I thought I’d answer some of the questions we’re most frequently asked during the website enquiry/sales process, starting with hosting.
Hosting your own website can be confusing, and there are so many options out there, which do you choose?
Hosting vs Managed Hosting – What’s the Difference?
The easiest way to understand the difference between standard hosting versus managed hosting, is to use the analogy of buying a new house for your family. You could choose the do it yourself approach and buy some land, choose a house design, find a builder, and build your new family home. This is the same process when you purchase hosting, you are effectively buying a piece of land on the company server (to be exact you’re leasing space on their server).
So with the do it yourself approach you have to find a website design, choose and install a Content Management System (CMS), and build your website. Ongoing, you will also need to maintain that CMS software, any add-on software, run security checks, and iron out any software bugs that occur.
Not everyone in small business has the time, or desire, to do this!
Small businesses need a website, but they don’t need the extra responsibilities of managing one. So why can’t the server operators manage the CMS software, add-on software, run security checks, and iron out software bugs?
That’s where Managed Hosting comes in, a newish concept for website hosting. Instead of building a new house for the family, you decide to move into a hotel or serviced home. As with a serviced apartment you’ll spend less time cleaning and gardening, and with managed hosting you spend less time maintaining your website software. Instead, you can put this time into producing content, engaging with potential clients, and actual service delivery.
Features You Can Expect:
There’s a gazillion providers of plain old hosting out there, you can get cheap as chips options from as little as $5 per month. What you’ll get included with this type of hosting depends, but it’s usually pretty simple stuff like:
- 1 or more websites
- A certain amount of storage/space (i.e. for your images and videos)
- Email hosting
- Sometimes a domain name can be included, depending on the provider
- Access to maintain your site via a control panel interface
- Server security monitoring (which can vary a great deal)
- Tech support for your HOSTING only, i.e. not for plugin or CMS support (e.g. WordPress).
Then you need to install your CMS of choice, such as WordPress and away you go, you can build your website.
Managed Hosting (focusing here on WordPress) is a bit different. Costs will generally start at around $29/month and will include extra features, such as:
- CMS software installed and ready to go
- Core WordPress updates
- Security updates
- Daily backups
- Malware scanning
- Should have a good understanding of plugins and can troubleshoot issues
- Basically – the tech aspects of running a WordPress site are managed by your host, not YOU.
Question to ask yourself – Do I have the time and knowledge to manage the technical elements of my website myself?
If you want to focus on content and service delivery, and you hate dealing with tech stuff, then the answer is likely NO.
If you are comfortable with tech and don’t mind searching for the answers you need when something goes wrong, then plain old hosting may do for you. You can always pay for a developer to go in and fix issues as and when they occur. For example – if you install a new plugin which then causes a conflict with other software, you could spend a great deal of time (and possibly money) to get the issue fixed.
Also check out this great post from the Elegant Themes blog about the real costs of running a website, for a detailed breakdown of options.
Leave a comment and let us know – what’s your preference? Investing your time, or your money when it comes to hosting your own website?
Photography by: Death to the Stock Photo
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