In the middle of a pandemic, we decided to ride 300+ miles on a bike.
As we pulled into the parking lot to start our journey we were greeted by someone asking if we were here to ride the “Best Mountain Bike Trails in the Southeast”.
We had just driven to … Florida.
Being from North Carolina, we were a little skeptical of this encounter. What was this guy talking about?! We had driven from a state that had famous mountain biking trails including, DuPont and Pisgah. Surely he was exaggerating… We had been driving for hours on flat swampland. Color me skeptical.
But as we unpacked, Jesse explained that there was a trail system nearby that had some, “pretty good trails”. But we had a couple hundred miles and a few days to reach it. Is this how myths are born? Maybe they were pulling my leg to keep my spirits up when the inevitable saddle sore and knee pain starts to creep in. The thought was quickly stashed in my back pocket as we checked our bags for the essentials, and ditching what wouldn’t fit back into the car that we’d hopefully be reunited within a few days.
You’ve heard it before – You get what you pay for.
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been questioned on why we charge what we do for hosting client’s websites. I get it. It’s not something you deal with every day. So it’s a little foreign. You might even feel swindled.
Here it comes… “But Godaddy only charges $4.99!”
Ya, you and the thousands of other websites that they’ll try and bundle yours with.
I’m going to highlight the differences in hosting packages, what you should look for, define some terminology, and throw in a couple of opinions to help you make an educated decision to pick the best hosting setup for your website.
Picking a Host
For simple sites, there are two main types of hosting. Self-hosting and managed hosting.
Self-hosting requires you to do all the work. You must install and maintain software on your server for your site to run. And when your site goes down? It’s all on you.
For most, managed hosting is probably the best answer. Managed is just what it sounds like – it’s managed for you. And because of that, it cost more. You’re not only paying for the server hardware, but you’re also paying overhead for the crew to ‘manage’ your server.
The plus side to managed hosting is that when something goes wrong, you usually can call your hosting provider and get some help. They also take care of setting up the server with the required software to run your website.
The Cost of Managed Hosting
There are many considerations when choosing a host. If you’re choosing managed hosting, you’re sure to want good support. Good and fast. Luckily, there are some companies that offer that. For me, if I can jump on chat and be connected with someone within 5 minutes, I consider that good.
Many will want a host that’s Good, Fast, and Cheap. Great, here’s a handy graphic that will help you choose.
Yep, some choices come at a cost to others. Let’s deconstruct why.
Good hosting has a number of factors. Some of these might be, security, support, setup, and reliability.
Good support is probably the most costly. In this age of computers, humans still like to talk to humans whether by phone or by chat. And while you don’t have to pay your server hardware a salary or give it vacation time, you do for your human support team! This one of the reasons we can’t choose all three in the above graphic.
What makes a website fast? Phew! Where to begin?!
There are many factors that determine how fast your website performs. But this post is focused on hosting. We’re going to save the other factors that make a website fast for another time.
What makes a fast host?
A website can run on the simplest of laptops. In reality, it doesn’t take much to make a site run. Remember, we’re talking about the average website here, not hosting Facebook or anything remotely that level. Because it doesn’t take that many resources, some hosting companies pack hundreds of websites on the same server. Enter the economy hosting plan at Godaddy. It runs at only $4.95/month. All packed in – this is called, “Shared Hosting”.
Shared hosting is exactly what it sounds like. You’re sharing a server with other websites. So, is that a problem? Well, it could be.
Imagine a bunch of websites getting up in the morning to go to work. They’re all supposed to be at work by 9am. Boom! Rush hour. Now all the websites are at a crawling pace.
Think about this. The probability of someone leaving your site jumps by a third when your site’s load time goes from 1 to 3 seconds. You can’t afford to have your site stuck in rush hour.
So what’s a solution to this? If you want a reliably faster site, you’ll have to opt-out of shared hosting. You’re going to be looking for a VPS (Virtual Private Server) or a dedicated server. Both of these options assure you that the resources you paid for will be there when you need them. If we expand the analogy of the website rush hour above, being on a VPS allows you to have your own road as you fly by all the shared hosting customers stuck in a traffic jam. But, it comes at a cost.
So how much should you pay for a VPS? Again, it depends. Since we’re still talking about the average site, you should be able to get a small VPS between $15 – $59 / month. Variations come between small configuration differences and payment schedules. Some hosts will cut a deep discount if you pay for multiple years in advance.
What makes a host cheap? As you’ve seen, there are many overlapping circumstances covered above that cause a host to be cheap. Those consisted of the type of hosting whether it be shared, a VPS, or a dedicated option. But I would say the overwhelming factor leading to the cheapness of a host is support. Basically, how many people does the company employ. This is THE biggest cost to a company. And this leads me to a company called, EIG.
If I were to write this in 2010, I might recommend hosting companies, A Small Orange or, Hostnine. But not since they got bought out by EIG.
EIG has a reputation for buying great hosting companies and then stripping their support. Remember, human support is often the greatest cost to a company. So, once your hosting company gets bought by EIG, run!
If you want cheap and can deal with a slow site every once in a while, you can absolutely go with a Shared Hosting package from any reputable managed hosting company.
But if you want reliable speed, you’ll most likely want to go with a VPS. A VPS is also a plus if you run more than one website as you can host multiple sites on a single server. But remember the traffic analogy. You don’t want one of your sites causing your others to perform poorly.