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How to select hosting for your website

by Guest on August 13, 2019
Business
Creating a website, whether personal or professional, can take a lot of work. There is so much room to show your creative flair. However, you also need to consider the practical aspects, such as how to select hosting for your website.
There are a number of different options to consider, primarily determined by your budget, but also consider the specific requirements of the platform or content management system (CMS) you are using.

Where to start

Each CMS has a specific list of minimum hosting requirements. This will include the type of web server, the programming language or runtime that needs to be supported and the database it needs to use. Different versions of a CMS may also require a specific version of the language and that additional features are installed on the webserver.
Hosting a website requires a web server. You can choose between cloud hosting (public or private), dedicated hosting, virtual hosting or shared hosting.


Cloud Hosting

In principle, cloud hosting is the idea of hosting your website where it doesn’t exist on one specific physical server. Instead, you pay for a level of processing power, memory use and disk space.
Cloud hosting is best for websites that require a high level of availability and are available in multiple world regions. It does require a high level of expertise to setup correctly and optimise. However, you pay for the resources you use rather than a fixed amount. Cloud hosting can also be less performant but offers flexibility to increase the server resources available when required.


Dedicated Hosting

A dedicated hosting plan is where your website is hosted on physical servers with exclusive use. Dedicated servers generally offer the best performance and you have complete control.  Some hosting companies do offer managed VPS plans where they will look after the maintenance, backups and monitor usage and network availability.


Virtual Hosting

The virtual will have a dedicated amount of processing, memory and disk space allocated to it and often come in a range of sizes to suit small to large busy websites. In it’s simplest form a virtual server appears as if it is a single dedicated server but is one of many virtual servers sitting on one physical server.
A virtual server is a good option for small to medium-sized businesses. Maintenance and backups can be handled in-house or outsourced to a managed web hosting provider. As with a dedicated server, the virtual server will often give you full control over the environment.


Shared Hosting

Shared hosting is the budget solution that is a great option suitable for small businesses.  It is a shared environment so your website can be affected by the other sites the hosting is shared with. This means selecting a reputable company is important.
Shared hosting is cheaper, you may pay $15 dollars per month, rather than hundreds for a virtual or dedicated server. However, shared hosting also limits your ability to run specific environments. Shared hosting is commonly used for CMS systems.

How to select hosting for your website

Small businesses

A dedicated server may be overkill and cloud hosting too unpredictable in cost for a small business. Shared hosting is most likely a good option for you however, check if your CMS has extensive functional customisations.


Medium – to large businesses

For a medium to large organisation, a virtual or dedicated server would be a better choice, especially if you’re running an online store or if you handle sensitive client data.
If you have a large customer base in other parts of the world, then a cloud solution may be better. This is especially true if your web site is duplicated across a number of regions but still appears as a single website for administration.

Considerations when migrating your website to new hosting

  • Your email may also need to be re-hosted. You could continue to host it yourself either in the same hosting environment as the website or on an in-house mail server. Many organisations are increasingly switching to third-party providers such as Office365 or GSuite. Whichever way you go, don’t, forget to run a back-up first and ensure this is copied outside of your mail program. For example, run a backup onto a USB just in case something takes an unexpected turn.
  • When updating your DNS records to switch the address from your old hosting to the new, there can be a period where visitors can be sent to either server. This is not a problem for information-only sites as visitors won’t experience any downtime. For an online store or custom application, this can be problematic should a customer place their order on an old website.
  • switching on the quietest day of the week, and possibly outside of business hours is beneficial.

About the author

Katrina O’Connell is the Managing Director at kmo. Having started her career in the early days of web, Katrina was a part of a team that was one of the first to build a multi-currency payment gateway for both real-time and batch payment processing. In 2007 Katrina started kmo, a web development agency located in Brisbane and works with both clients and agencies throughout Australia. Read more about their work at kmo.com.au

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