A Guide to Website Servers for Business
A big decision that you have to make for your website is where you will host your site.
Every website is hosted (stored) on a computer or group of computers somewhere in the world. Every time a visitor types in your URL (uniform resource locator) address, a computer (known as a server) sends the information to their browser. This is how your website arrives on your visitors’ devices. No matter where in the world the server is, your website pops up on their screen. That’s the magic of website hosting.
When choosing a server, there are several options to consider. All have benefits and costs that must be weighed up.
To share or not to share?
The biggest decision a lot of businesses make is whether they should use shared hosting or a Virtual Private Server (VPS). These are the two most common types of servers that businesses use to host their websites. Between the two, there are a few fundamental differences to consider:
Virtual Private Server (VPS) Hosting
With VPS hosting, you will still share the server hardware with other website owners, but there are significantly fewer websites per server and you typically get a dedicated IP address.
You receive a partitioned portion of the server, which allows more space to be allocated to your site. A significant reason businesses choose a VPS is because the website is less likely to have downtime due to what may be happening on other sites on the server.
With a VPS, you can customize the server the way you want. If you aren’t familiar with server management, the hosting company can manage on your behalf for a fee.
Your site security can be much more robust through VPS hosting. So if your business needs to protect personal data of your customers it’s worth considering a VPS.
VPS hosting is a more expensive option in terms of resources, but gives you greater customization and increased performance.
As a rule, once your website reaches more than 2000 unique visits per day, it might be time to consider a VPS. To expand your business, your customers need fast and consistent access to your webpage. This is especially true for eCommerce businesses that rely on online sales. Any downtime or slowdown can result in a loss of profit.
When you use shared hosting, your site will share the same server as many other sites. Shared web hosting is typically for smaller websites such as new bloggers, small businesses, and static sites that don’t get much traffic. It’s usually the cheapest option but comes with limited bandwidth, administration, and performance capabilities.
Of course, when you share server resources with other sites, you have some limitations.
Each server has a maximum amount of available CPUs, Memory (RAM), and disk space. Your individual website will not be able to use these resources beyond the maximum allowed. This might not pose a problem if your website doesn’t require a lot of processing power. However, on the other hand, other sites who share your server could affect your website’s performance. Essentially, this is the risk you take with a shared server hosting plan.
While shared hosting is typically very safe, security breaches can occur because a shared server cannot guarantee 100% security.
Also, consider that customer support can be more complicated with a VPS, as you will need to rely on a technical developer to be able to set it up and manage. If there is an issue, or the server goes down, it may be harder to get the support you need immediately. As a rule, if your site won’t require personal data to be stored from customers or users, you can run your website with shared hosting.
An important decision
If you’re considering the move to a VPS here are few questions to ask:
- Which features are most important to you?
- Is the cost worth the peace of mind?
- Is your business likely to expand rapidly over the next few years?
The wrong kind of hosting will leave your site unstable, slow and cause stress. It’s worth talking with a professional web developer to see which options they recommend for a business similar to yours. This will help you understand the best practices, and what can meet your website server needs for your business.