The perils of cheap, budget web hosting
A frequently asked question we get, and the reason why we wrote this blog post is:
“Why are some web hosting services more expensive than a cheap 3rd party service I can get from well-known web hosting companies, and why should I choose the more expensive option?”
Much like cheap budget web design, web hosting has become a race to the bottom unfortunately.
Websites for 300 quid, web hosting for 3 quid a month – how do they do it? Are you being taken advantage of by companies charging much more? Web hosting is web hosting, surely its mostly the same thing regardless of the provider?
This is an incorrect assumption for most website owners, and it’s one of these things that you only really learn from experience, usually a pretty bitter and horrible experience.
In fact, we talk to people who repeat this mistake over and over, thinking its normal for a web hosting service to go down on a frequent basis, or to be left in the lurch when their web hosting support people aren’t able to help, or just advise to upgrade to a ‘better server’.
It becomes the ‘norm’ that web hosting services just do that, they go down every few days and your website isn’t accessible, or the service is painfully slow. This isn’t the norm. It should be an absolutely exceptional circumstance for your website to be down, and your web hosting service should never be causing your website to load slowly for visitors.
It’s hard to blame a website owner for falling into this trap, they normally have much more important things to worry about than understanding the complexity of hosting a website on the internet, especially when all web hosting plans seem to do the same thing.
How is a 3 quid per month GoDaddy website plan different to a company charging 20, 50, or 100 quid per month for a web hosting plan? Surely its just economies of scale and the bigger companies can just offer more competitive prices?
As we said earlier, this is one of those things that you just learn from experience, but nevertheless this blog post is aimed at people who may not have had that (often awful) experience, and an attempt to explain that using cheap budget web hosting is in most cases an absolutely terrible decision for your business.
If you compare web hosting plans that have the same specification – the same disk space, domains, bandwidth, databases etc, then it’s the same thing?
NO. A web hosting plan specification is not how to compare two different suppliers!
We have been building websites for over 15 years and when we built some of our earliest websites we used various different web hosting companies, the same kind of companies that you see advertised on TV and radio these days, GoDaddy, 1&1, HostGator, Fasthosts etc.
We have used more than 20 different web hosting companies over the years, so we have a very good idea of how large web hosting companies perform generally, and the strengths and weaknesses they have.
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 affect 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, it’s 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.
In terms of the specification of the service, disk space, domains, bandwidth, databases etc, most web host companies oversell the resources on their servers. This means that if every customer fully utilised their resources everything would grind to a halt, in fact it simply wouldn’t be possible to utilise some resources as they simply aren’t there – the servers don’t have that much disk space for example.
At Problue Solutions we don’t oversell any resources, whatever is advertised on the specification is fully available to utilise with no issues.
Large hosting companies feel no real obligation to you or your business - their support people won't be panicking to solve your issues.
When you host with a large web hosting company you are literally just a client number to them. They have no understanding of your business or what you do. They don’t care what your website does or how critical it may be to you.
At a few quid per month, why would they?
Almost all shared hosting plans are ‘unmanaged’ which means any support you receive will be limited to problems with the hosting platform itself. If you have issues specific to how your website is running on the hosting platform, the level of support you can expect to receive will be between non-existent to mediocre.
We know all of our web hosting clients by name. We know what their business is about and what their website does. This allows us to offer a much superior level of fully-managed personalised support and we can ensure that your website ‘just works’.
Ownership of your web hosting platform
A common reason that many business owners give for using a 3rd party web host is that they want to retain full control of their website, and don’t want to be in a situation where their website can somehow be held ‘ransom’ if they ever fall out with their web developer.
If you are working with a web designer/developer who retains full control of your web hosting platform then they are doing it wrong and you should run away fast!
Our web hosting customers retain full control of the hosting account, in exactly the same way they would with a 3rd party web host. We provide full hosting account control panel login details so our clients have full unrestricted access to their website and data. Of course they never have to actually log in or do anything if they don't want to, our service is fully managed which means we do everything for you, this access is provided purely for peace of mind that you or your new web developer/web host can directly access your data.
Our clients can download and move their website to another provider at any time without requiring any assistance from us. In addition to this, we are more than happy that our clients use a domain name that is registered in their own name at any provider of their choice. Or if they would like to register their domain directly with us, we will ensure it is registered in the clients own name and that they have direct access to transfer the domain away if they ever want to, without relying on us to do anything for them.
With the above protections, it is impossible for us to hold a client’s site to ‘ransom’, or to deny any access to their own data and in the unlikely event that our service can no longer be provided, the client can simply switch to another provider who will make a small change on their domain name to switch over – there is no intervention required from us at all.
Using a cheap 3rd party web host is not a good idea in most cases. If you have an extremely basic and simple website that isn't vital to your business then you might get away with it.
For everything else you need a better web hosting service.
Our shared web hosting service is competitively priced and excellent value for money, especially when compared to plans offered by well-known hosting companies (in terms of both technical features and quality of support) and we also offer Virtual Private Servers and Dedicated Servers.
If you would like to discuss web hosting with us, just get in touch.