Most small business owners don’t give this much thought. The type of hosting you choose really affects how you are going to run your business. To better understand this, you need to understand what hosting types are available and what each means to your bottom line.
Hosting is just hosting. Right?
No. Let’s create a business scenario to help you outline just how important choosing the right type of host for your business is :
Tommy owns Widgets Inc., a small company with 5 employees. They sell their widgets using WooCommerce (a WordPress plugin) and do all the shipping themselves via USPS. His employees each have their own daily mission : one employee does shipping, one does accounting, one does quality control and another manages the day to day operations. (What Tommy does is still a mystery)
Given this data, what type of hosting would be best for Tommy?
First we have to look at what hosting is available from the perspective of an expert in the industry. Take the time to call that geeky friend that knows the web inside out to ask them for their opinion. This is important because most small business owners lump hosting with other staples such as : cable bill, utilities and the like. And that’s where the trouble starts.
Types of Hosting
Do It All Yourself
This route requires you to have the full resources to manage, maintain and keep a server going. On top of that, you have to understand the inner workings of a web server (which a server hosts) – in addition to managing network security. Other types of hosting that can fit here : dedicated server – unmanaged. I make the distinction for my technically adept crowd – because Digital Ocean offers “droplets” which are not stand alone machines.
Shared, Industry Specific, Managed Support
When I say industry specific – I mean dedicated to a specific Open Source piece of software. These companies offer full support for their respective products and don’t require you to manage things like the “Do It All Yourself” approach. Keep in mind there is still site setup, DNS changeover and other technical things you will need to know to facilitate setting up. Each has it’s own perks and shortcomings but that’s beyond the scope of this article. (we’ll save that for a rainy day!)
Shared , General Hosting, Unmanaged Support
Companies that will host your website and for the most part support only keeping the server running. You are responsible for setup and upkeep. The difference between these and the Industry Specific hosts : their support teams don’t support specific OS CMS’s rather the server in general. It’s up to you learn both and really maintain your website.
Some things to consider before you make a hosting choice are :
- Will you be using the service providers email? (meaning email that the host provides)
- Do you need backups as part of an included service?
- Who fixes my site when it goes down? (this will depend on the reason it’s down)
- Do I have someone in my company that can liaison with my host / speak tech?
For Tommy (remember our made up business), the best choice would be something that doesn’t require him to dedicate one of his employees to managing it. We’ll assume that they already have their email up and running and are quite happy with it.
In this case, given this limited information : Shared, Industry Specific, Managed Support might be the best fit. This is because these resources have the required support systems in place to fill in the blanks.
I’ll be following this up in the coming weeks with more information on which to choose in any given scenario. This is just a quick outline of how diverse hosting really is, and to get you thinking about why it’s so important to choose the right one.
Ask yourself this : Why doesn’t WP Engine offer email with their WordPress hosting? We’ll address that and more soon.