Shh.. It’s a dirty little secret in the shared hosting industry. Many providers offer gigabytes of disk space and bandwidth (or in some cases terabytes!) all for the low price of $9.95/month. Some are now even offering “unlimited” hosting, which in reality there is no such thing! Hardware and services all have limits, even in the “cloud computing” era we live in.
How do these providers offer these plans? Bandwidth, even if purchased in large quantities from a tier 1 provider, costs at least $2.00/Mbit. If the raw resources (hardware, bandwidth, power, employees, etc.) cost more than the monthly fee they are offering, how do they do it then? Do these providers have a secret sauce to put on their hamburgers? Do they cast a voodoo spell so they can offer more services for less? Are we raking our customers over the coals so we can drive around in our Porsche? Hardly.
The answer is simple and comes down to a mixture of four possible situations:
- Oversell – They hope you don’t use the resources they are offering. Overselling itself is not a bad thing and we do it at low levels. We are now seeing overselling (or better aptly named false advertising) where it’s actually IMPOSSIBLE to offer such services on a shared hosting environment. That’s right technically impossible. They know while the uneducated consumer gets excited over these outrageous features, in reality will never even come close to using them.
- Contract Terms – Put terms in their contract to make it almost impossible to use. Usually it’s either CPU limits and/or can upload specific file types (i.e. no videos). CPU limits are a big issue with any dynamic based web site and may run into this issue with low budget hosts.
- Prepay – I’ve seen some offer 5 years prepayment. Time = Money. More money up for the hosting provider helps with profit. Hope that company is still around and shared hosting still exists in its current form.
- Quality of Service – Cut corners any aspect of service. Use servers with no RAID or backups. Outsource their support to a third party company. Resell someone else’s service. Not monitor their servers and services for outages. Do not have spare hardware, etc..
Yes the hosting industry is on this kick “my plans are bigger than yours!” competing on disk space, bandwidth and amount of Email accounts. In reality, hosting isn’t about this.
We realize disk, bandwidth and E-mail are important, but what really matters is quality! Who care if you paying for these resources, but can’t actually use them.
This blog posting will focus primarily on the #4 situation which seems to affect the general hosting public the most. Hosting is primarily a service operation. As much as I would LOVE our servers to do it, they do not maintain themselves, nor does software configure itself!
Quality of Service (QOS) is about:
- How fast my web site loads
- How much spam is in my Email box
- How often is the web/E-mail service down
- How quickly can technical support resolve an issue
- How secure is my site from hackers, and has the server been hacked or ‘rooted’
- Using all of the disk space and bandwidth you actually paid for
Our company’s focus has primarily been B-2-B, where downtime is an expensive situation, especially for an Ecommerce based web site. We understand time is definitely equal to money.
Over the years we’ve gotten many sales inquires complaining about their existing provider. Here are some actual issues:
- Web site has been down for two weeks, and the provider doesn’t know when it will be back up (no joke)
- The provider didn’t have valid backups, and we’ve lost everything
- Existing web host has been down for one day, and we are an ecommerce site. We are loosing thousands of dollars.
- Our E-mail service is unavailable every few days.
- The server we were on was hacked.
- It takes the provider over 24 hours to respond to our support tickets.
All of these are real pain points you would think motivate anyone to change providers. The ironic thing is after complaining about their existing provider, with the same breath, then complains why is our service more costly. All of these issues are QOS issues, and has nothing to do with how big the provider’s disk, bandwidth or email is.
For a few dollars additional per month to use our service (in some cases it means a few less Starbucks Mocha Frappuccino), you can be with a reliable hosting provider. Yet these are the same customers that bounce from provider to provider wondering why they can’t find a hosting provider they are happy with.
I’m not saying our service is perfect, nor do we ever have outages. My point is at the price level some providers are offering, something has to be cut, and most likely it is some aspect of service. Our goal is to be a transparent small business hosting provider. “It just works!”, has always been our motto and be proactive as much as possible. As an employee or business owner you have many other things to worry about than if your Email service isn’t working.
While to the outsider it looks like we don’t do much, behind the scenes there is much more going. Many applications are getting updated, monitoring of server or account attacks, getting Nagios alerts on server loads, and then answering the occasional customer support question.
If you are constantly chasing after the “my plan is bigger than yours” providers then HostASite.com isn’t for you. If you care about quality of service, then we are perfect for you.