Prime real estate space is highly valuable. This is why a plot of land of certain size in a certain area could be worth 10 times as much as another plot of land with a same size but in a less popular area. For new families embarking on a new beginning, a plot of land in a good neighborhood surrounded by good schools and good hospitals would be considerably more attractive than a plot of land in a lousy, remote neighborhood, making the former considerably more expensive. For businesses, the amount of traffic around and proximity to public attractions could weigh in your favor.
What happens though when this issue of space shifted into the digital world as online businesses are now the norm instead of the exception? You might think that the issue of where the website is located doesn’t really matter but it actually, just in a wholly different way. In the world of web development, businesses are so hung up on designing the perfect website that the discussion of where that website should be hosted isn’t a priority but I’m here to outline some arguments on why that needs to change.
Great hosts aren’t just for Airbnb
In this year alone, the Facebook family of apps, including Facebook-owned Instagram and WhatsApp, suffers from several different outages, cutting off access to their billions of users. If you’re not among those billions of people, all the power to you but for those that rely on those services on a daily basis, these outages are highly infuriating because they were entirely unexpected. If there was maintenance and people were alerted ahead of time, they might’ve been more receptive.
I’m absolutely certain that Facebook as a company opts to use the best hosting option available for their servers but in the world of web development, even the best is far from perfect. Of course, with the number of users in the billions and where security threats are a constant, Facebook is a very extreme example but it does highlight the importance of web hosting when it comes to online businesses. The quality of your website isn’t just decided by the website itself; your choice of web hosting will also have a measurable impact on the quality of your website.
Website load speed
Let’s say you’re about load a shipment of boxes from a warehouse to a truck. Obviously, the amount of time and work you’re going to have to make depend on the amount of boxes you have to move but it would also depend on how the boxes are going to be moved. Using a conveyor belt would be faster and requires less effort than if you’re going to have to carry the boxes one-by-one through a series of hurdles. In this analogy, the amount of boxes is the size and complexity of your website while how the boxes are moved is the access provided by your web host provider.
The amount of access and resource available to your website is dictated by your hosting plan. A cheap, shared hosting plan means that multiple websites are hosted in a single server and the amount of resource and computing power of that server has to be shared between those websites which means slower loading times. A dedicated server, physical or virtual, doesn’t suffer from this limitation but they’re also considerably more expensive, especially physical dedicated server. Keep in mind that for a simple portfolio website, a shared hosting option might be enough so try to balance these options with what you actually need.
No hosting option will be able to guarantee you 100% uptime, that’s just simply a statistical impossibility, but the good ones should at least be capable of guaranteeing 99% uptime. The numbers however, are just one piece of the puzzle, you also have to ensure that the web hosting provider you choose keep the unexpected downtime to a minimum and that you’re always given a heads up when a scheduled downtime is about to happen. You know how the saying goes, the devil you know is better than the devil you don’t.
There are two ways a website can be hacked, by invading the administrator section of a website and by invading the actual server where that website is hosted. The former is your responsibility but the latter is in the hands of whoever owns that server. There’s a type of service referred to as colocation hosting in which a business merely rents the server space where the server is located and the business is responsible for the managing of the server itself but typically, this is left to the hosting provider, which is why it’s imperative for you as a business to go with a provider that takes the issue of cybersecurity as serious as it should be.
For the forward thinking business owners, it’s typical for you to look at where you’d like your business to be 5, 10 years down the line. In the physical space, this means having a good foundation for your property so that when it comes a time for you to expand your wings, you could just simply expand the space you currently have now instead of having to hunt for a bigger location. This scalability issue is also present in the world of web development as as your business grows, you also have to contend with a bigger, more sophisticated website and more traffic.
If you think that going with a dedicated hosting option is a bit of overkill at this stage of your business, that’s completely in your discretion but you’d want to make sure that your hosting provider provides you with a seamless and easy way for you to upgrade and scale your website when the time comes. If you think that scaling in web development is easier than in the physical space, you’re right but it’s still quite a complicated process and you’d want to attach yourself to a hosting provider that knows what they’re doing.