Website hosting is one of the most important, yet most underestimated aspects of a small business website. Your website is the face of your business online and hosting is the foundation it’s built on. Just like a house built on sand, a weak website foundation will undermine the success of your business.
Website hosting solutions are difficult to compare because they vary widely in quality, price, and features. The cheapest hosting solutions cost only a few dollars a month, but are slow, less secure, and difficult to manage. The higher end hosting solutions are managed for you, secure, have higher performance, and come with extra features, but they’re also more expensive.
Website hosting for businesses
Since we’re talking about small businesses we’ll assume that:
- Your time is valuable
- You have a limited budget
- You’d rather focus on your business and not waste time getting your website to work
- You’re happy to pay a little extra to make sure it’s done right and save time on setup and management
Lastly, there are many kinds of hosting out there. We’ll do our best to group them into easy to understand categories. Honestly, we could write a book on all the types of hosting, the merits of each, and situations where each is worth considering, but that’s well outside the scope of this guide.
This is the most common type of website hosting. It costs only a few dollars of month and is fairly easy to use. It can run most of the common content management systems (CMS) and is available from a number of companies for around the same price.
The drawbacks are that this kind of hosting is low quality (that’s why it’s so cheap), less secure, can get confusing if you dig into the control panel, and your website will be slower. This kind of hosting is fine for personal blogs and hobby sites, but I don’t recommend it for serious businesses. However, it’s a viable option if you’re short on cash.
This is a general hosting solution, so it supports multiple kinds of website software. This means that you’re responsible for optimizing your website performance, implementing caching, taking care of security, backups, etc. This gets time-consuming.
Managed dedicated/virtual private server (VPS)
This is another common form of hosting. It’s similar to the budget hosting mentioned above, except that it’s much more powerful with more resources. It’s great for a lot of things, but not for business owners who just wants a website. Even if it’s managed, it still requires some technical know-how to optimize it and get everything setup the way you want it.
This is also a general hosting solution that supports multiple types of software. So you’re also responsible for optimizing your website performance, implementing caching, taking care of security, backups, etc.
Premium/specialty managed hosting
Now we’re getting into the real stuff. Specialty hosts are nice because they only focus on one software platform. We’ll use WordPress in this example because it’s the most popular website software in the world. Specialty WordPress managed hosts will only host WordPress websites. This means higher performance and better support.
These specialty hosts also take care of performance optimization and security (some even guarantee website security) for you. Website backups, performance monitoring, and software updates are included too.
This kind of hosting is more expensive, but it’s definitely worth it. Not only do you get a boost in performance, but it’ll save you hours a month. This hosting typically starts around $25 a month and goes up from there depending on features.
The only drawback to this kind of hosting is that because it’s targeted toward designers and developers, it may still be a bit too complicated for the typical small business owners who wants a hassle-free website that just works. Overall, it’s a better experience than the other solutions listed above, but there’s still a bit of a learning curve.
This is the most comprehensive hosting category. It takes what the premium managed hosts do (mentioned above) and builds on top of it. These hosting solutions include management of all technical aspects of your site, website design, security, optimization, and more.
These hosting solutions are also much more specialized than any of the others. For example, we fall into this category and only serve small businesses, Shopify only serves online stores, and HappyTables only serves restaurants.
These solutions are by far the easiest to use and the most optimized, but they’re also more restrictive. Because they take care of everything for you, there are fewer choices. So if you’re trying to do something unique or have special requirements, this may not be the solution for you. But if all you need is a normal website, this the right choice.
Do you have any questions that we didn’t answer? Ask us!