There are a lot of myths around choosing a website host. It can be a minefield for a newbie and it can (sadly- often) result in tears and disaster.
- Shared hosting versus VPS versus Dedicated hosting
- Uptime and Backups
- Hosting Location and Regional Targets
- Management Console
- Software Installation
- Service and support
Shared hosting is when a single server (computer) hosts anywhere from a few hundred to a few thousand customers. Shared servers offer inexpensive pricing by distributing hardware / operational costs among its many clients. Sites on a shared server draw from a communal allotment of server resources (i.e. RAM, processing, data storage) to serve incoming requests. Shared hosting is ideal for small business websites (less than several thousand visitors per day.)
VPS or Virtual Private Servers are similar to shared hosting, but possibly a step above it. While VPS users still share space with others on a physical server, a VPS provides increased flexibility and admin control. VPS hosting allows the client to specify the amount of memory, storage, and processing capacity needed. This is not something that any of our clients have ever had to bother with, and not something that we see as being necessary for the majority of sites that we deal with. Virtual Private Servers are still tied to a single server. This means that your operating system image, data storage, and processing are all facilitated by the same server. If the server containing your VPS goes down, your product will also go offline. (Web-works only chooses hosts that offer backup and restore facilities and multiple server locations. )
Dedicated hosting is the top of the line for hosting. It’s when the hosting company provides the client (you) with an actual server, just for your website. These can be further customised /configured including RAM capacity, type and size of the hard drives, processors, and so on.
Dedicated servers mean that there is no risk of having to share bandwith, storage space or anything else with unsavory or potentially harmful websites. ALSO, your site never has to compete for resources. This type of hosting are a good choice for mission-critical applications, providing the necessary resources to assure that your product or service is always running at its best.
It is a ridiculous assertion that a shared hosting arrangement is not suitable for your site and/or that you need dedicated hosting costing hundreds of dollars a month to ensure integrity and security of your site. What a load of bollocks. The same can be said for the argument that a dedicated server is required to ensure search engine ascendancy. Also bollocks.
Search engine ‘domination’ lasts longer and is far better achieved by the construction of a good, solid, well-structured website that follows the “rules”, both written and unwritten. Ooooohh! There will be the odd SEO “expert” reading this thinking, “Steady on, of course they need dedicated hosting, thats how they get 100% uptime.” Actually: No! NO host can ever gaurantee 100% uptime. That’s why many promote 99.99% uptime. That way, after a 5 minute outage due to a server malfunction (it happens!), they can say, “Well 5 minutes, out of the 525600 minutes in a calendar year, exceeds 99.99% uptime
I have hosted sites with the more expensive dedicated hosts and I continue to organise hosting on shared servers. I can say from over 18 years experience, that the best service and support (by far) has come from a shared server arrangement. Proactive and personalised service is always far superior with a small company than it is with a large corporate.
Am I getting discount/kickback or incentives for promoting this type of arrangement, or a particular hosting provider? NO Not one brass razoo.( I am however, open to suggestions! Nah, just kidding).
The biggest issue that need to be considered when choosing a host, is their geographical location. There is absolutely no value (Actually, less than none) in choosing a USA-based host for a New Zealand website, targeting a New Zealand audience. If you are targeting a global audience, and you have competition for your product, then you need to use a .com address and host mirror sites, located in each of the regions you are targeting.
eg: If you want to target an audience in China, then host a mirror (copy)of your site on a China-based host, using a China-based server. Purchase a .cn domain name for your site and use that.
The easy way to achieve this is to use a service that “regionalises” your site and hosting for you…… but that is a whole different story.
You do want a host that has multiple servers, and even better if they are in different locations (For example: The main server is in Christchurch, backup, server in Auckland, or the main server in Auckland and backup server in Dunedin) That way if, a fire/tsunami/earthquake/act of God/ human stuffs up one server – even the current one, then a backup can be bought online within minutes. Ironically, I don’t know of any Hosts that don’t have backup facility.
Management Console: You want a host that has a really solid and easy to use management console. I have used a few and some of them have driven me nuts. (It’s okay. I’m better now!) By far, the best one (EVER) is Cpanel. Easy to use. Logical. User friendly. Forgiving. It is perfect. AND ITS FREE. Hosts should not be charging for this. I have had several sites hosting on Plex sites, but Plex seriously underperforms agaisnt CPanel
Installation Software: You want a good, comprehensive installation package, so you can do one click installations of platforms on your site. Softaculous is by far the easiest and ‘best’ one to use. I can install anything from a Blog/CMS to a full-fledged library or personal/private version of Facebook, with just one click. Softaculous comes as part of CPanel
All of the commercial sites that I am currently responsible for are hosted on shared servers located in Christchurch or Auckland. In all cases, I make a backup (daily/and or weekly) using a management console, my hosts also provide free server-level back up and I also use a (free) backup service through CPanel.
If you are after a recommendation for a New Zealand-based host to use for New Zealand websites, I recommend webhostingnz.com
I have had the best service ever from them and apart from a couple of glitches when they were under attack by a DOS and things went a little pear-shaped (for them) they have pretty much delivered 99.9% uptime and plenty of support for me. They are one of the most cost-effective in the game in NZ as well. AND NO…. this is not a free plug for them. They really are good.