A Modern View on Web Hosting

Hosting website has changed a lot in the last 10 years. Here's an up to date view on what your options are in 2017.

Web hosting has changed a lot in the last 5-10 years. When I first started building sites 10 years ago, hosting was pretty expensive, and each site typically sat on a server somewhere managed by a company, along with dozens of other websites. You never knew which other sites yours shared a server with, and depending on what those other sites were doing, they could affect the performance of your own. Those days are thankfully gone, and there are other much more attractive options. Let's give them a look.

Shared hosting

Your site is on a server with lots of other websites. It's very cheap, and you usually have some kind of access to your website via a control panel. Popular sites for this kind of hosting are GoDaddy and 123reg. I cannot recommend this kind of hosting to anyone under any circumstances today (even if you ignore how often they get hacked). Although it's cheap, the performance of shared hosting is slow, downtime is frequent and data breaches are common. Your website is probably the largest public-facing entity in your business; so why host it on the cheapest possible option?

Managed Hosting

Similar to shared hosting, you can also get an IT support company to host your site and provide a support contract. In this case, your hosting is likely to still be on a server with a number of other sites, and you're limited to the subset of services they provide (for example PHP of MySQL versions). When you need something installing you'll need to file a support ticket, and you may or may not be able to have whatever you need installed.

VPS Hosting

Over the last few years, VPS hosting (Virtual Private Server) has really taken off. Companies like DigitalOcean and Linode provide datacenters where you pay to spin up a virtual machine, with only your sites on it and a set of dedicated resources. You can do whatever you like with them, typically installing a Linux distribution and using it as a web server. Hosting your site this way has a large number of benefits:

  • Keep the server up to date yourself with security patches
  • Install anything you need without waiting for the hosting company to make it available (optimisation libraries, PHP versions)
  • Customise the server for the website you're building
  • Only pay for the resources you need (CPU, memory, hard drive space etc.)
  • You can use the server for things other than web hosting (email server, file storage)
  • Choose where the server is located, making it closer to the people who will be using it most

While the performance of VPS hosting far outweighs the cheaper options, it has one downside - you need to know what you're doing.

For developers, there are resources to help provision these servers with the necessary software to run a website. The two frontrunners here are Forge and ServerPilot.

Where does that leave us?

It's clear that VPS hosting is the way forward, but actually setting it up and getting it running requires some advanced knowledge of servers, scripting and DNS; which is where we come in. The hosting we provide for clients combines the benefits of VPS hosting with the knowledge required to get the most out of it. You get your own server for your site safe in the knowledge that no one else is using the same server, and we keep it up to date for you, make any changes you need and to help you get the most out of it.

Need a hosting partner?

We offer hosting both as a monthly service, and as a one-off set up. If you're in need of something a bit more reliable than your current host, get in touch and we can talk over the options.

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