Your Budget Website Hosting Plan May Not Be Good Enough

Chances are you haven’t put much thought into your current website hosting arrangement. Whether you built your website on your own, had assistance from a marketing agency, or just left it to your IT department, your site likely ended up at a budget website host because that seemed like the best option at the time. With many hosting packages costing around $5 a month, why pay more? As the old adage goes, “you get what you pay for,” and there are reasons today for why a more robust and higher-priced hosting package may be required for your website.

To be clear, the website host is where your actual website files live, whether it’s a static site or a content management system like WordPress. This is often different from the domain registrar, which is where your domain name (such as crownpointsolutions.com) is registered and managed. Sometimes, the registrar and the hosting provider can be the same, as GoDaddy or Network Solutions register domains and also provide web hosting. Additionally, email services are often packaged with web hosting, though email can be handled separately depending on the needs of your company.

Budget Hosting Limitations

Most website hosting companies, such as Lunarpages and HostGator, offer basic, budget hosting packages for less than $10/month with a basic level of support. These types of hosting plans are tailored for small businesses and startups, and may not necessarily be suitable for the longer-term life cycle of a business. While hosts can be generous with disk space and bandwidth, they are stingy with system resources such as RAM and CPU usage. Budget packages by nature share a server with many other accounts, so if one account uses too many server resources, the hosting provider will often shut an account down until the problem is resolved, sometimes without any prior notice to the customer.

This is more of a problem today due to the large amount of content management systems (CMS) in use, most notably open source platforms like WordPress, Joomla, and Drupal. Three resource-consuming factors involved are CMS plug-ins, hacking attempts to your site, and in some cases, hacking attempts that have succeeded. A simple WordPress site may only have a few plug-ins, but often have 10 or more, which add various features such as slideshows and contact forms. Plug-ins are created by different developers of different skill levels, so they vary in cost, quality, efficiency, and security. Each plug-in uses server memory resources, so after a certain point, the budget hosting account runs out of allocated memory and automatically stops showing content.

Security and Hacking

Hacking attempts also consume server resources. One common example is a “brute force” login attack where a hacker repeatedly tries different username/password combinations to try to break into the admin section of the website. When this occurs, a host may require adding a Captcha or hiding the standard login URL. While these can save server resources used by hacking attempts, the extra plug-ins also use more server resources.

Not surprisingly, successfully hacked websites can use up even more server resources. While some hackers deface the homepage or add links to dubious websites, many prefer to quietly use the hacked account to run programs in the background, such as to send email spam, distribute malware, or to launch hacking attempts at other websites. In addition to increasing the server load, these hacks can even affect the reputation of your domain and your business causing other problems that may be difficult to resolve. Many website hosting companies scan for known malware files or spam, so they may catch these problems, and if so, shut down the website until it’s fixed. With a CMS, that sometimes means rebuilding the website files and looking closely at the database for exploits. If there isn’t a clean, current backup to return to, that can be a time-consuming, expensive process. We recommend having current backups of your website at least once a month, if not more, depending on how often the website is updated.

For a CMS like WordPress, it’s increasingly difficult to provide adequate security with a budget host. To have a full-featured website with extra security measures means you will need a more robust hosting environment. One of the challenges is that most hosting companies don’t offer options between an inexpensive package and a more-expensive, scalable cloud hosting package such as a virtual private server (or VPS).

Scalable Hosting and Security Solutions are Available

To help remedy this and give customers a mid-range option, vendors like Crown Point Solutions are offering managed web hosting environments that can scale to meet the needs of your website, including those websites that need a little more than a budget host can provide. Ongoing services such as traffic and resource monitoring, maintenance, software updates, backup and recovery are also available.

If you’d like more information on web hosting options or if you have any website security concerns, please contact us via phone or email and we’ll help you through the decision-making process.

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