Even a perfectly optimised website is only as good as its hosting. However, businesses tend to underestimate the importance of choosing the right website host. That’s because the differences between providers are not easy to understand. Everyone advertises as the best, the fastest, and quite often the cheapest. Here’s what we’ve learned about website hosts when choosing a best-in-class partner for our websites.
The market has forced hosting companies to become flexible. Most of the time you won’t have issues going to a higher tier of hosting. Upgrading when you see a constant increase in visitors doesn’t sound like an issue at first. However, it’s not always a simple process.
How much of an upgrade do you need? Is the next tier tailored to your needs, or are you paying for an unnecessary 50GB of disk space together with the much-needed bandwidth increase?
We opted for a best-in-class partner that offers unlimited scalability at no additional costs. When building a website for a client we have full confidence in our hosting platform. Whether it’s a startup that goes viral or an established company looking for steady growth, our websites will always perform flawlessly.
Securing the data of your company and its customers is one of the most important tasks. Attackers constantly look for ways to penetrate websites and it’s rarely just about a specific site. With WordPress, discovering a vulnerability on a single page means thousands of others are exposed.
Developing a secure business website and monitoring it around the clock is vital, but even then you could still be at risk. That’s why it’s important to find a host that uses a rigid firewall. Our hosting partners offer protection from attacks such as SQL injection (targeting the database), Cross-Site Scripting (executing malicious scripts in vulnerable web applications, such as WordPress plugins) and Cross-Site Request Forgery (“cookie theft”).
The traffic coming to your site is monitored to determine whether your website is being accessed by real people or malicious automated networks.
Last but not least, make sure your host offers Denial of Service protection. These attacks use distributed networks to drive fake traffic to your website, effectively slowing the site down or causing an outage altogether.
Backups further improve the reliability of your site in case of vulnerability or malfunction. The most important thing here is ensuring your hosting is offering offsite backups.
These backups are stored on a different server, meaning that not only can you restore your site to the desired state, but they’re immune to the failures of the server that hosts your website.
If you’re in London, travelling to Berlin to purchase something is much slower than doing it in the capital of England. While it’s on a smaller scale, the Internet isn’t much different.
Hosting a website in Berlin while having most of your audience in the UK, or even further away, will affect your load times. That’s where a Content Distribution Network (CDN) comes in.
CDN stores copies of the static elements of your website on a global network of servers, improving the load times.
Not only does it improve the performance, but also helps with the scalability of your website. CDNs can spread the traffic to your site between the servers in the network. It helps with both steady traffic growth and occasional spikes.
Hosting services require reliable around-the-clock support. Without a way to contact your host 24/7, security and reliability are tarnished.
Outages and attacks don’t happen on a schedule, businesses operate in different time zones and some issues can’t be fixed remotely. Being able to easily contact the hosting provider at all times is crucial for your web developers.
Finally, in our efforts to be as environment-friendly as possible, we suggest asking the host about green energy. While it might be hard to find the perfect solution that’s green, some hosting providers are eco-friendly without even knowing it.
Some of them use Google data centres or Amazon Web Services, which are at least partially using green energy to power their servers.
“Free” and “unlimited” almost always come with restrictions. When you’re bombarded with buzzwords instead of vital facts we’ve mentioned above, it’s a red flag.
Knowing what drives your servers is obviously important, but it’s also a lot of unnecessary information for you. If you’re not leaving it up to your web agency, knowing that your site will be hosted on an SSD rather than a hard drive should suffice.
If the amount of RAM and the CPU model are mentioned somewhere on the side, that’s good. Transparency is always welcome. However, if it becomes a buzzword and something you’re constantly exposed to, it’s slightly suspicious.
Showcasing technical specification too much is like a benchmark trap – seeing a high benchmark score is great but out-of-context numbers aren’t helpful at all.
Hosting with website builders can be good for small personal projects, but not for businesses. The ease of creating a drag-and-drop website comes with a lot of restrictions.
Reading the terms of service you often learn that you don’t own your website. On top of that, website builders aren’t strictly offering hosting service. Because of that, you’re very limited as to what you can do with the website and server space.
Ultimately, we advise leaving the choice of your hosting to your web agency. Nerd Cow specialises in full-cycle website builds. Having developed a comprehensive process, we use our expertise to create the perfect website for your business.
We host our website exclusively with our partners. Your web agency is responsible for all the performance aspects of a site – leaving the choice of hosting up to them is almost a no-brainer.
In case of a rare scenario where your company is responsible for the choice of a hosting plan, we hope our tips helped you pick the best service.
Originally published Sep 19, 2019 10:10:02 AM, updated October 23 2020.