What I Learned About Websites This Week: Hosting Makes The World Go ‘Round
For a while I figured that my cheap GoDaddy hosting account would do the trick. At about $120 a year I was able to manage about six websites, give or take, with minimal downtime. Not that GoDaddy doesn’t have expensive hosting accounts, I’m sure it does – I just bought the cheap one for my personal sites. But I don’t think that’s very realistic anymore.
I’ve got this plugin, Jetpack, which is a plugin that the majority of WordPress sites should be using. It’ll tell you when your websites are down so that you can go in and make whatever changes you need to make to get your sites back up. The thing is, when the problem is at server level, you’re pretty much out of luck.
Here’s what happens:
- You have increased traffic running through your website sending requests to your cheap host server
- Your cheap host server says “EFF THIS! I’M TIRED! IT’S ALMOST MIDNIGHT!” or whatever peak hour is for your website
- All your resources are used up
- Your website crashes
That’s what happens when you see a 500 error.
The only thing you can do is get off your site and wait it out. Typically it takes about 5-10 minutes to reset itself but in the meantime you get a bunch of people Tweeting at you “WHY IS YOUR SITE DOWN? I WANTED TO BUY THIS THING AND I CAN’T BUY THIS THING!” You don’t want that. Neither do I.
So I’ve been doing some research on which hosts are the best hosts for websites.
So far, my favourite is Flywheel. I’ve been using it a while for a website I’m managing full-time which requires several sub-domains. I have the flexibility of up to 10 WordPress installs and a lot of the silliness I have to deal with on my GoDaddy websites is dealt with before I see it, like automatic WordPress updates. The support is also amazing. If you email “[email protected]” they get your site back up right away!
Granted, I’ve purchased a level up from what a typical small business would be buying, but honestly the support is enough to sell this hosting company for me!
Another great host I’ve discovered is WP Engine. The basic plan has a CDN add-on at only $20 USD (Content Delivery Network – a nearby server will hang onto your pages/media etc. and serve your customers web pages very quickly, because they’re geographically closer than wherever your actual host server is set up), which is extremely helpful to have.
Of course Godaddy is a great choice for starter websites. And like I mentioned, I’ve been using GoDaddy for quite some time now. More than five years now! Eventually I’ll write a post about the pros and cons of GoDaddy for WordPress sites and why you may or may not choose GoDaddy for your site.
Some CMS (content management systems) offer hosting as well. For example, WordPress offers its own hosting packages. Same with Squarespace, Wix and Shopify. Depending on your needs, one of these might work for you! I really like what Shopify offers, they make it really easy to set up a store and run with it without thinking twice about whether or not a site will load. Not for everyone but definitely an option!
Hosts I would not recommend include:
- Canadian Web Hosting
I found that both of these companies offered “cheap” shared hosting that didn’t do a great job at balancing the load. Shared hosting means that your site(s) are on the same server that a bunch of other websites are on. So if someone posts a really racy picture of the queen and suddenly gets a lot of traffic and crashes, your website also crashes. The amount of downtime I experienced with these hosts was definitely unreasonable enough to seek alternate hosting!
Which host is right for your website?
Well I don’t know without having a quick chat with you to understand your needs, but here’s a quick guide:
- If you’re just starting out, shared hosting will most likely work for you.
- If you have traffic over 3000/month make sure you find a company that offers a shared hosting package that can handle the traffic
- Any more than 3000/month, start looking at a dedicated server. Most of those start at $100/month.
What hosting provider do you use? What has your experience been? Comment below! Knowledge share is the best kind of share.