Cheap hosting can be a false economy – why not all hosting is the same

Cheap hosting at £3 per month? Here at Outerbridge our support packages (including hosting) start at £99 per month! Sounds like choosing the £3 option is a “no-brainer” doesn’t it? Well, before you decide, read on…

Cheap hosting, or something better?

Well, unlike Model T Ford’s, there are many flavours of hosting available. Your hosting provider’s (technical) input will range from nothing to everything; you need to choose what best suits you and your business. So let’s delve into a few specific aspects of hosting:

Hardware

Websites may be 1s and 0s but they need to physically sit somewhere on the internet. So it’s important for the integrity of your website that it is hosted on a quality server. We use premium, commercial-grade VPS from a supplier renowned for the speed and quality of its equipment. (By the way, VPS stands for Virtual Private Server, which is really just a server sitting on a larger physical computer. So the hardware can be changed without significantly disrupting the software.)

Software

Onto the basic VPS, we have built and honed (and continue to develop) our own software configuration which “just works” behind the scenes.  If you’re technically minded and/or interested, the web part of the configuration uses Ubuntu, Nginx, MariaDB and PHP 7; if not, don’t worry, we have it covered!

Set-Up

The £3 per month cheap hosting we mentioned is called shared hosting, i.e. many many sites share the same server. Often these are “over-sold” meaning that if all the sites are actively used at the same time, then there isn’t enough system resources on the server to allow this to happen. The consequence is that your site will be very slow and your visitors won’t wait and will move on to your competitors’ sites. What’s worse, the hosting company will keep you on an oversold server as long as they can. It will be up to you to badger them to get your website moved.

So we put only put one site on one VPS. Is this overkill?  Perhaps, but it means that your site has access to all the resources of its server – no-one else’s site can affect yours.  Also every site has it’s own IP address (its unique spot on the internet), meaning that you don’t have any bad neighbours. Your neighbours (i.e. the other sites which share your IP address) used to have a big impact on your own site’s SEO; all of our customers’ sites are reputable anyway and it’s a moot point as to its ongoing importance, but we think that there’s no point taking any chances.  One site, one server, one IP address.

Speed

After the content of your website, arguably the next most important part of your site is its load speed. Google and the other search engines use this as a ranking factor. So the faster the site, the better it ranks. Customers moving their sites to Outerbridge have seen their page load times decrease by up to 86%, and every customer without fail has seen an improvement in their site’s load time.  And that speed improvement is not a one-off, it’s consistent – we check your site’s speed every month to ensure that there aren’t any issues.

Fully-managed

That £3 per month cheap hosting is a bare-bones offering. You’ll need to set the site up on the server yourself, i.e. you’ll need to load and configure the MySQL database and you’ll need to upload all the files that make up the framework of your site. If you don’t know how to do this, you will need to pay a developer or the hosting company to do it for you. You’ll also need to manage updates to your site’s themes and plugins yourself, along with updating WordPress core changes. All of this is included in our hosting and support packages. And we regularly optimise the database too! Having us manage your site means that you can concentrate on running your business.

Monitoring and Automatic Fail-Over

With most hosting, if your site is down, it’s your problem. You have to fix it. Moreover, you have to notice that it’s down in the first place! We’ve had customers come to us whose previous hosting supplier has allowed their sites to be unavailable, without their knowing, for such long periods of time that their SEO rankings have been affected by the downtime. As part of all our hosting packages, not only do we regularly monitor your site’s availability, we also have a system in place which, in the unlikely event of your site going offline, will automatically detect this and switch to a temporary site on a different server. We also get a notification and will be working to get the site back on line as quickly as possible.

Backups

The £3 per month cheap hosting does not include backups. Yet regular, complete backups are essential. If you don’t have them, you’ll almost certainly need them! You won’t be surprised to learn that we include backups in all our hosting and support packages.

Restore service

If the worst happens and something goes wrong with your site (e.g. you delete something vital), restoring your site to the latest backup is all part of the Outerbridge service. This can save countless hours of your time. Not to mention the hassle and heartache involved in getting it all sorted out.

Reliability

If you’ve read this far into this post, you’ll have probably got the gist by now that our service is far more than just a basic hosting service; it’s a premium product and we treat your website like it’s our own (maybe even better!). Quality components and ongoing monitoring mean that for the most part, we get very few issues with the sites that we host. But, on the rare occasion that something does goes wrong, we are well placed to sort the problem out quickly.

Support

Chances are, we will notice any problems before you do. But if you do have any questions or concerns, there’s no need to “raise a ticket”. You can contact us via telephone or email. You can deal with a real person that you know and will probably have met in person. Probably either Mike or Penny. And you will always receive friendly, helpful and professional service and advice.

Conclusion

Our hosting is more than just hosting. Comparing cheap hosting with one of our hosting and support packages is like comparing a build-it-yourself go-kart with a Lexus. In fact we’re so confident in our product, that we won’t tie you into a minimum contract or charge you an exit fee. You are free to leave at the end of the month, if you decide that we’re not for you.

Your website is an important part of your business, so the question is not really how much to spend, but how can you get a super-fast website, ultra-reliable performance and first-class help when you need it.

Contact us to find out more about how we can help you and your business.

Find out more about our fully-managed hosting packages.

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