Hosting Is Important, Even For Small And Simple Web Sites

In just last couple of months, I have come across companies who are being exploited by their web hosts. This post is mostly a reaction to witnessing their struggle with the hosting companies. They are being charged either for additional email IDs or subdomains, giving them a very narrow control of the web server and not responding quickly to queries. They have quite simple requirements, but they cannot go through with the solution because they are limited by the host’s offerings. If I am asked about the most common mistake people do while building web sites, it is this – committing to the wrong web host.

With web sites, maintenance turns out to be a lot more significant than the one-time software development, even for the small web sites. A good host will make it easy for you to maintain the web site, or maintenance can turn out to be an expensive nightmare.

Here are some of the factors for choosing a host for small and simple web sites:

  • Do not commit to a web host till you get a fair idea of what you want to do on the web. Even if easily available, do not buy a hosting plan too soon. It harms a lot more when you realize the limitations imposed on you.
  • Choose a host and a plan that allows you to run scripts. Even if you think that your web site will have static content, scripts will enable you to have a good administration interface for content management.
  • Do not think of the web hosting company as another supplier who should be close by. You will never meet them. This has been one of the main reasons of people opting for wrong resellers or hosts. Look for the best host, even if you find them in a separate continent.
  • Almost all hosts give virtually unlimited email IDs. So do not go with a host who is charging you a premium per email ID. If you do have special email requirements, pay for a dedicated email service.
  • The same goes for subdomains, do not pay for them.
  • Identify if you have any FTP requirements. If so, check if you have granular control over FTP.
  • If you like a host, understand the difference between various offerings – shared hosting, dedicated servers, etc. Beware of glorified names for simple services, you might end up paying a lot more the glorified names.
  • Preferably go with a host where you can upgrade quickly to a higher plan. You can never plan for high traffic, the best you can do is upgrade quickly.
  • Find out if they have an easy way to maintain your hosting and web site. Backup, database management, email handling, spam management, checking logs, system configuration should be really easy to use.
  • Consciously check for fine print and hidden fees between the advertised features.
  • If it is a reseller you are considering, make sure that you will get complete control over your hosting.
  • Last but not the least, choose a responsive host. Go through their forums or knowledge base and check if they have been responsive to user queries. In case of problems, quick response helps a lot, not only for your sake but your readers’ sake as well.

With most good hosts, you will get this information pretty quickly. However, just like every business is unique, every web site will have its own requirements and a future roadmap. It is a good start to look for top web hosting or individual reviews on blogs. Then identify your own parameters and mark your favourites. It is quite possible that you give up the traditional hosting plans and go for cloud hosting option.

If you do not have the time to do this, get it done from someone knowledgeable. This will save you a lot of pain in the future.

Discussion [Participate or Link]

  1. Khalid J Hosein said:

    Great post Abhijit. I’ll second everything you’ve said.

    I know that we’ve gone through more than half a dozen different hosts over the years, at least one of which was a very short-lived, money-losing, time-sucking disaster.

    We had a stop for a while using a dedicated server even, but that turned out to be tough (aka a major pain) to upgrade. We’ve settled now on VPS hosting that operates on Xen (virtualization) and what’s nice about it – apart from being way cheaper than a dedicated box – is that we can upgrade in place. Granted, an unmanaged VPS takes sys admin skills and time, but you do have full control over it.

    If anyone is interested in some recs, contact me; I’d be happy to pass some on.

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Abhijit Nadgouda
iface Consulting
+91 9819820312
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