Most hosting is pretty cheap, and all it has to do is hold your website files, right? So it’s pretty much all the same?
You’d be surprised.
Simple hosting packages work when you’re on a tight budget and simply need a way to be online at all. If you barely get any visitors, you may not even feel the speed differences. But if you’re in growth mode, basic hosting may cost you.
But beyond that, there are a few specific scenarios where the extra features that come from premium hosting make a huge difference. If your website is a big way you spread the word and acquire new clientele, you owe it to yourself to explore those options.
Web hosting: What To Look Out For
1. Promotions and viral content can crash your server.
Cheaper shared hosting relies on its customers having small sites that don’t get much traffic, and certainly not in large bursts. The server’s resources are therefore spread over so many websites that if you start a paid promotion that successfully drives a lot of traffic to your site at once, such as a webinar with a big audience or successful ad, sometimes the server will be overloaded and crash.
This can happen because web hosts optimize their loadouts for typical usage of their customers, meaning if your site typically draws a small amount of traffic you’ll be on a server with a bunch of other websites that draw similarly small amounts of traffic. As long as that continues to be true, generally everybody’s websites load quickly enough.
But because the server’s resources are spread thin to maximize profit, all it takes is for your website or a few of the others you’re sharing with to suddenly get a huge spike in visitors to bring the load speeds to a crawl.
All those folks that tried visiting won’t get anywhere, which is embarrassing for the perception it creates. And if you’d spent advertising dollars to get their click, it’s wasted ad spend.
The difference with more expensive (premium) hosting starts with the fact that while it might still be shared hosting, you’re on a server with far less other websites and the server hardware itself is more robust. This means the server is more capable of maintaining good load speeds with fluctuating traffic and can handle larger loads.
Once you’re at the point where your site is pulling in big traffic (20,000+ visits per month) you may want to consider what is called dedicated hosting. This tends to be significantly more expensive, but essentially means you have a whole server computer to yourself and are not sharing with anyone else’s websites.
That will considerably improve your website’s load speeds even under massive traffic.
2. Cheap hosting has less security and usually no auto-backup options if your site is hacked or corrupted.
Having used my share of cheap hosting years ago for personal projects, I can tell you that while it’s easy on the pocketbook, you’re also pretty much on your own when things go wrong. If it’s a fault with their actual servers, like a crash or bug, you can call and they’ll fix it.
But if your site gets malware, gets hacked, or otherwise gets corrupted beyond what you know how to repair, they’ll offer their sympathy and try to sell you “upgrades” that at that point are too late. (Personal experience.)
Advanced hosting solutions like Siteground and WP Engine (not affiliate links) tend to use more security throughout their servers, and have packages with daily backups of your site. So if it goes down, gets corrupted, etc. you can have it back up in a couple clicks.
Again, if your business depends on your website to run, this is huge. There’s no bigger gut punch than to one day see your site is down or messed up out of the blue and feel like you don’t know what to do to solve it.
Meanwhile the public is headed there, and sees whatever they see.
Your website can be the digital face of your brand, but only when it’s working correctly. In summary, choosing a reliable web host is as important as the content within the site itself.