When I first started my online business, I looked for the cheapest hosting that I could find. I wanted unlimited bandwidth, unlimited storage, unlimited databases etc… And I was only willing to pay $3 a month.
Looking back, this was a pretty ridiculous attitude to have. After all, if you want to take your online business seriously, you should invest the proper amount of money on a quality host to run your money making website.
But here’s the thing. When you are new to doing business online, all web hosts pretty much look identical. In fact, almost every single shared host offers “unlimited” everything so it can be hard to tell them apart. But if you take the time to dig a little deeper, you will find that there many subtle differences that are crucial to your success.
Nothing Is Unlimited
First off, there really is no such thing as unlimited when it comes to web hosting. For example, a web host might offer unlimited bandwidth but place hidden limits on your CPU usage so you can never take advantage.
Having unlimited storage is a myth too because most web hosts will not allow you host large files on your account unless they are an integral part of your website. In other words, if you start storing gigabytes worth of videos on your site, your account will most likely be suspended.
As a result, unlimited bandwidth and unlimited storage should not be the main criteria when selecting your shared hosting account. Instead, you should choose a host that is reliable and understands the type of business website you want to run. Allow me to explain.
When I first launched my online store Bumblebee Linens, I chose a generic “unlimited” hosting account which only cost me $2.99 a month.
It was the cheapest plan I could find and it was a basic, no frills shared hosting account. Now we all know that whenever something is cheap, there are always tradeoffs. The level of support was poor and the techs over there had no clue about how to properly host an E-commerce platform.
As a result, when I tried to install my shopping cart software onto my server, I faced a ton of issues in doing so. For example, my server was missing several PHP packages that were required to run my shopping cart.
In addition, I kept getting strange error messages whenever a visitor accessed certain pages of my site. Tech support was completely useless because…
- They had no knowledge about the exact shopping cart I was trying to install
- They had no experience with E-commerce sites
- They had their servers set up in a minimalist fashion which couldn’t support my platform
After going back and forth between these guys for weeks, I finally pulled the plug. Having unlimited resources at a low cost was pointless if I couldn’t get my site working properly.
The Right Way To Select A Host
Instead of going after the cheapest possible price for your web hosting, it’s essential to find a host that is knowledgeable about the platform that you want to run.
For example if your goal is host a WordPress blog, then you should find a host that specializes in WordPress.
If you want to run an ecommerce store based on the Magento platform, then you should find a host that has experience running Magento on their servers.
If you need to accept credit cards online in a secure fashion, then you better find a web host that is PCI compliant.
Every single web application is different and in many cases there are special tweaks that your web host can make to ensure that your website runs as smoothly as possible.
For example, HostASite.com differentiates itself by offering Litespeed as an option for your web server instead of Apache. As a result, your site will run up to 10 times faster based on this single tweak alone.
The Benefits Of A Platform Specific Web Host
When you choose a web host based on their knowledge of your online platform, you’ll find that it’s much easier to implement your website properly.
As soon as I switched my online business from a cheapo, generic host to one that had working knowledge of my ecommerce platform, I immediately got my website up and running without any problems.
Furthermore, it’s much easier to receive tech support when the person you are talking to actually understands what you are going through. As an example, here are some specific benefits I received when I made the switch.
- When I was working on my website, I came across some plugins that weren’t working correctly together. Because my web host had first hand experience with my platform, they were able to point me in the right direction for debugging.
- When my website got hacked, my host helped me to identify several vulnerabilities with my site regarding insecure plugins and helped me tighten up security with my business
- Once my traffic started to increase, my host was able to suggest several performance tweaks to make my site faster without significant downtime.
As you can probably tell, choosing the right host goes way beyond just the money. Sure, you can sign up for any old cheap hosting platform for $3 a month but you should consider the tradeoffs you are making.
The money you save now will cost you more in headaches later. By signing up for a host that understands your platform, it will make your online business run that much smoother. After all, your website is probably the single most important aspect of your business.
Don’t be cheap!