Why You Should Host Your Business Email on a VPS

In an age where everything can feel like it’s moving at the speed of light, it’s almost funny how we’ve never quite gotten past the need for email. What other technology has remained relatively unchanged but critical to business and communication over the course of twenty-plus years? While industry leaders and opinion columnists have been publishing pieces pondering “the death of email” for years now, it doesn’t look like it’s going any where any time soon. That means your email solution is still something you need to take seriously when establishing your online business.

 

You might be wondering what, exactly, you need to decide on when setting up your email account(s). After all, you’ve had a personal email forever and signing up for a free one is one of the simpler things a person has to do. The only real question is do you use Yahoo, Gmail, or another of the popular heavy hitters? Well, maybe not so fast. Have you considered hosting your own email on a VPS?

 

Why Would I Want to Self Host?

 

That’s the million dollar question, isn’t it? Why give up the convenience of having some big company manage your emails with all the bells and whistles to host your own email on a VPS you’re paying for every month? It turns out there are quite a few reasons why you would want to do this. The first one is you could use the same VPS that you’re using to host your site. This is a matter of preference. Some find it convenient, others thing you should keep your mail and domain separate. If you have the know how and a penchant for privacy, you may want to keep your email on a VPS (either its own or with your domain). Here are some of the reasons why.

 

Privacy

 

This is probably the biggest reason why you’d either want to install your own mail environment or use the one provided to you by your host on your VPS. Whether or not you consider yourself something of a “control freak,” there are real benefits to hosting your own email when it comes to privacy. For one thing, you don’t know the extent to which your “free” email host is using your information to generate ad revenue or however else it is that they make money. Take for example Google and their tendency to have a changing privacy policy over time. Circumventing software privacy settings to gather user data can certainly feel crummy as a user. Now imagine what kind of data collection happens via Gmail.

 

An email account set up through your hosting company isn’t subject to these kinds of privacy intrusions. By all means, check with your host to see if they ever use your email for analytics purposes, but chances are they don’t.

 

There is another reason you may want to keep your email with a hosting company that’s closely related to privacy and has been in the news quite a bit over the past several years.

 

Security

 

If you’ve used Yahoo as your email provider for any length of time over the past decade or so, you’re probably all too aware of their massive security breach in 2012 that we’re still discovering more about four years removed. Not to mention it appears they haven’t really gotten things together. Do you want your business emails exposed to these kinds of massive attacks?

 

The question is what is at the root of these security issues? Is a VPS objectively safer? That’s hard to say. Anyone with enough skill can break into a server and it’s not like a big company like Yahoo is lacking in security personnel or budget. The answer comes down to who makes a more attractive target. A company like Yahoo is much more of a worthwhile target because of the size of the company, its worth, and the amount of users that can be compromised. Millions of customers having their information exposed to the highest bidder is a major crime with a lot of value for someone willing to commit it. Someone getting into your email account on your hosting company’s VPS? Not so much.

 

Your hosting company also has their own security protocols that while maybe not on the same scale as a major company like Yahoo, does the job through constant observation. After all, they have many websites being hosted on their hardware that they are responsible for.

 

Functionality

 

The “bells and whistles” offered by many of the big email providers were mentioned earlier when the question was posed as to why you’d want to give these things up for an email account provided by your hosting company. Features are nice. The more the better, right? It depends, really. When you use a big name for your email management, you’re at the mercy of their update cycle. Web-based services tend to be on more frequent and dramatic update cycles compared to their smaller counterparts. This means features you’ve come to rely on can be removed without much notice. Also, features can be added in that you’re not a fan of. Factor in the possibility of needing to retrain your staff on email functionality (if that’s the scenario you work in) for best practices and you can see how frustrating this can be. Your email set-up on your VPS likely won’t change much, if at all, depending on the configuration. If you’ve installed your own mail environment, nothing much changes without your say so. If you’re using the email services provided by your host, functionality probably won’t change with any regularity. 

 

Downtime

 

Here’s where we get into a few “what if?” scenarios. Downtime can be a huge burden when it actually hits. KnownHost provides industry leading uptime of 99.996%. Do the big companies go offline? No, not often. But when they do it’s a huge disruption. Whether it’s a malicious attack or some sort of malfunction, being at the mercy of a major provider going through prolonged downtime can be crippling for your business. With a hosting company, you know a local team is working quickly to resolve any issues. You can also actually get in touch with a human being fairly quickly thanks to the 24/7 support you won’t find with a giant like Google.

 

There are also always outside chances of the big companies dropping certain services. One never knows when a company may deem its email functionality is no longer profitable or there is litigation that causes the email service to be shut down. Companies like Google and Yahoo, again, are prime targets for  things like DDOS attacks to make political statements or cause financial disarray.

 

Conclusion

 

At KnownHost, we know our customers want reliable performance, speed, and access to our support team whenever they need it. Whether you’re looking to host a personal site and accompanying email or a whole ecommerce organization with a fleet of email addresses, we can help. Our VPS packages are designed for every kind of use case. And if you need even more? There’s always a dedicated server option. If you’re looking to get sites or email accounts established, contact our team today and we’ll answer any questions that you may have.

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Why VPS is the Right Choice for WordPress When You Need More Power

Is cheap-as-it-comes, bargain-basement shared hosting the best choice for your WordPress blog or site? Since your performance, your raw speed, is so critical to strong UX and even SEO, the short answer is, “Probably not.” Let’s look at the two options so you can understand why many blogging influencers recommend switching from shared to VPS hosting – basically as soon as you can afford to make the transition.

  • Hosting: Who Needs It?
  • Description of Shared Web Hosting
  • Not a New Horror Story
  • Powering Your Site with VPS
  • Getting to Know your Fast, Friendly VPS
  • Stepping into a More Powerful Future

First, let’s take a minute to just talk about hosting itself. Then we’ll get into the specifics of the shared and VPS options.

Hosting: Who Needs It?

It’s easy to forget, especially in an era of increasing virtualization and popularization of cloud computing, that the Internet is not in the air. It sounds funny to say it that way, but that cuts to the core of what hosting is. Hosting is the infrastructure of your site. It’s the actual machines and resources through which you deliver your domain to the end user.

To put it another way, you can think of hosting in terms of the location of your site on the web – the actual location behind the façade of the site name through which people access you. This location serves as a central point where people can view what you want them to see (your pages and content).

Robert Mening of WebsiteSetup discussed a site as a way of publicly posting a file (really a collection of files). “Your website is the ‘file’ and essentially it’s being put up on the internet for people to view,” he said. “So instead of having to send complex website files to people in order for them to be able to see your website, they’re able to simply type in your website URL and view it all there.”

Description of Shared Web Hosting

Shared hosting is the least expensive option out there to get a website up on the Internet. In that sense, no wonder it is so popular. Any argument for other types of hosting necessarily starts with understanding exactly what the shared variety is and why it might not be best for your efforts.

Shared hosting means that the hosting company is using a single computer server for various sites. A single server will typically be used for hundreds of other users.

“[B]ecause all those websites are on the same physical server, it only takes a handful of larger websites to swallow up too many resources, and your website will be affected,” said UK-based web design pro Kev Quirk in MakeUseOf. “That’s what I did when I started my first blog, and it was a big mistake.”

Actually, Quirk was concerned primarily with the poor performance of shared hosting. In other words, he wanted more power. We’ll get into his ideas further below; but let’s first look at another major reason savvy businesses start to turn away from shared WordPress hosting as they grow: security.

Not a New Horror Story

While the problems with shared hosting may be news to you, many security pros have pointed out for years that they offer terrible data protection.

One example is Jim Walker of HackRepair, who specializes in helping people recover from hacks. He has noted that the majority of his clients lost control of their site because of shared hosting.

Walker compared shared hosting to an office where you can get into any of the interior offices with a single key, or an open university dorm room that is similarly designed for shared access. In the dorm scenario, when a person is able to steal from your roommate, they also have access to your things because they’re in the same room.

“So… ‘dorm room style hosting’ trades security for convenience,” said Walker. “It takes less than 3 minutes for a hacker to hack or delete the contents of every website sharing the same shared hosting account files space.”

Powering Your Site with VPS

As you can see, shared hosting should not be expected to give you nearly the same performance or degree of protection that you get with a VPS. By substantially improving your position with these two critical issues, speed and security, it certainly can help you to grow in a healthy, sustainable way online.

Now let’s talk specifically about power. You want the development of your company to proceed without interruption, which means – especially on big days when you get incredible traffic – you need a hosting solution in which your site never hits a wall.

If you are unconvinced by the security aspect and just want to gauge the value of the high performance itself, you may want to know at what point you should switch. One very straightforward way to tell if your site is simply too active for shared hosting is if you notice it’s running slowly.

Now, “eyeballing” your speed like that might tell you something about your need for better performance. However, it helps to understand just how important of a priority speed should be. Consider this: when Google tried switching from 10 to 30 results per page, they realized it didn’t make sense because the site loaded half a second slower. How much traffic were they losing on those pages? An incredible 20%! If 20% of people can leave based on a half-second hitch, that tells you what a critical factor speed really is.

Getting to Know Your Fast, Friendly VPS

Some people think VPS is costly and difficult. Not so.

In virtual private server hosting, you are still sharing a physical machine (as opposed to controlling an entire dedicated machine yourself). However, there are resources set aside specifically for you. It doesn’t matter if the tenant next to you is hungry: they can’t reach through the wall and take your nachos.

“[Y]ou’re always guaranteed the system resources that you’re paying for,” said Quirk. “Think of it like one big computer, running lots of little computers inside of it.”

As long as you don’t tax the VPS yourself, you’ll get improved performance. It’s also simple (i.e., no migration) to switch from one VPS plan to another through your hosting provider as you grow.

Quirk did warn that you have to set up the server and have to better understand system management. What he is talking about is actually a specific type of VPS hosting: unmanaged or self-managed VPS hosting. You actually have help with all aspects of the server, configurations, installations, and anything else along the way, with a managed VPS hosting package.

Now, it’s up to you if you want to have a web hosting control panel for your server, such as cPanel/WHM or DirectAdmin (which we and other VPS providers will often provide as a checkbox add-on when you order the service). Once that control panel is set up, you’ll be able to much more easily achieve various tasks on your own, with a user-friendly interface, getting assistance as needed from the hosting company.

When you use something like cPanel or DirectAdmin, “you have a nice, web based control panel to manage your websites, databases, email addresses, and DNS,” said Quirk, “just like in shared hosting (except more powerful, of course).”

Stepping into a More Powerful Future

Are you ready to leave behind shared WordPress hosting for the lusher, greener pastures of a VPS? At KnownHost, we have 7 VPS packages to satisfy every budget and need – with complimentary DDOS protection! See our fully managed VPS plans.

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Evicted: How a VPS Can Save the Day if You’re Kicked Off Your Shared Hosting Plan

Eviction is a scary prospect, isn’t it? Now, wait, we’re not talking about losing your home or anything. That would be way too much of a downer. But, getting kicked off your server by your hosting company doesn’t feel great, either. This is a real risk you face if you’re on a shared hosting plan. That’s not to say shared hosting is inherently “bad” or anything, but that super low price per month that caught your eye initially brings some drawbacks with it. Namely, if certain things happen (both within your control and not) that your hosting company deems a detriment to the service they are trying to provide, they can kick you off.

 

Of course, your exit from your shared hosting plan could easily be voluntary as well. In fact, it’s quite likely you’ll outgrow your shared hosting sooner rather than later. But, not everyone sees the writing on the wall or they are resistant to switching hosts due to the perceived headache of doing so or the costs they think will be involved to upgrade their hosting. All things considered, though, it’s much worse to suddenly find yourself with a site that no one can connect to. It’s the equivalent of a hurricane demolishing your storefront. Your livelihood is now being jeopardized. What do you do? A managed VPS is a good solution, but before we get to that, let’s take a look at some things that could land in you in some trouble when it comes to shared hosting.

 

Resource Hungry

 

This first point is the most common and more than likely the reason you would either get the boot or choose to switch hosts. Shared hosting offers very limited resources, generally speaking. This is how costs remain so low. If you have a static one pager, that’s no problem. But if you find yourself reading this blog, you probably aren’t looking to host a site of such simplicity. For owners of ecommerce sites or robust WordPress installations, shared hosting quickly reaches its limits. If your site install requires too powerful of a CPU, too much RAM, or you fill up your allotted hard disk space, it’s game over for shared hosting. You’ll be receiving a termination communication in no time. A good example of the kind of site that will quickly outgrow shared hosting (if it will even launch there to begin with) is a Magento ecommerce site. Magento is a notoriously resource intensive platform that can power an ecommerce site with thousands of product entries along with the associated database. If you’ve been having issues with a site like that, you probably want to go straight to a dedicated server because you’re going to need as many resources as possible.

 

Magento is an extreme case, but your particular site can run into resource issues as well. Common hard drive space issues include large MySQL databases, backups, and large volumes of emails. Emails are a pretty common culprit because they can easily begin to grow exponentially. Each new team member you add brings dozens of pieces of correspondence a day. If you begin collecting emails from customers as well, you can see how quickly you can reach your allotment limits.

 

A note here about “unlimited plans” is important. While “unlimited” certainly sounds nice, there of course have to be finite limits. If your site needs such a large allotment of resources that it’s detrimental to the other sites you share a server with, you can bet your shared hosting provider will take you offline to mitigate the angry customer ratio.

 

Too Popular

 

Who knew having too many visitors coming to your site could be a bad thing? In the long run, it of course isn’t a problem. In fact, popularity is a good thing. But in the short term, having too many people come to your site could put you in hot water when it comes to your shared hosting. As a general rule of thumb, if your site gets under 1,000-2,000 visitors a day, you’ll probably be alright on shared hosting assuming your site isn’t terribly complicated. But once you reach a point where you’re even moderately popular and well-trafficked, you come up against your bandwidth limit fairly quickly. And, once again, other sites that share your server will experience issues and your hosting company will either throttle your site or it’ll go offline. Again, “unlimited” plans can become an issue here. If too many sites try to take advantage of that selling point, there will be problems. Which leads us to the next point.

 

Your Neighbors

 

Technically, the people you share your server with won’t get you kicked off your shared hosting plan. If they cause an issue, they will be. However, what happens to your neighbors could prompt you to pack up your things and head for greener pastures. Basically, the situations mentioned above but performed by your neighbors instead of you put your site on the losing end of the deal. Sites that are more resource intensive than yours will slow down your site too. Better hope that no one (other than you) goes viral over night. Then there are things like security issues which we’ll go into a bit more detail about in the next point. But, since so many sites are so closely associated, your site is more vulnerable to security issues. If one site on the server gets broken into, that could be the access point used to get your information as well. It’s like when there’s a flood in an apartment building. Not only the apartment of origin gets affected. The walls three floors down can rot away from the leak as well.

 

Security

 

You’re aware of the risks of a neighboring site being compromised, but what if it’s your site? Security breaches can get you kicked off your shared hosting plan because they open up other customers to risk. It’s not just hacks that can steal information that get you taken offline either. Due to bandwidth being a concern, DDOS attacks are something else you want to be mindful of. When they hit, your site gets shutdown due to a sudden influx of artificial traffic. This can jeopardize everyone you share a server with. DDOS attacks aren’t all that rare, either. It’s why KnownHost offers complementary DDOS protection with our hosting packages.

 

Switch to a VPS

 

Going from a shared host to a managed VPS will eliminate most of these concerns. The biggest difference is, while you’re still technically sharing physical server space, you have your own specific allotment of resources that your neighbors won’t affect regardless of their usage. No longer will a sudden spike in traffic on one site affect all the others. You’ll also have more resources to use. Faster speeds ensure more consistent high quality performance. With industry leading uptime and great plans, KnownHost has the managed VPS solution you need.

 

Let our team help you with the migration process. Don’t wait until you find yourself being told by your host they can no longer maintain your site. Switch to a VPS today and begin taking advantage of the better performance and reliability KnownHost can offer.

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When You Get a Big Web Design Client, Is It Time for VPS?

  • The Confusion of Comparing Hosting Plans
  • What Exactly is a Virtual Private Server?
  • How a VPS Stands Out from Other Options
  • A Little Help from Your VPS Provider
  • What’s the Right Choice for Your Design Business?

The Confusion of Comparing Hosting Plans

Web hosting can feel complex and esoteric. It isn’t always clear what type of hosting is most suitable for your company.

Shared hosting is popular for its affordability and simplicity, but your site could end up with lagging performance due to constrained disk space, processing, memory, and bandwidth. Plus, you are more vulnerable to hacking. Essentially, you’re at the mercy of the other users sharing the server with you.

After all, you aren’t just sharing resources with other companies but are also sharing the hardware, operating system, and sometimes even the IP address, explains Jonathan Bailey of BloggingPro. Because you are thrown into the same pool with an often huge number of other individuals, “what they do can and at some point probably will affect you,” he says. “Especially if they have technical issues, start sending out spam or otherwise do things that negatively impact the server and its performance.”

Dedicated servers give you a much richer pool of resources from which you can draw, and you can tailor the machine to your specifications. However, they are prohibitively costly for many startups, and a certain degree of computing proficiency is required in order to select one and configure it properly.

Many web design startups will start out on shared hosting, with the plan to upgrade once their company takes off and they land a big client. Luckily for designers, they don’t have to take the leap from shared hosting to their own dedicated server. Instead, they turn to a happy medium: VPS hosting, aka virtual private server hosting.

“Compared to a shared hosting service, a VPS (Virtual Private Server) is a technically superior solution in almost every single way,” notes Daniel Pataki of WinningWP. “Technically, VPS servers are actually still “shared” environments… but the technology used to assign resources and keep users separate is much more sophisticated.”

What Exactly is a Virtual Private Server?

A virtual private server, or virtual dedicated server (VDS), is a hosting environment that has the same basic attributes of a dedicated server (in terms of isolation, control, and customization potential) but is on a machine with a small number of other users. The VPSs that are hosted through a single physical server each have their own operating systems and software.

Typical hosting software on a VPS are a Web server, file transfer protocol (FTP) application, mail server, and potentially apps for common needs such as content creation and online sales.

Along with the desire for more power and separation, Margaret Rouse of TechTarget points out that people also like VPS plans because they can use them to manage several distinct servers. “For example,” she says, “a Web site owner might use one server for the production-level Web site and the other for a ‘dummy site’ that can be used to test planned updates, modifications or new programs.”

How a VPS Stands Out from Other Options

Again, when web design firms use shared hosting, they are running on a machine that is potentially supporting hundreds of other companies and users. Just think about sharing the capacity of a single computer with a whole community of other people, and you get the basic idea. Everyone is grabbing at the same CPU (central processing unit), storage space, and RAM (random-access memory). Your performance will undoubtedly suffer at times because the fuel needed to run your site isn’t immediately available. If you think of your site as consuming resources, shared hosting is low-budget dining, a buffet. No sweet potatoes in the pan? You’ll have to wait.

With dedicated hosting, you don’t have those limitations because the server is all yours. A dedicated server is often used by a big site with an extensive database. To continue the restaurant analogy, a dedicated server is a four-course fine-dining meal. You get all the food you order, but it’s pricey.

“A VPS (Virtual Private Server) is a flexible solution that falls in between shared and dedicated hosting, not only in price but also in the way it functions,” explains Blue Derkin of Six Revisions. “Like a dedicated server, a site hosted on a VPS gets its own RAM and disk space.” The delineation between users goes far beyond just the split of resources, though. In a VPS, you will get your own distinct operating system and – at high-quality providers – full root access. In a restaurant setting, the VPS is equivalent to your own appetizer, salad, entrée, and dessert. Don’t expect valet parking, but your food will be fresh, piping hot, and there’s no waiting in line.

One key point that companies tend to like about the VPS specifically over the dedicated server is that it allows them to shift from CAPEX to OPEX (capital expenditures to operating expenses). Simply put, rather than buying a machine and having to deal with its maintenance and manage its lifecycle, you pay as you go.

It is important to keep in mind when you review VPS options that the CPU of the hardware will be distributed among many different businesses. You want to generally know that whatever hosting service you choose offers guaranteed resources.

Derkin sums up VPS hosting in terms of affordable flexibility. “If you need root access, you can’t get that on a shared server, but you can get it on a VPS,” he says. “And, if you’re a fan of customization, then the fact that you can customize server-level software such as PHP, MySQL, and Apache will perk your interest.”

A Little Help from Your VPS Provider

There are also various degrees of support that VPS hosting services standardly provide for these servers. This range is described in terms of the extent of management provided. Here are the three basic types of support that you can get for your web design company:

Unmanaged – The VPS provider comprehensively manages and maintains the network and physical server. However, the customer is completely in charge of applications and performance configurations.

Semi-managed – Beyond the network and hardware, the hosting service also supports standard but not custom software.

Fully managed – The host manages or is available to assist with everything, including installation of custom apps.

What’s the Right Choice for Your Design Business?

A typical web design firm handles its own site along with several client sites. If that’s you, you are probably ready to leave shared hosting behind. After all, you don’t want your performance to suffer because someone else’s site is gobbling up the computing power. On the other hand, dedicated servers are a big leap, and the cost doesn’t make sense unless you really need the capacity of one.

Derkin believes that VPS is a wise choice for just about any designer. You should switch to one “if you have a large amount of files stored, multiple sites, dynamic content, and the possibility of major traffic from time to time,” he says. “It’s a powerful package that allows you to do more than you could with a shared hosting plan, but requires less investment than a dedicated server.”

*****

Are you interested in fully managed VPS hosting? At KnownHost, we offer ultra-high VPS performance with unparalleled support by professionals. Preview plans.

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