4 Reasons Why Shared Hosting is Like Fast Food

Everyone wants a great deal. Getting as low a price as possible, within reason, is essential to power your business with a shoestring budget. It’s easy to have a feeling with a business that the cheap solution is necessarily the best – you’re treating the challenge pragmatically, with as little investment as possible. Plus, the most affordable option is often the most widely available, since everyone wants to control their costs.

 

When we need hosting, as with any other business service, we want to quickly get the plan without any hassle. In wanting to check “get hosting” off our list and keep moving forward, it’s easy to set aside the health of our site. It’s a similar challenge to driving along and needing a bite to eat. The highly processed choices of fast food chains are available immediately, right on the side of the road. We can get a meal quickly, and we know it won’t cost us much. However, we know the health benefits can be devastating.

 

Steve Woody of Online Mastery suggests that shared hosting is digital junk food for your online presence. He says he feels that many people are not being cautious when it comes to the infrastructure they use to back their sites. Understandably, people who used shared hosting for their businesses are “[t]rying to increase the bottom-line and reduce cash-flow,” he says, adding that “[i]t’s easy to play naive and deal with the consequences later.”

 

Here are four reasons why it’s a good idea to go another route than shared hosting:

 

Reason #1 – You are expendable.

 

Want to be treated like a king? Unfortunately, you won’t get VIP treatment as a fast food or shared hosting customer. Shared hosting companies make money off their volume of customers – so they could really care less about whether one account stays or goes.

 

With a shared account, “there is only so far a host will ‘bend over backwards’ for you,” explains Jonathan Bailey of Bloggingpro. “If you want a host that is willing to do more for you and work with you more, you need to consider spending more money.”

 

Reason #2 – The information is misleading.

 

Shared hosting may be sold as if it is designed for smart and healthy business growth. However, like fast food, the hosting companies that focus on shared hosting are simply trying to cut costs and sell as many of plans as they can. Does the burger you eat ever look like the one in the picture? Similarly, your shared plan might not live up to the way it’s sold. One example of unreasonable shared hosting expectations is the notion of unlimited resources, which is protected with “fair use” clauses in fine print.

 

Reason #3 – Performance.

 

A shared server cuts costs for all businesses by allowing numerous people to share the same resources. It would probably annoy you to be reliant on the same cellular data plan that is being used by all the other people on your block, but that is essentially the idea with shared hosting.

 

What if you suddenly need a huge amount of resources? Think about that issue of scalability. “If one website is taking up too many resources these servers have a failsafe and the website gets shut down to prevent others from being affected,” says Woody.

 

How is this like fast food? Well, fast food is intended, like other food, to provide you with energy. However, it may be likelier that a low-nutrition meal filled with additives will leave you with symptoms of anxiety and chronic fatigue syndrome. Don’t feed your site so many French fries and chalupas that it can’t get up off the couch.

 

Reason #4 – Security.

 

Security should really be viewed as a necessary priority in an era of increased hacking and open sourcing of DDoS botnet code. You may think you don’t need to worry about hacking until you grow more. However, it’s important to know how vulnerable a site of a small business is if it does get compromised: 3 in 5 small businesses are bankrupt six months following a hack.

 

A shared server does not have the kind of distinction, separation of data, that any business should really want. It’s not a particularly careful way to host sites. What if a malicious threat such as E. coli comes along and wants to enjoy your site? Don’t let your site get food poisoning from shared hosting.

 

Why Shared Hosting is Dangerous – Exploration of Attack Steps

 

My point in this article is of course not simply to draw this parallel with fast food. It’s to suggest that shared hosting is not the right choice just because it’s simple. Like the perils of eating the wrong types of food are best explained by looking at specific issues, as explored in Fast Food Nation or Super Size Me, it helps to look in a granular way at shared exploits to understand why these servers present a weak front.

 

The InfoSec Institute looks at the shared server from the perspective of the process through which someone might compromise a site. Here are the basic stages through which a hacker might go after your site:

 

Reverse IP lookup

 

Before a hacker actually goes after your site, they will perform what’s called reconnaissance. In this manner, you can see what domains are on the shared server.

To see all the sites that are running on your server, you can use various methods, including search engines, the Linux dig command, or a free service such as YouGetSignal.

 

Server CMS enumeration

 

The next step for an attacker is often to find sites with certain types of content management system (CMS), such as WordPress. A CMS is a standard point of entry for cybercrime.

 

To understand the typical path of an attack, you want a list of the sites that are using a certain CMS. You can get a list very easily – the platforms place their name and version information in the source code.

 

You (or a hacker) can actually just build the IP and CMS lookup into a script if you want.

 

Waging a CMS attack

 

Once you have a list of sites running a CMS, you can divide it up into ones that are running WordPress, Joomla, Drupal, etc.

 

You can use a vulnerability scanner to check for weakness on any CMS installation. Another place to get information is exploits that are on file at services such as Exploit Database.

 

The vulnerability scanner will quickly give you basic details that would be helpful in attacking the site. For instance, let’s look at the use of one for WordPress, WPScan. WPScan brings up the following information:

 

  • Active plugins
  • Active themes
  • Any detected TimThumbs (a known security issue)
  • List of usernames.

 

Note that one key way an admin panel is beaten is through brute force, leveraging the fact that many websites don’t use complex passwords. This method could use a list of the most popular passwords. You can even brute-force using WPScan if the login page doesn’t have a captcha in place.

 

“Based on the strength of your wordlist there is a high probability that the passwords of wordpress admin accounts will be cracked successfully,” notes the InfoSec Institute report.

 

*****

 

The above issues with shared hosting are disconcerting – especially since it’s clear that the security protection is insufficient for businesses. Luckily a shared server is not the only option on the market.

 

Do you want to drive by the fast food options and get hosting that will instead improve the strength and vitality of your business? At KnownHost, our high-quality managed VPS hosting plans offer fast servers and a 99.9% uptime guarantee at great prices. Compare plans.

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Why Using an Independent Hosting Company Beats Out Free Publishing Services

It’s no secret that those “have a website instantly” services sound attractive. It seems like a great deal, right? Little to no coding experience necessary, a low monthly fee for everything (the site, domain, ecome-commercetall, etc.), and some kind of content management system you don’t need to install yourself. What’s not to love?

 

And then there are those free publishing content platforms that many professionals use to share their thoughts. You’re probably familiar with many of them: Medium, LinkedIn, Tumblr, and other blogging platforms. What all of these services have in common is they promise a web presence that 1. costs nothing or close to it and 2. allows you to have your content out there on the internet with little to no technical knowledge.

 

For some people, this setup is just fine. Someone with a personal blog that just wants to share their thoughts doesn’t need too complicated of a web presence. But if you’re a professional, especially a creative or someone involved in ecommerce, these free publishing platforms may not be the best solution for you.

 

If your web presence is your primary source of income, then building a website and hosting it on a managed VPS with an independent hosting company is the way to go. Does it require a little bit more work and (sometimes) cost a bit more? It can. But the benefits of “owning” your site far outweigh the cons. Let’s take a look at why free publishing platforms may not be all that they’re cracked up to be for professionals who make their money from their web business.

 

Who is Actually the Audience?

 

Let’s take a look at the more blogging based platforms (Medium, etc.) that act as content delivery services. You provide the content, Medium provides the platform and eats the costs. You pay nothing to get your voice heard. On the surface, this sounds like a great deal, but hold on. Now, to be fair, there’s nothing wrong with occasionally posting something on Medium or the like if you’re looking for specific kinds of social engagement. After all, social media is a big revenue builder. Social platforms like Tumblr and Medium have built in audiences that you may benefit from on occasion. But to go all in on them? Not so fast.

 

You’re technically working for the company you post for. That means it’s not your audience, specifically, but rather the platform’s audience. They reap all the benefits of those views which forces you to try and make the extra step of conversion through some other method. That also means you can’t make alterations to the site to better optimize it. You can’t do anything, really, outside of their terms and conditions. If your content is the source of your income, this will quickly lead to a dead end. Unless there are benefits to giving things away for free on these platforms within a larger plan, you want to stick to maintaining your own self-hosted site.

 

Data Collection and Analytics

 

This is a subset of the issues one faces in relation to audience and control when using a free site builder/host or publisher. We’ve already touched on the concept of your audience actually belonging to your platform and not to you. To take this idea further, consider how valuable insight into your audience is for your business.

 

When you’re using a site builder or content platform, you’re basically put into a dark room with a flashlight. You can see some things, but very little. It’s not very practical. You may get basic analytics (if any), but they won’t tell you much beyond how many people clicked on your post. If you’re looking to actually run a business, this is nowhere near enough information to act upon.

 

It’s no secret that having access to all the data you would want and acting on those analytics is essential to a successful web-based business. With a site you built yourself and on an independent host, you can install any kind of analytics software you want. When you have complete independence from your publishing platform, you’ll have access to actionable information like knowing where the majority of your traffic comes from, what social networks they use, the kind of content they read, and how long they’re spending on certain points of the site. From here, you can drill down and see what the conversion path looks like and its success rate.

 

You’ll also have more opportunity for audience engagement. Manage whatever comment or feedback system you would like. Install contact forms via plugin (if you’re using WordPress) or code them in. The ability to customize a site you host yourself gives you many more options. Throw in the capabilities of a VPS and you’ll see that speed and performance won’t be things your visitors complain about. Which brings us to the next point.

 

Performance

 

The performance of a site is a big deal when it comes to conversions. We’re not just talking the importance of fast load times, either. Granted, the big players don’t often go offline. But, in the event that Squarespace of WordPress.com suffers some sort of error or attack, you are powerless. There’s a customer service number, sure, but in an operation that large, there needs to be a global fix. Who knows how long it would take for your content to come back online. These big service providers also make attractive targets for things like DDOS attacks, which will make your site an indirect target.

 

These platforms can also go out of business. Medium recently cut a third of its workforce. What happens if they go out of business? What happens to all of your content? Suddenly, everything you contributed to a platform doesn’t have any value. If it lived on your own site with a hosting company you know isn’t going anywhere, you could be rest assured your content would be safe.

 

Monetization

 

If you sell products directly, it’s clear what your income source is. But maybe your revenue stream isn’t so obvious. Maybe you don’t actually sell physical products and instead rely on ad revenue or affiliate links. This is where the specific platform you use can hurt your bottom line. Some platforms don’t allow you to place ads at all, so that revenue stream goes away completely. Others allow some advertising, like Google AdSense, but limit you via their terms and conditions. There is also no guarantee the ads will display properly depending on how the platform codes its templates.

 

There is also the good chance that, eventually, the platform you publish on will want to monetize for themselves. If your visitors are suddenly blocked by paywalls, advertising that benefits the publisher (but not you), or subscriptions that lower the visitor count, this is a bad deal for you. If you are looking to monetize your site, your only real viable option is one where you control where it’s hosted.

 

Conclusion

 

By now the benefits of hosting your own site on a managed VPS are pretty clear. Why sacrifice profits and independence for a little bit more convenience? If you’ve been running your business from a variety of free publishing platforms or shared hosting services, it’s time to stop letting someone else profit from your work. Contact the team at KnownHost today and we’ll help you come up with the hosting solution that will give you back control over your web presence.

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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.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.

Conclusion

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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Advantages of Managed Dedicated Hosting for Businesses

managed dedicated server benefits

Are you familiar with how your business site is hosted? Many companies, especially smaller firms or those with a limited need for a digital footprint, use something known as “shared hosting.” This reduced cost service allows multiple sites to be hosted on one server, with resources being allocated on an as-needed basis.

This can result in sites going down due to too much resource usage. Managed VPS hosting or managed dedicated hosting eliminates this issue, along with many more.

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