Over the years, shared hosting plans have become so inexpensive that it’s almost ridiculous for any business not to have a web presence with some kind of website. When we first started our business which included website hosting back in 1998, hosting costs for a website could be $1,000.00 per year or more! And you did not get a whole lot for that price back then, compared to today – but many businesses understood that having a web presence was going to be more important than an advertisement in the Yellow Pages.
A dedicated co-located server could cost over $1,500 a month, and that did not include support and server maintenance costs. Back in those days, a T-1 was considered “high speed” with most people still accessing the internet on slow dial-up modems.
Now, there is fierce competition for shared hosting and the service can be available for ridiculously low prices. At the same time, the lower the cost, the less performance, support, and quality you are going to receive. Many hosting companies that are selling hosting subscriptions are counting on the vast majority of website accounts to use up a small amount of resources and bandwidth – and will often claim things like “unlimited space, unlimited bandwidth.” However, you need to read the small print of the Terms of Service – and you’ll realize that these promises of “unlimited this and that” are not really true.
We’ve seen businesses have their hosting accounts suspended by some hosting providers for storing too much email, storing files that were not directly related to their website content, and also for having their website come under a distributed denial of service (DDOS) attack, or for some bot constantly hitting the site, probing for known insecure URL’s or other vulnerabilities.
Problems With Shared Hosting
For many individuals and businesses, shared hosting is probably fine, assuming you’re with a decent hosting company in the first place. If you’re not doing e-commerce, get low traffic, don’t use IMAP and don’t want to store years worth of email, it’s probable that as long as your hosting company provides a decent level of service, you’re fine. But, if you’re serious about your business, want it to grow, and continued performance is important to you, then you may want to consider upgrading to dedicated hosting services – perhaps with a Virtual Private Server (VPS).
Shared Resources Cause Performance Issues
Being on a shared server means sharing server resources with hundreds and even thousands of other hosting clients! If one or two of those accounts starts receiving heavy traffic or is running scripts that are memory or CPU intensive, it’s going to affect the performance of your website significantly.
When you are depending on your website for selling products and services, marketing, and promoting your business, performance issues caused by other shared hosted websites will negatively affect you.
In addition, slow response times will also negatively affect your rankings in search engines.
Shared Hosting Can Cause Email Deliverability Issues
If you’re sending email through your hosting email server, it is possible that other accounts on the same shared server have sent out spam. If so, the email server could be at risk of being listed in a “blacklist” that is used by other networks to reduce spam. Having control over your own server resources reduces this risk greatly.
While it can happen that when you move to a dedicated or VPS service, that the IP address assigned has been previously blacklisted, it usually takes just hours, and at most a couple of days, to sort the issue out. After correct configuration including SPF records, the reputation of the IP address when you have control over it can be restored.
Having your email blocked because your email server has been seen to deliver spam is not a great thing at all!
Shared Hosting Can Cause Security Issues For Your Website
Security is a process and the only way to fully secure your PC, website, or device is to unplug it from the internet and turn it off. Seriously. There are constantly new vulnerabilities found in applications and no one can ever guarantee 100% security. However, there are numerous ways to reduce and minimize risk – but unfortunately, website hosting companies don’t have the time or resources to be constantly aware of every single vulnerability. This is a problem on shared hosting; an account may have some application installed that is inherently insecure and that gives access to a server component, and ultimately infecting your website as well.
There is no guarantee that a VPS will protect you from this – if you install software that has vulnerabilities, it will affect you. However, you or your server manager can reduce the risks and you have more control over what is installed.
Security issues also can affect your search engine rankings.
Shared Hosting Runs Risks Of Automatic Suspension And/Or Deletion
We’ve seen this before. A client that has chosen to host with a shared hosting account calls in a panic, “Our website is down! Help!” When we look into it, we discover that server resource monitoring software has suspended the account because the account has been found to be using high system resources. This means that the account is affecting the performance and speed of the other accounts hosted on the server.
Really, the web hosting company is doing the right thing, even though you might not understand and it’s frustrating to get cryptic emails advising you that your website is using up server resources. Sometimes it can be difficult to figure out what is causing the issue; often it’s because of a bot hitting your site over and over. But to protect its other clients and customers, the hosting company must shut you down until the problem is rectified. Often, this can mean simply firewalling off an IP address, but it can take time to investigate the problem and then report back how it was solved before your site is live again.
But, you end with downtime that could cost you!
How often do you make a full backup of your website?
You don’t need to answer that – we already know the likely answer! You’re likely depending on your hosting company for this, and they probably do a pretty good job. But, even with RAID for redundant backup, things can go wrong. What happens if your hosting company has a big issue, and it takes them a long time to restore everything? You could of course, move your website (assuming you have a full backup – which you should, regardless of your hosting company’s past track record is) but that’s going to take time. DNS changes can also take time to propagate.
Today’s VPS services can handle this type of catastrophe quite well with daily snapshots and restoration within just an hour or two!
Spam Fighting Is Harder On Shared Hosting
Fighting email spam is resource intensive, and most hosting providers really can’t do a whole lot to help you with spam. Your own dedicated server or VPS however, opens up more possibilities with regard to spam fighting. We recently migrated a client over to a VPS and instituted some nifty anti-spam measures; their spam emails dropped from around 100 per day to an average of 7! And most of that was correctly filtered into their Junk email folders as well.
So, Should You Consider A VPS or Dedicated Server?
Straight up, “No, you should not” if your website is not a major part of your business, and you don’t care about extended downtime risks, performance issues, or you are just “kicking the wheels” so to speak with a website. But for the life of us, we are not sure why so many businesses treat their website like this!
Even if your business is doing great right now and your website is just a small part of that, what about next year? Business cycles can change, and maybe next year, you’ll be regretting that you didn’t spend a bit more time and resources on ensuring your website is populated with great content, and ranking at least half decently in organic and/or local search.
How Much Is This Going To Cost Me?
Good question, but then we find it an odd question at times. Many people seem to have the expectation that in today’s internet age, they can spend less on marketing and advertising. Back in the 1990’s, business owners wouldn’t balk at paying over $200.00 a month for an effective Yellow Pages ad. But who uses Yellow Pages anymore? No one. That two to three hundred a month can be put to far more effective website and hosting than any type of directory advertising can, today!
In the internet age, marketing budgets shouldn’t really decrease; rather they should be used to more effectively and efficiently market products and services. Your website and website hosting ought to be a solid part of that.
Five years ago, we would not recommend paying the prices that were being asked for dedicated VPS services, but today, technology has improved greatly and costs have come down. In fact, you can get a powerful VPS for about double the cost of your monthly shared hosting! However, you will need to know some Linux server management, security hardening, maintenance, and troubleshooting. You will need to learn server management or have someone you can rely on to fix issues (they do come up from time to time), configure server services and components, and look after things for you.
But when you do this, you’ll also reap some great benefits in not being subject to performance issues caused by others, or at the whim of someone who has decided that your website or hosting account has broken some TOS (Terms of Service) and you find your site has been suspended.
Okay, I’m Ready To Take My Website And Hosting Seriously
Great. We have a variety of maintenance programs that include server management, security hardening and we can throw in some website maintenance hours every month as well, at very affordable prices! We can configure everything for you, migrate your website and databases, and ensure full backups. In fact, we’re saving customers money based on a per annum basis for what they were paying before billed on an hourly basis, with our great maintenance packages that include everything you need to ensure high performance and uptimes, along with security.
Get in touch with us today to find out how we can help you!