Web hosting is important in this day & age, and quality web hosting can be prohibitively expensive. I’m going to provide a few helpful hints on how to pick a cheaper web hosting solution & still get reasonable uptime and performance.
Saving time & money:
First, a short story. I’ve been involved in web hosting now for more than a decade: In internet years, that means I’m on a porch shouting at you from an antique rocking chair.
We all want similar things in life: But, most importantly we want to choose how we spend our time. My goal is to spend as little time sitting in lines, and as much time as possible with my kids & family (Particularly when they’re not screaming). Many companies interrupt our time like clockwork. My bank for example, which will will remain anonymous (It rhymes with ‘rank of blahmerica’), which undoubtedly almost weekly does something that warrants yet another phone call, sitting in their phone queues, as though my time were infinite, and infinitely worthless. Yesterday, I spent a total of roughly one working hour resolving what shouldn’t have been an issue at all, and next week it’ll happen again. On the contrary, my local internet provider instantly picks up the phone, resolves the issue (without hold times) and I’m on my merry way (EPB, in Chattanooga — gigabit internet for everyone!).
At this point I could setup a cron job to tweet about how often I'm on the phone with bank of america's fraud department.
— David McKendrick (@DavidAndGoliath) June 16, 2014
I’ll try not to get off topic, but it warrants a few paragraphs. You’re a business owner, or, someone who has better things to do than spend time contacting companies for something that is often their mistake, or something they could have readily resolved proactively. But, these are computers: Things happen — stuff breaks, errors are found, problems arise. The difference between a mediocre company, and a great company, is how much of your time they’ll waste. Think of great web hosting like insurance. Great web hosting tries to ensure that you’ll spend as little time dealing with web hosting as possible, and as much time on your business as possible. Mediocre web hosting makes no guarantees, and, ultimately, will cost you time in exchange for saving a few dollars a month.
The math is entirely up to you and your circumstances. I too have been an extremely poor student, living in whatever walk-in closet I could afford at the time: Sometimes, you need to save money. As a business owner, I’d recommend you don’t skimp on web hosting, but, if you have to, here are a few options:
With a cheaper hosting provider, expect downtime. There are likely some great cheap hosting providers out there, but, they’re likely cutting some corner that will ultimately result in website problems. To counter that, use something like cloudflare to at least cache your site when it is offline. Your visitors will still get to your content, and you’ll save on web hosting.
Horrible web hosting support
With a cheaper web host, support might be unavailable. An inexpensive provider might cut corners on their team size or availability, leaving you to resolve things on your own most of the time. Learn to wield the web for common problems by googling error messages, more often than not you can resolve them on your own once in awhile. Teams are easily the number one budget line item for a quality hosting provider: To put that in perspective, 75% of fused’s revenue goes towards covering our support & development team. A meager 10% of our monthly revenue covers hardware & infrastructure.
Another common issue experienced with cheap web hosting is unreliable email. Consider using a 3rd party like gmail to offset some of the damage that could be caused to your communications. Gmail offers service with custom domains for a meager $5 a month per account.
If your website relies on databases heavily, like for example, one built on wordpress or drupal: Cache as much as possible. Caching properly can result in your website being available even though the related database goes offline. Often there are plugins available for some content management systems that will cache an entire site, giving it a higher chance of being online. Databases being unavailable, or overloaded, is often a common problem of overloaded web servers. Often with cheaper companies, they might be forced into trying to host as many clients on single servers as possible due to their limited budgets.
Ultimately, it might be more costly, timewise, to pick a cheaper web hosting provider.
It’s worth weighing the options, and, if you’ve found a great, inexpensive hosting provider, don’t hesitate to leave them in the comments.