If you are asking yourself “Where should I host my website?” the answer is more than likely it doesn’t matter.
Don’t misread that statement, it totally does matter, but if all you’re looking to do is make a quick site, there’s no way you want to – or have a need to – pay a premium for a website.
Since, you’re still reading this, I’ll assume you want to be more educated in this arena and are taking your website seriously. In this post I’ll go over the basics of what you can expect at each tier, what exactly you’re paying for, and who exactly needs these services.
You Get What You Pay For
I like to compare hosting to transportation, particularly buses. Simply put, you get what you pay for and make sure you are only paying for what you need. For this analogy to work, picture the “passenger” as a website visitor and the “bus” is your server that takes them from “stop-to-stop,” which for us means webpage-to-webpage.
For the first hosting example, we’ll look at the cheapest option. Using our transportation metaphor, this is your basic public transportation route, provided by any popular hosting provider with budgets big enough for a Super Bowl ad (Go Daddy, Host Gator, etc.). For this tier of service, all the hard work has already been done for you and it’s very cheap to use. For all their flaws, buses are already in place, bus stops are well defined, and things are running fairly smoothly with few deviations from schedules. If you go with basic hosting, you pay the least, but you get only the basics. Issues will arise when you have an influx of visitors because, like public transportation, you’re paying for a shared experience with a fixed capacity. If you’re running a basic blog with low traffic, this is probably all you need, but for a more customizable experience, it’s probably better to set your sights higher.
Then next option would be to hire a private bus service, which correlates to you finding and hiring an agency to host your website for you. They will take your requirements and create custom experience that fits exactly your needs. Imagine a party bus that you and your friends have hired for the evening. Your friends will be getting picked up and dropped off exactly when and where you want them to be and there will be little waste of resources. Of course this comes at a premium, you’ll have to pay the service provider to get all this going for you. In more practical terms, an agency like Forthea handles everything for you. Once we understand all your needs, you don’t have to worry about the technical components of your site, because you’ve got experts handling that for you. Sure, it’ll cost more than Go Daddy, but for professional websites that need special capacity, security, or functionalities, this option makes more sense.
The last option is to host the website yourself using Azure, AWS, or local servers. This is the best balance of cost and service. It will be up to you to pick your buses and routes in order to pick up and drop off your people. The catch is you’ll have to learn how to drive the bus. You’ll have to learn all the traffic rules and abide by them. You’ll have to learn how to service the buses. Things on the bus will break that you didn’t even know existed (trust me). Also, you’ll have to make sure your buses are secure and your passengers are always safe. Safety is very important, and very hard to do properly. While the flexibility is compelling, it comes with a cost, so it’s not a viable option for those who don’t have a dedicated team to work on it. Maintaining your own server isn’t like setting up an extra computer in your office, it requires experience and attention of a team, because if your website crashes and you don’t have the tools to fix the problem, it’s not getting fixed.
Which Website Hosting Option Is Right for You
What option should you take? Well I always recommend putting it in the hands of an agency you trust. They will give you the best bang for the buck unless you’re among the Amazon.com’s of the world. You can use a pre-build hosting solution, but as soon as you get real traffic or need something customized, you will have to find another solution. Also, for most companies, hiring a team of developers to create and maintain a site doesn’t align with the core service they provide.
Get out there and be great at what you do! Let other’s strengths fill in you weaknesses.