Why Your Choice Of Hosting Matters So Much
When going through the process of creating a website, the hosting is often only given cursory consideration. The perception is that all hosting is much the same, but that’s certainly not the case. Here are some considerations to take into account when buying hosting.
Linux or Windows
Often when buying hosting people will select Windows, because that’s what they use on their own computer. In reality, Linux is usually best, unless you’re running your website on asp.net which is a Windows-only technology, or if you are running a static HTML site, in which case it doesn’t really matter what platform you pick.
If you’re running a site that uses PHP or Ruby or node.js, then you’ll want to pick Linux. Many of these technologies will run on Windows, they just work better on Linux. On Windows, you may see issues to do with file permissions, or to do with the different file path formats, or some other small difference that can throw a spanner in the works. I am running WordPress sites on Windows hosting, and it does work – mostly, but in general life is easier with Linux.
Now that Content Management Systems like WordPress are the dominant platform for websites, the demand for resources has increased dramatically from the days of mainly static sites. A basic WordPress install runs to many megabytes, theme and plugin files will add many more megabytes, and that’s before you begin to factor in images, backups and cache files. An active website can consume many gigabytes of hard disk space and many 100s of gigabytes of bandwidth (the network traffic generated every time someone visits your site). There are other resource limits like number of domains allowed on one hosting account, number of email addresses allowed, etc. that may influence the decision of who you host with.
I think the widescale adoption of CMS systems caught many hosting providers by surprise and they’ve been struggling ever since to provide a quality shared hosting product at an affordable price. It’s better to buy the right package right away, as moving or upgrading later can prove costly.
Performance is related to resources, and has been our main source of trouble with hosting platforms in the last year. With shared hosting (the usual type of hosting), you get a small slide of a physical server. You may share the resources of that server with several hundred other providers. If your hosting provider is overselling (putting too many customers on one server, or not watching for rogue users that use more than their fair share of resources, or running on outdated hardware, you’re going to have performance problems. These performance problems tend to be erratic – sometimes the site is fine, sometimes it’s really slow, sometimes it’s entirely unreachable. If your site won’t load in 5 or so seconds, many potential visitors will lose patience and go elsewhere.
cPanel is the dominant hosting control panel these days, and most people find it easy to use. It comes with all the management features you would expect for your website, database, email, etc. Often it will come with a one-step installer also for popular web applications like WordPress, Joomla, Magento, etc. If you’re unsure of a prospective hosting provider’s control panel software and available features, ask for a demo.
Good support is a prerequisite for any hosting package, and it’s hard to find. Many hosting companies work on tight margins, and support is often squeezed. The sales line will be picked up right away, but be prepared for a long wait on the tech support line. Some companies won’t even take calls – you’ll need to open a ticket. This can actually be a good thing, as it leaves a paper trail, so long as the tickets are responded to in a reasonable period of time and support exists evenings and weekends.
Due to the frustration some of our customers were having with their hosting providers, we decided to offer our own hosting service. Performance is great, as our server runs on fast SSD disks. Resource allocations are respectable. It comes with excellent support, and cPanel with a one step installer. If you’re currently shopping, why not take a look at our fast web hosting here?