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.com. 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 WordPress.com. 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.