Recently I saw a relatively high profile social networking consultant recommend his audience use a super cheap host service, with unlimited bandwidth and a free one click WordPress install.
He spoke nothing of the potential pitfalls, probably had no idea himself… BUT I felt we should write something on the subject here for those considering that kind of a service.
Forgive me, this may concern you!
Define Shared Hosting
For the layperson, shared hosting is where the host serves multiple sites from a single Web server. Although shared hosting is a less expensive way for a business to create a web presence, it’s typically priced based upon the bet you won’t use much in the way of server resources. If you’ve chosen cut throat pricing to host your business site, it’s likely you’ve chosen shared hosting!
If Hosting Sounds Too Good To Be True, It Is!
What shared hosting also means, is you are on a server full of other random sites AND you are potentially at the mercy of all the other sites activity. Shared hosting is usually not sufficient for any one site with potentially high traffic spikes.
You’ve spent time and energy to build products services and a brand, but when you [or anyone else on your server, for that matter] get a popular moment are you prepared? For example, say Digg.com points to your site one day and there’s a traffic surge. With shared hosting, there’s a good chance you’ll go down before you ever benefit from that surge. And if so, what of the reward for all your hard work?
If your site grows in popularity, are there even options to optimize your server for additional traffic? If so, you either pay up or you probably need to move… having learned a hard lesson! Here’s the next one: what is the cost to transfer your site and content seamlessly? Have you thought any about the retention of your data, images and video files? How about your back links? Your subscribers? Search indexing? How much will it cost to get someone experienced enough to successfully transfer all you have accumulated and want to protect?
Hosting with a FREE WordPress Install?
What does a one click install mean anyway? Does it even address WordPress updates, or that the software quickly becomes problematic if you’re not updating it? If a major security release ever came along, will they tell you? Are they responsible? And if so, are you waiting until the installer decides to update… rather than right away?
Do you have any custom design? Any custom configuration? Certainly you have custom Search Engine Optimization? How about plugins? Are you using or embedding any 3rd party software? Analytics maybe? Cool widgets, maybe the weather? And what if all those fun features begin to hog resources; will your shared host simply shut you down with no explanation. Got a question about modifying something or adding a new feature? Either plan on lots of research in the WP support forums, assuming someone there has even dealt with your problem before. And folks, our CTO used to manage those forums! He’ll be the first to tell you the volume is such, dozens of questions go unanswered. What would you expect when the forums are volunteer?
What Serious Business People Do?
So, what’s an incident really going to cost you? $150 $250? How about the next? Experienced and trusted WP developers aren’t cheap. Just because WP is open source, free to download and install, doesn’t mean it isn’t a complicated piece of software that requires various web technology disciplines to fix, customize or optimize.
And as for unlimited bandwidth, has that been defined? Know that if your server can’t handle peak traffic then having it is probably useless. Need immediate service? Good luck!
Folks, ultimately with shared hosting you may need to be realistic about potential down time, limitations on service, the possibility of things breaking and additional costs.
What do serious business people do? They get a dedicated Web server, either in- house or out with a managed service… maybe like ours. With us, there’s not only realtime customer service platform with human interaction, but complete WordPress care & updating. Throw in server optimization, technology advancement, storage, security, online marketing education,… and you’ve got our standard comprehensive services package!