Factors to consider when choosing your website hosting provider
When it comes to website hosting, you’ll find a huge variety of hosting options online in NZ and offshore. There are not only several different types of hosting such as shared hosting and dedicated “VPN” (virtual private network) hosting but also a wide price range starting from as low as $4 a month going up to several hundred dollars.
So, the question is, what is the right web hosting for you? Which type of hosting suits your website?
The reason why there is such a difference in hosting costs are the features included in your hosting plan. Whilst a private person with a one pager blog might not need all of them, additional services will definitely make all the difference for those professionally running a website.
Therefore, it is crucial to consider the following questions and to have a detailed look into the included services before just going after the cheapest offer.
What type of website do you have?
If you are using a simple DIY website builder like Squarespace or Wix, the web hosting is another expense that may be included in your subscription or is invoiced via your website platform. However, if you’re using a content management system (CMS) like WordPress, then you’ll need to find a WordPress web hosting company.
How much storage do you need?
Do you have a big database, a variety of videos and applications or just copy and small images? Most providers restrict the storage which then can slow your website down and make it unusable for your customers. Among our clients, the smallest ones use up to 3 GB storage, established companies up to 8GB and high use community sites or ones with 20+ branches might need unlimited bandwidth.
How many web visitors do you have per month?
Most providers have a restricted bandwidth that does not allow for unlimited traffic. More traffic = more downloads = more RAM needed.
What is your level of experience and time to handle website maintenance?
Are you an experienced programmer with advanced technical skills who can do updates or do you require a managed service to ensure your website is up and running secure and smoothly? If you don’t update your plugins, your site can be vulnerable to attack. And the server itself needs regular security updates. Some of the cheap hosting plans leave you in a massive “hall” with poorly maintained websites, and server software that doesn’t get updated, leaving your site more exposed.
What is the risk to your business if your website gets compromised?
If your website gets hacked and used as an email gateway, your domain may be put on a blacklist. If your email is also on that domain, you may not be able to send or receive email, and it could take up to two months to get off the blacklist. How would your business survive if email was down for 2 months? Prevention is easier than cure!
The key is to find the plan that fits your budget and provides you with the features you need.
What web hosting service is the most reliable?
The list of add-ons to basic hosting packages is endless and not everyone needs the premium-extra-plus-service. However, there are some essential features that we recommend you take up, to keep your website running reliably, and stand a good chance of preventing cyber attacks (even small WordPress sites get around ten attacks each week – some of the bigger sites get thousands! Crazy world we live in).
- SSL certificate (that means your site is https:// not http which shows a message “this site is not secure”. This is considered necessary, and is important if you are trying to rank.
- Automated back ups. You also ideally want your programmer to be able to log in and retrieve this file immediately, and see a log of which files have been changed on what dates, so you can retrieve a recent back up copy before the hack if your site gets compromised.
- Security plugin that picks up if your site is being hammered e.g. someone trying to get in with lots of password attempts, and blocks that user.
- 24/7 monitoring and support, so if your site goes down, it is picked up as quickly as possible
- Manual back ups of core themes and plug-ins so if the whole thing goes pear shaped, or the hack is very broad, you do have a clean version that can be reinstated and plugins updated
- Fast server with unlimited broadband and storage so your site ranks well and won’t slow down as you add content (assuming you are using modern “next gen” formats for your photos, to keep your site speedy).
What web hosting services does Alexanders Digital Marketing offer?
We are an Amazon WordPress hosting provider and specialise in Managed WordPress Hosting. WordPress hosting is designed specifically to optimize WordPress websites for speed, performance and security. It pays special attention to WordPress’ technical and security requirements. As experts in WordPress we understand that hosting is an essential part of maintaining a website and offer advanced managed services as well as security software to keep your website out of trouble.
What does WordPress Hosting include?
Alexanders Digital Marketing includes the following in our WordPress web hosting plans:
- Managed WordPress Core Updates: all minor and major core version updates will be reviewed, inhouse tested and installed to ensure stability and to minimise the risk for breaking changes and other unforeseen issues
- Managed WordPress PlugIn Updates: all security and non-security related plugs in and patches will be installed to keep your website secure and operating.
- 24/7 monitoring and malware scanning
- Daily automatic backup of your full site including all files and database with ability to retrieve backups at a moment’s notice. No 24-hour delay waiting for an incomprehensible response from a junior at the big comms hosting companies.
- High level security suite to prevent your website from cyber attacks, identify rogue activity and block it. Uses known techniques except for those discovered in the last 30 days (see premium Wordfence option)
- Physical test by a real human once a quarter, to check your forms are working. We ask for your co-operation to confirm that these are received, so we can keep a record.Why is this necessary if there have been no code changes? Because from a security point of view, we want the latest versions of plugins with patches, and we set sites to automatically update, some new versions can conflict with each other, causing parts of your website not stop working.
- We set up a database to store your email form requests, so if anything happens or your email changes and you forget to tell us, you can log in and download any customer enquiries. Peace of mind.
- Automatic SSL certificate installation and HTTP/2 activated
- Latest version of PHP (old versions are more vulnerable).
- In-house customer support
- Fast and secure server with unlimited bandwidth and storage
- Certified Amazon web host
Web hosting Extras:
- Keep your inbox with reduced spam from forms with Cleantalk
- Premium Wordfence: blocks known cyber hack methods discovered in the last month (can’t guarantee every method will be covered, but it the most proactive prevention).
Alexanders’ Managed WordPress Hosting is a good solution for anyone who wants the power and simplicity of WordPress without the hassle of managing technical updates.
WordPress Web Hosting Costs
Our current pricing (Jan 2021) depends on traffic usage (bandwidth) and can be broadly clustered in:
|Hosting||Small Sites||Medium Sites||Large Sites with lots of traffic|
|Based on MB used but approximately:||$52 month||$89 month||$220-300 month|
|Cleantalk (reduces number of spam enquiries)||$5 (incl $10 discount for Alexanders Clients)||$5 (incl $10 discount for Alexanders Clients)||$5 (incl $10 discount for Alexanders Clients)|
|Wordfence premium||$170 p.a. plus $100 installation fee||$170 p.a. plus $100 installation fee||$170 p.a. plus $100 installation fee|
Prices exclude GST
What are the risks of shared hosting?
Is shared hosting safe? The risk of cheap shared web hosting services is that your site can be hacked. The result is that your website might stop running, it might be redirected so your site displays unwanted content, or send your visitors to an unrelated site overseas. Often, a hacked website is used to spam customers. Hackers earn money by getting traffic to foreign websites – even though that traffic is bogus. The most common hacks are due to a malware or spam attack, out-dated core themes and plug ins, weak passwords, or naïve staff who succumb to phishing attacks.
In the worst case, if your email is from the same domain and your domain gets used as an email gateway your domain can get on a blacklist. This means most clients won’t be able to send emails to you, because their email software subscribes to lists of “blacklisted” domains. It can take up to two months to get off these blacklists, and that could cripple a business.
This actually happened to one client of ours, a few years ago. Despite multiple calls and advice to update their website before this happened, they refused to talk to us and return our calls. When it happened, they were in the middle of some significant tenders and it was an absolute nightmare. Since then, we have made it compulsory for all sites we host to comply with at least a moderate number of preventative criteria. We can’t predict every new move, but we can be proactive to try and prevent common hack methods.
As the old saying goes: You get what you pay for.
It’s not a good idea to be complacent. What worked a couple of years ago won’t cut it now.
What are alternatives to shared hosting?
If you have a group of companies, it can pay to have all your sites managed under a larger server that you don’t share with other companies. However, typically the cost of this is higher, and this option doesn’t suit smaller companies.
Shared hosting itself is normal for most small to medium businesses. The risk of cheaper hosting options is they may not have the server software updated, you could be in with a haphazard group of sites that don’t have updates implemented, and that provides an entry point for hackers. There may be thousands of sites in your server, and when you need support, it could take 24 hours to get a copy of your site. They may not keep records on the files that were changed, so you don’t know how far back you need to go to retrieve a clean copy. And they may not have an alert system that your site has been compromised. It can be embarrassing to find out it’s been displaying other content for several days. Plus the offshore host servers may be a long way from your NZ visitors if the servers are in the US.
What’s involved in changing hosting?
We generally like to get a copy of your site, and ensure all the plugins and core theme are up to date. By keeping all our sites on a safe system, it keeps everyone safer. Every website has an IP address, and changing host means your IP address for the website will change. So either your IT team or our programmer will need to log in to your domain management, and enter the new IP address of the new server. If you have an IT person or consultant, it’s good for them to do this. It generally takes 24 hours for servers around the globe to take note of the new location. If you are receiving email from your domain e.g. [email protected], it is sensible for this domain to be added to your email settings, as some email platforms may think emails coming from the same domain address are spam. We will then add you to our quarterly update schedule. Once a quarter, we will alert you that we are going to do some core updates, ask you not to make changes for a day or two, and respond when you receive each form enquiry.
Can you provide me a web hosting quote?
The monthly amount does depend on the amount of traffic you get and it’s hard to tell this before we start hosting. Please drop us a line and we can give you an indication. The main things that affect cost are if you have lots of videos, or a large image gallery, or if images have been loaded willy nilly without regard to size and speed. In such cases, a good option is to include putting your images through ”next gen image compression software” which typically makes your site leaner and faster on mobile phones.
Will your hosting make my site faster?
There are many things that can be done to make a site download faster. Hosting set up is one of them. Old, out of date servers that don’t handle the latest version of php and old web themes that are heavy with extra features can make a site slow. Our Amazon hosting keeps a local cache which is a key strategy. Typically we allow around ten hours of programming to make a WordPress website faster (even more important now, after Google’s June 2021 algorithm update Core Web Vitals rewarded speedy sites).
To see if your website is fast enough, put your site through Google page speed insights. You want your mobile site to score at least 75%, ideally 80%. If it’s low, it’s time to get some work done. We can advise if your platform/theme is due for renewal or if it can be improved without a rebuild.
Not sure which hosting option is right for you?
Get in touch re your WordPress hosting and we can take a look (or phone us on 3488 477). Please note that we don’t host Shopify, Wix, Weebly or Squarespace sites.