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What web hosting do I need?

Choosing the right web hosting is an important consideration to achieving a greasy-quick website and making sure it stays online. All hosting packages are not created equal and the temptation to choose the cheapest is overwhelming, especially for new companies or start-ups. But, you get what you pay for and if website speed and performance is a concern for you, it’s worth paying a bit more for it.

Shared hosting

Most brochure-style websites can work well on what is called ‘shared hosting’. This is exactly what it sounds like and your website will share space on a server with many other websites. Not only will you be sharing space, but you will also be sharing resources like bandwidth, RAM (memory) and CPU capacity. This means that your site could be slowed down if other sites on the server are using the lion’s share of the resources. Shared hosting can be obtained from only a few pounds each month and while most basic websites are fine on shared hosting, if you are the owner of a larger website with lots of functionality, or an ecommerce site, you probably should take the next step up.

VPS hosting

Preferable, is VPS hosting which is still essentially shared hosting, i.e. lots of other websites on the same server, but you are allocated your own ‘fair share’ of resources. This means that your site won’t suffer speed-wise and its resources are protected if other websites are resource-heavy. In other words, they will be using their share of the server’s divided resources rather than dipping into yours as on standard shared hosting. VPS hosting is usually a few tens of pounds each month and worth the cost if your website is more demanding of resources.

Dedicated hosting

Dedicated hosting is better again but can be hugely expensive costing several hundred pounds each month. Dedicated hosting is basically your own private server which is not shared with any other sites. However, dedicated servers have resource limits too and it’s still possible to run out of them leading to websites crashing or becoming slow. There are still companies using this type of hosting but, in recent years, dedicated servers have fallen out of favour with the advent of cloud hosting.

Cloud hosting

Basic cloud hosting can be set up from around £100 per month but if offers flexible and scalable resources which gives larger companies total control of the resources needed to maintain their websites. National and global organisations, especially ecommerce companies, will use cloud hosting to make sure they suffer no website down time. If they are running an online promotion, e.g. a spring sale, they will allocate more resources to the server to cope with the expected spike in visitor traffic. Remember when websites went down when popular concert tickets went on sale? The ability to allocate extra resources prevents this from happening and they can then be removed after the promotion is over and the traffic calms down.

Which is right for you?

The best thing to do is to speak to your website developer about which type of hosting will suit your site the best. It’s honestly not worth scrimping on hosting fees if it’s going to mean your site is slow – website visitors are impatient and will just leave. In addition, if your site becomes a success, which is kind of what you want, be prepared to have the site migrated to more powerful hosting further down the line which will mean, inevitably, higher hosting costs.

If you notice your site has slowed down or is taking an age to load then there could be a few things causing this. It could be a poor choice of server, or it could be myriad other things that have more to do with the site’s build, coding or content. Again, ask your developer to make a few investigations to ascertain what could be causing a sluggish website. If you’d like some help and advice, please get in touch and we’ll be able to point you in the right direction.

Posted in Help and Advice, User Experience

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