Our thoughts on web hosting services
We've hosted websites for over a decade, managed from Northern Ireland and hosted on servers in the UK, France, Germany and the USA. We've been a customer ourselves of web hosting companies for even longer, almost two decades. We've gained a lot of experience in that time and we want to share some of that experience in this blog post.
Every website on the internet requires a web hosting service. For very basic websites that get very little traffic and aren't overly important, web hosting isn't something that matters very much, usually the cheapest option is chosen, and sometimes that’s absolutely fine.
If you already have a website its more than likely hosted by either the people who created your website, or by one of the large well known web hosting companies.
Have you ever experienced issues with your web hosting service? If you've never once had an issue, you are very lucky and you should stay with your current web host - you've struck gold!
There are literally hundreds of thousands of web hosting providers out there, and you may have heard of the biggest names in the business: Godaddy, 1&1, FastHosts, Hostgator, Siteground, Bluehost etc. At Problue Solutions we have used almost every large well-known web host over the course of the last 20 years, so we have first-hand experience with these web hosting companies, as a customer.
We know all about the pain and misery of using large well-known web hosting companies!
Web Hosting Resellers
Most web design/development companies offer web hosting as a service in addition to creating your website, and a significant majority will provide this service via a “reseller” plan with one of the big web hosting companies. What does this mean? It basically means that they are selling on a web host plan and taking a small cut of the profit. You won’t pay any more than normal, it’s the web host company that makes a smaller profit than normal in this scenario.
What it does mean though is that your web designer/developer is not actually providing the service. In terms of technical support and accountability it’s the large web host company who is proving the service, your web designer/developer has merely acted in a sales agent type of role.
The advantage of this for you as a client is that you are being provided a service by a large established company, the disadvantage is that your web designer/developer has no responsibility at all for the service. If there are problems you will be dealing with the large web host company directly.
Even if your web designer acts as a go-between, it's ultimately a level 3 call centre guy who's dealing with support requests, and whatever your issue may be, you can be sure its not as important to them as it is to you.
Types of Web Hosting Plan
There are a few main types of web hosting plan:
- Shared hosting
Your website is located on a server (a high-powered PC) along with other websites. If a website is hacked or experiences huge amounts of traffic it can potentially affect other websites on the same server.
If your website is expected to receive low to moderate numbers of visitors, and you do not have any industry specific or corporate concerns regarding security of data, then it’s likely your website will be on shared hosting. The quality of service you will receive on shared hosting can differ hugely from provider to provider.
A large well-known web hosting company will cram as many accounts as they can onto a shared server to maximise profit, and they will charge very low prices for these services. The two major problems that you can run into here are too many restrictions on resources, or not enough restrictions on resources.
A web host may impose very strict restrictions on what your website can do and what resources are available to it so that they can ensure your website (or someone else’s website) doesn’t bring the whole server down and effect hundreds of other customers.
However, this means that it can be a real headache to get modern, cutting edge website technologies to work, they just require more than what is available on these hosting plans. On the other hand, if the shared hosting plan is too generous and not so strict then your website (or someone else’s) could use too many resources on the server and bring down other websites.
It’s a delicate balancing act, and in the case of large web hosting companies where they cannot possibly know the exact nature of each website being hosted on their servers, its impossible for them to offer both stability and flexibility at the same time. Our web hosting service at Problue Solutions solves these problems, because we don't have to worry about what else might be on our servers, and we can fine-tune everything to run smoothly for everyone.
- Virtual Private Server (VPS)
Your website is isolated from any other website and can’t be affected by other websites, but it is still on the same physical server as other virtual private servers.
A VPS isn’t subject to the shared hosting issues described above. Your VPS is allocated guaranteed resources which aren’t shared with anyone else. One consideration, although quite rare, is that if a hacker somehow manages to access the ‘root’ of the physical server via someone else’s VPS then they could potentially access your VPS or bring your website down.
- Dedicated Server
Your website is on its own physical server, completely separated from any other server.
Your website is basically on it its own PC, a physical box separated from anything else. Typically, the reason why you would have a dedicated server as opposed to a VPS is purely because larger memory and disk space requirements mean a distinct physical machine is required.
However, there is also the advantage that it is impossible for any hacker to gain access to your website via another client, no matter how advanced their attack may be. The fact that your website is on its own physical server means that there is only one way into your data, and that’s through your own website.
Location Of Web Hosting
Does it matter where your web hosting service is located? It depends on what your concerns are.
- Legal/Compliance Issues
European Union laws protect both companies and web hosts as well as consumers across many data protection laws, including GDPR. If your website is hosted within the EU you can assure your users that their data is protected.
A web host which stores data outside the EU, in the USA or even in post-brexit UK, cannot offer the same assurances on the protection of user data. A transition period is underway for many of these post-brexit law changes, but the reality is that a server based in the UK is probably not where a user wants their data stored in the future.
Do you know where your web hosts servers are located? Our servers are based in the EU, Falkenstein, Germany to be specific. It's important to many of our clients that we can provide full data protection compliance.
Although speed of web hosting services can have significant effects on how fast your website loads for a user, the actual geographic location of the server is a minor consideration in the grand scheme of things.
How servers are configured and how websites are built contribute to the vast majority of a websites speed. The geographic location of the sever adds a minimal lag. If you are in the UK and accessing a US server you might see a very, very slight delay compared to accessing a UK server. For the most part it would be imperceptible.
If you already have a website and you have been having issues with your web host, we would love to hear from you. On the other hand, you may not have considered many of the points raised in this blog post. Our only advice is to not wait until things go wrong, and if you suspect there may be issues over the horizon with your webhost, move to a more reputable provider as soon as you can. At Problue Solutions we povide Free migration of websites to our hosting service, we will take care of moving your website.
These are some of the main things for a business to consider when choosing a web host, but if you have more questions after reading this blog post we would be happy to discuss with you, get in touch.