The need for hosting is one of those essential pieces that every website and eCommerce site has in common. Like it or not, we need it. But for so many of us, we choose a host when we launch our site, and we never really think about it again until 1) something breaks or 2) another change makes a hosting change necessary. But we don’t think hosting should be something that is relegated to the basement of our website solutions.
So let’s say you wanted to take a fresh look at hosting… where would you start and what would you look for? Really, the first consideration is what type of site you have.
- If you have an eCommerce solution like so many of our clients do, you should at least consider a single tenant or cloud storage solution. The bottom line is that you don’t want the downtime of your site to be dictated by other websites sharing the same server.
- Consider your flexibility needs… does your company have seasonal peaks and valleys with traffic and data transfer? If so, consider a solution that allows you to increase the server specs or decrease them as the traffic dictates.
- This one varies more than all of the rest, but consider the downtime you can afford if something goes wrong, and choose a host that aligns with that. You can pay premiums for 15 minutes SLAs or save money knowing that the response might take a business day or two. This isn’t a one size fits all issue.
As an agency, we are focused on Magento and the eCommerce space. So the recommendations that we offer are largely focused in those scenarios. For a deeper dive, we’ve put together an overview of hosting included below. We’ve also included the hosting partners that we have had the most success with over the years.
What is hosting?
Hosting or Web Hosting is the term used to describe the services that allow a website to be a part of the internet. At it’s core, a website is a bunch of data that, thanks to computer languages, is translated to display as the web pages we know today. And because a site is all data, that data needs a place to be stored, and the hosting service is what allows that.
Diving deeper, the ability to host happens through servers, which are powerful computers focused on the transfer of data to and from other computers accessing the data. And they are often stored in centralized locations, together. This is for many reasons, but in large part, by storing them together, the company managing the servers can easily access them physically as well as provide the same service to every site using them (this is because the location of a server can play a role in the delivery of data around the world – but more on that later).
Just like a computer for your home or office, servers used for hosting have a wide range of capabilities, some faster than others, some with more storage space than others. These are the two main attributes of the physical server to consider, but there are many other factors that also play a role. Here is an example: Company A has a hosted website on a server with 10 GB of storage and 100 GB of bandwidth (how many users can access the data at once). Throughout the year, this is enough to keep the website running smoothly. But then, Company A runs a very successful holiday promotion and their traffic increases ten times! Sure, this is a great success for Company A, but the hosting server can’t handle the increase in traffic and the site crashes. Essentially, Company A needs to plan to have a higher capacity for these rare times, or they need a hosting server that can provide flexible space and bandwidth as needed.
That’s another positive to centralized hosting and cloud hosting. The flexibility to ‘spin up more servers’ as our partners say, when needs arise. But many times, you pay for flexibility and security. The less maintenance your host needs to provide, the cheaper it is to host with them.
Shared servers are a popular solution among smaller hosting companies focused on simpler, WordPress sites. The general concept is that your site lives on a server that also hosts other sites. This keeps costs low for websites that don’t need as much bandwidth, the solution has it’s drawbacks. The largest of which is that downtime for one means downtime for all… so your site can’t stand alone and is at the mercy of the shared sites. For some, this risk is minimal. Consider blogs and other non-commerce sites where there isn’t revenue related to uptime. In eCommerce, this risk is far greater because downtime could risk revenue and hurt your profits.
What defines hosting options from one another?
- Types of Servers (shared versus single-tenant and cloud versus hard servers)
- Storage Space
- Flexibility with Storage and Bandwidth
- Downtime Turnaround
Our Preferred Partners
|Cloud/Hard||AWS Cloud||Both||Both||Multiple Cloud Options|
|Size||Auto Scalable||Auto Scalable||Auto Scalable||Scalable|
|Ticket Response Time||< 15 Minutes available||< 15 Minutes available||Varies||Varies|
|CDN||Cloudfront Included||Available (Add on)||Available (Add on)||Available (Add on)|
*Actual results and costs may vary based on the selected plan.