Ultimate-Guide-to-Web-Hosting-and-Servers-for-SMEs
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December 2, 2022

Scaling Your Business 10 min read

Complete Guide to Web Hosting and Servers for Your SME

Despite the growing popularity of ecommerce websites and businesses adopting online strategies, many are still at loss on how to get started. That must be why you’re here — and you’re not alone. A lot of people who wish to transition online are unaware of the underlying technicalities when setting up a website.

Among the first things you need to understand when establishing an online business are the basics of web hosting. This is a crucial component of running your website and making it accessible to anyone in the world.

If you’re new to this, choosing the right hosting for your business website can get complicated, but we’re here to show you the ropes. From how it works to its different types to choosing the right one for your specific business needs, here’s everything you need to know about servers and hosting.

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Table of Contents: 

What is Web Hosting?

Different Types of Web Hosting You Need to Know

Best Ways to Determine Your Web Hosting Needs

Main Hosting Issues and How to Resolve Them

Telltale Signs that You’re in Dire Need of a Hosting Upgrade

What is Web Hosting?

Web hosting is how you make your website available to anyone accessing it online. It is a secure virtual space on a physical server to store and process your website's images, codes, text, and other files for stable and consistent access.

Hosting is a critical part of your online presence. The resources and technology behind your hosting determine your website’s performance and capabilities online. Reliable and quality hosting, with resources that aptly meet your website’s needs, ensures your website runs smoothly and efficiently.

Generally, there are two broad types of hosting:

Home servers vs. web hosting service

Home servers

Home servers or in-house hosting is a computer located in a private setting and is used to services connecting devices inside or outside the premise via the local home network or the internet.

Because you have direct ownership of a server, you have unrestrained control over your hardware, software, and other functions. You can easily upgrade to new technology anytime and amp up your hosting’s performance.

On the downside, it’s necessary to have high internet speeds, technical expertise, and robust resources to manage and maintain your server 24/7. You also have to ensure your servers are kept in an airconditioned space as they can generate a lot of heat. When they do, it impedes their operation

Web hosting services

A web hosting service allows you to rent the server space and provides you with the resources and technology to keep your website accessible and in optimal condition. Depending on your plan, you get to choose the data space and other requirements you need and scale along the way as your website grows.

Getting a web hosting provider saves you time and effort compared to managing your own server. It comes with perks such as 24/7 multi-channel support, security features, and backups. With IT experts working on your infrastructure's maintenance and development, get maximum uptime guarantee and quick response to security bugs and other issues.

READ: Home Servers vs. Web Hosting: Which One Is the Better Choice?

Different Types of Web Hosting You Need to Know

Shared Hosting

Shared hosting is an arrangement where several websites are hosted on the same server. Because you’re occupying the same space, you’ll be sharing resources such as RAM, storage, and bandwidth with your “flatmates.”


Pros 
 

  • Cost-effective 
  • Server admin and regular maintenance


Cons
 

  • The limited resources may not support traffic surges 
  • Prone to system crashes 
  • Security threats from other co-hosted websites may affect you

Best for: Small starting business websites and personal blogs that require minimal resources to operate.

VPS Hosting

The Virtual Private Server (VPS) similarly hosts multiple websites on the same server. However, the server is split into “virtual” spaces wherein each of them functions as a separate server. The tenants enjoy the privileges of dedicated virtualized resources for better control and security.


Pros
 

  • Simulated virtual dedicated server experience 
  • High flexibility and customisation 
  • Unrestricted server access


Cons
 

  • A bit more costly than shared hosting 
  • Traffic surges and issues from other co-hosted websites can still affect you, albeit minimally 

Best for: Websites that are scaling or looking to scale their resources in the future, such as ecommerce sites and blogs.

READ: Why Use VPS Hosting for Your Mid-Scale Website

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Dedicated Hosting

Dedicated hosting allocates the entire physical server to you. You get full control over all resources, choose an operating system, install software, and make customisations to suit your specifications and needs.


Pros
 

  • Powerful performance due to resource exclusivity 
  • Complete server control 
  • Highly secure 
  • Can handle large traffic volumes


Cons
 

  • The most expensive hosting option mainly for large businesses 
  • Requires technical server expertise to manage

Best for: Large businesses running or hosting multiple websites with high traffic volumes

Cloud Hosting

Cloud Hosting hosts your website on multiple interconnected cloud servers to form a single network. It connects several VPSs into one big dedicated virtual server.

Your data and applications are stored on each of these clustered virtual machines. So, when one of them goes under due to issues, you’re immediately directed to other functioning servers to maintain uptime and performance.


Pros
 

  • Reduced risk of hardware issues 
  • Resilience to downtimes 
  • Can handle huge traffic 
  • Easily scalable 


Cons
 

  • No root access for customisations 
  • More expensive than VPS hosting

Best for: Large ecommerce websites that require near-perfect uptime

Is free hosting any good?

You must have heard of free web hosting offers while looking for hosting plans online. If you’re wondering whether it’s bait or a trustworthy offer, the answer is it's legitimate. A free web hosting plan comes with a free website builder like WordPress. So, when you first publish your site on the platform, you won’t pay a dime for a hosting subscription.

The non-paid hosting service would seem like a great deal, but like with anything with a “free” sign, there’s a catch.

Here are a few reasons to think twice before settling with free hosting:

  • Limited resources with zero to little technical support
  • Design flexibility is limited to a few website templates with only a few web pages
  • Slow site speeds with multiple users sharing the same resources and bandwidth
  • Costly upgrades
  • Bombardment of spammy ads on your website

If you’re planning on starting a business website, free hosting is definitely not for you. It lacks the scalability and features you need to establish a solid and branded online presence. However, this is a great option if you’re a novice blogger or just want to build a website at no cost.

Otherwise, it’s worth investing in a premium web hosting service. You’ll enjoy the advantages of running your website on secure, scalable, and supported hosting at the best price.

READ: 5 Reasons Premium Hosting Is a Smart Investment for SMEs

Best Ways to Determine Your Web Hosting Needs

Your hosting works round-the-clock to keep your website up and running in stellar conditions. Your choice of hosting is the foundation of your online presence. It dictates your business’s capacity for growth and digital success.

Carefully evaluate your hosting options before subscribing to a specific plan by assessing your website needs. With several hosting choices available, picking the right one can be a real challenge, but here are a few ways to get started:

Determine your budget

Before hunting for hosting, have a set budget on how much you’re willing and capable of spending to host your website. When you assess hosting plans that meet your budget, you effectively narrow down your options.

When setting a budget, make sure it matches your website’s requirements and objectives moving forward. Don’t settle on the first seemingly good hosting plan you find. Compare it with other promising ones. And before putting it in your cart, look for hidden fees that might unexpectedly cost you more in the future.

Calculate your estimated storage and bandwidth consumption

These are two basic and crucial hosting components you should be looking into. These elements directly affect your website’s speed and uptime performance.

Your storage space should be sufficient for the number of website files you have. If you’re running a typical blog, you won’t need to go for hosting plans with high storage, but it’s a must for ecommerce websites or multimedia-heavy pages.

On the other hand, bandwidth dictates the volume of traffic or data transfers that you can simultaneously accommodate at the same time.

So, how do you determine the estimated amount of bandwidth you need? Multiply the following:

  1. Average page size in kilobytes
  1. Average number of monthly page views
  1. Average number of page views per visitor

You can generate those details by using tools such as Google Analytics.

💡 Remember: Your website files will accumulate over time. You’ll also experience unexpected traffic spikes. With these, it’s important to opt for hosting that can cater to your growing needs. Choose storage and bandwidth that have extra room for growth.

Get robust security

Security should be a non-negotiable part of your hosting plan. The moment you get online, you’re already susceptible to cyberattacks. Without solid security features from your hosting, you’re defenseless against data breaches that will compromise your business.

At the basic level, most hosting plans include an SSL certificate, firewall, regular monitoring, and automated backups. Ask your provider if they have features for detecting system vulnerabilities and deflecting malware and DDoS threats.

Look for reliable and proven support

You want to make sure your hosting provider backs you with 24/7 trusted support on all available channels. This ensures all issues and problems that may arise on your website get prompt attention and resolution. Visit forums and review pages to see if a hosting service provides highly satisfactory customer support and technical support.

READ: 5 Key Steps in Determining Your Web Hosting Needs

Main Hosting Issues and How to Resolve Them

Hosting issues

Slow loading speeds

With the internet making everything accessible in a snap, no user likes to wait. In fact, 40% of them won’t hesitate to drop your website which takes more than 3 seconds to load. Every tick of the clock counts. Poor page loads hurt your website’s potential to retain leads, generate conversions, and earn sales.

Laggy websites also affect your SEO, reducing your chances of getting found online. This is a huge stumbling block for your business.

What to do:

  1. Optimise website files and content by:
    • Reduce image sizes
    • Lessen plugins
    • Minify JavaScript and CSS files
    • Enable website caching
  1. Ensure your server response time is below 200 milliseconds.
  1. Opt for hosting that uses Solid State Drives (SSDs) as it provides ultra-fast data transfers and more bandwidth.
  1. Upgrade to a higher hosting plan (e.g., transferring from VPS hosting to dedicated hosting).

Server crashes and downtimes

Server crashes are some of the worst things that can happen to your website. When you get downtimes, you lose money each second that your website is offline. Besides the cost of business interruptions, users can’t trust a website that frequently breaks down.

What to do:

  • Look for hosting with regular server monitoring and maintenance.

Poor scalability

It’s good news when your website suddenly receives increased page visits, inquiries, views, and other engagement, boosting your traffic like never before. But if you have limited and unscalable resources, this situation might very well be a nightmare.

The incapacity to scale up your resources when needed appears to your audience as poor UX and missed opportunities on your end.

What to do:

  • Get hosted with providers that enable seamless migrations to hosting plans with higher bandwidth and disk space.

Inadequate security

Your data is always at risk of security threats online. Unfortunately, data breaches have grown in recent years at an alarming rate. In the third quarter of 2022 alone, around 15 million records were illegally breached. This is a 37% increase from the prior quarter.

It’s imperative you want to be hosted in a safe infrastructure equipped with security solutions and measures. Otherwise, these security issues won’t only endanger your data but also your customer's private transaction details (e.g., contacts and bank accounts), tarnishing your brand in the market.

What to do:

  • Make your website a secure space for transactions with an SSL certificate.
  • Ensure you have a private IP address.
  • Check if your hosting has regular data backups.
  • Verify whether the servers run on the latest software.

Unreliable customer support

Inefficient and slow support response is going to cost you your business. When problems arise and no immediate response and action are taken, unresolved issues can result in recurring downtimes and put your online presence in jeopardy.

What to do:

  • Get hosted with a hosting provider with proven customer support quality on multiple channels.

READ: 7 Common Hosting Concerns and How to Address Them

Telltale Signs You’re in Dire Need of a Hosting Upgrade

When you see your website performing more weakly than usual, it might be because you've already outgrown your hosting plan. As your offerings expand and you attract more traffic, you're bound to experience mishaps with your limited hosting resources.

While this isn’t an ideal scenario, it also signals that your efforts are paying off! These are signs to look out for when an upgrade is necessary:

Frequent downtimes

Recurring downtimes are a palpable sign that your website is not keeping up. Potential leads hoping to do business with you won’t be able to access your page, resulting to a massive revenue loss on your end. When your hosting flops on delivering consistent uptime, don’t hesitate to go for a higher plan.

Increased incoming traffic

Whether it’s a surprise or anticipated, a boost in traffic is always welcome, that is if you can accommodate the spike. Otherwise, overwhelming your server with data transfers with insufficient bandwidth can easily drive your site speed downhill. Some hosts may also charge you extra when you exceed your designated data consumption.

Noticeably slow website

You already know how detrimental a slow page speed is to your business. Any user won’t settle with a website that will simply waste their time. A few seconds' delay can incur significant business losses and ruin your reputation online.

If you’re hosting isn’t meeting your speed expectations, it might be time to have better resources.

You need features that are unavailable in your hosting plan

You might have chosen your current hosting plan in the first place because it aptly supports your current performance requirements. If you find yourself needing more than what it can offer, an upgrade would be inevitable.

You might want to add more email addresses, change PHP versions, and get your hand on better software. Because your online business is expanding, you’ll also want to add more domains and subdomains, gain root server access, or unlock more resources.

READ: 8 Signs That You Need to Upgrade Your Hosting Service

Thrive Online with the Right Hosting

It’s easy to scour the internet and settle for any hosting plan you set your eyes on. But you don’t need just any hosting, you need a good one. The quality of your hosting and server resources is critical to your business’s growth and performance online.

Look for the best web hosting plan by partnering with a reputable hosting provider in the industry. A trusted agency like Vodien can provide you with robust infrastructure with a feature-rich platform to scale your website on. Check out our hosting plans today!

 

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