he says. “That translates to limited disk space.” With a VPS, your disk space is truly yours. In other words, no shenanigans.

Root access – Some VPS plans, such as ours, will give you root access to be able to install certain software. That’s completely unavailable in a shared environment.

Out with sharing, in with virtualizing

Are you starting an ecommerce company? Is it running and starting to pick up speed? Either way, a VPS is the right way to go.

At KnownHost, we have 7 VPS packages to satisfy every budget and need, with DDOS protection included at no additional charge! Compare plans.

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The Web Designer’s Guide to Choosing the Right Hosting Solution for Clients

Being a professional web designer often requires you to wear many hats. This is especially true if you’re the sole proprietor of your business. Not only are you coming up with wireframes and logo drafts, but you’re also the in-house expert on QuickBooks. While the actual creative work may be your passion, you know how critical some of the less glamorous decisions are to the success of your business. Take your web hosting needs, for example. There is a lot riding on the solutions you choose for your clients. For one thing, you have a budget to keep an eye on. If providing hosting for your clients becomes overwhelming overhead, you have a problem. Your clients are relying on you to take care of their entire web operation and you need to turn a profit.

When it comes to hosting solutions, you have options. Options are good to have, but using them wisely is the key. As with most things, you’re going to be balancing cost vs. performance. There’s no getting around that challenge. Luckily, there is no one size fits all solution to hosting so there are opportunities to save money depending on the particular client. Let’s take a look at some of the hosting options available and see which solution applies to which use case.

Shared Hosting

Let’s start with the simplest option: shared hosting. If you’re a professional web designer, this is where you probably cut your teeth when first getting your business off the ground. The biggest advantage of shared hosting is the cost. This is the cheapest hosting option. It’s like renting an apartment vs. buying a house. Mortgage payments tend to be higher and it takes longer to close on a house. With renting, you’re up and running quickly and you pay less. To take the analogy further, though, if someone has a massive leak in their apartment forcing the landlord to shut off the water and your ceiling is destroyed, you’re now on the losing end of the shared resources arrangement.

That’s all to say if your client is concerned that their site seems slow, the fact it’s on a shared hosting service could be the culprit. That doesn’t necessarily mean you shouldn’t use shared hosting. For many small businesses, they don’t need high performance. If your client isn’t running an ecommerce site and is light on audio/visual, shared hosting will probably work just fine. Just bear in mind if they suddenly see a massive spike in traffic, they could be looking at some downtime. The host server has to cater to all the sites sharing its resources and if your client’s site begins to need more and more of them, there will be a service interruption. Of course, increasing demand is a problem everyone wants to have. If your client is seeing increasing traffic you may need to migrate to one of the following servers.


Virtual Private Server

Choosing to set your client up on a VPS is a strong, middle-of-the-road option that will probably lend itself to the majority of your use cases. Because everyone loves a continuous analogy, let’s stick with housing. Now you have a condo. It’s yours, but, in a way, not quite. You can decorate as you wish, you have a lot more space compared to an apartment, and you can be pretty autonomous by comparison. However, there are rules. You may not be able to put that barbecue there or park your car wherever you want. You also still have a fairly close relationship to your neighbors, though thankfully they’re not flooding your ceiling anymore.

What this all means is you have allotted resources that are guaranteed to you, but you’re still relying on a resource pool that other people are using. The speed improvements are a huge selling point when moving to a VPS from shared hosting. Though you are sharing a physical machine with other sites, they have no effect on your site’s speed. Basically, as long you personally don’t hit the ceiling on your VPS configuration, your site performance will hold up. Scalability is also relatively simple on a VPS as no real migration is required. However, because this is your private space, you are responsible for the management of it. If you want to reboot the server, you can. If you need to run some kind of resource-intensive software that would bog down your local machine, in most instances you can instead run that software in a virtual environment. You’ll need to check with your hosting company first, though. If for some reason you need to run software that pulls in massive quantities of data in real time for hours, a VPS would be much more convenient than having your home computer slowing to a crawl and your cable company contacting you about your data usage.

Like with a condo, though, you are responsible for your space. Which could mean headaches if you’re busy doing client work and something happens. Luckily, you can opt for a managed VPS to avoid that. We’ll touch on managed servers below.

Dedicated Server

Now you own your own single family house. Congratulations; peace and quiet at last. All the space you need is yours and you actually own the property. That’s pretty much what a dedicated server feels like and is the hosting solution most people are probably familiar with. You’re paying for the use of a physical machine every month. No other accounts exist on it and you get the full scope of its resources. This is the most robust solution, but also the most expensive, similar to buying a house. An entire house isn’t always what people need, just like a dedicated server. But if your client is running a resource intensive ecommerce site, for example, you’re going to want to set them up with the fastest hosting solution. Because you’re not sharing resources and are renting the entire machine, the only limit on your bandwidth is the monthly resource allotment you agreed to.

Dedicated servers are the best choice for your biggest clients. Providing each of your clients with a dedicated server can quickly eat up your budget, but for the most highly trafficked and resource hungry projects, they are the best solution.

A Word on Managed Hosting

When it comes to a VPS or dedicated server, there is one more thing you need to consider and that is going with a managed or unmanaged hosting plan. For a web designer, managed makes more sense. Client work is the focus. Having to worry about security, DDoS attacks, general network errors, and any of the other things that could routinely happen is a job unto itself. When presented with the option to have a managed server, take it. Any additional costs will pay for themselves thanks to peace of mind.


As you can see, there are multiple hosting solutions for you to choose from when it comes to maintaining your clients’ websites. Ultimately, you need to evaluate the traffic levels for each when determining which kind of server makes the most sense. Higher traffic loads correlate towards more expensive server options that provide more resources. You’ll also need to take things like ecommerce vs informational sites into consideration when deciding on a server. No matter your clients’ situations, there are appropriate hosting options available.

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