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:
- Research from 2015 “discovered that consumers rate performance above… content when evaluating their experience on [a] website,” noted Digital Tomorrow Today.
- A 2016 poll of 1029 US adult consumers, featured in MarketingCharts.com, 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:
- 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).”
- You suffer from your roommates’ errors. Your performance tanks because they install plugins that draw heavily on the resources of your shared
- 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 guarantees – no 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.
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