This is the third post in a four-post series about security risks related to website hosting.
When you were deciding between hosts for your new website, did you pick the cheapest option?
If so, you’re not alone.
Most business owners think that cheap hosting will save them money. They assume that every host is renting the same space on the same Internet.
They couldn’t be more wrong.
When a website host is carrying your business’s precious cargo, the cost should be just one of many factors you consider…
Does Your Web Host Pass Muster?
I’ve heard countless horror stories about websites and email accounts that disappeared, all because of cheap hosting. The key to preventing those nightmares is vetting your host from the start.
Contact several providers, and ask them these three questions.
(1) What level of service do you provide?
Some hosts simply give you the space to host your website and make YOU responsible for back-ups and security. Other hosts assume those responsibilities but charge you more to do so.
Remember that the right question isn’t “Can I afford it?” It’s “Can I afford NOT to?”
If you pay $10,000 for a website and then host it on a cheap system that doesn’t protect it, you might as well have built a mansion on a swamp. Your site will probably get hacked or destroyed in a crash—and you won’t have any back-up.
The worst part? You agreed to the terms and conditions specifying that your host is not responsible.
Reputable hosts won’t try to trick you by hiding your responsibilities in the fine print.
(2) How do I contact you if something happens to my site?
First, make sure your host provides a contact phone number. Seem like a no-brainer?
It’s not for the multitude of businesses that host with www.dreamhost.com.
DreamHost claims to host more than one million websites, and it’s one of the cheapest hosts around. Yet they provide no contact phone number anywhere on their site. If your site gets hacked or your emails disappear, you have no idea what number to call!
(3) Who are your clients?
While investigating a large host I wanted to use for my clients, I found out that they already host Home Depot’s, P. Diddy’s, and John Cougar Mellencamp’s websites. That gave them instant credibility with me. I didn’t care that they weren’t the cheapest because their existing clientele earned them my confidence. I haven’t regretted it since.
The Myth About Web Hosting ROI
If you spend $9.95 per month for hosting but your site crashes, your customers get error messages, and your credibility goes done the drain, have you really saved anything?
Now, if you have to pay $50 to $100 per month but your website is reliable, you don’t even know what “downtime” is, and you’re getting tons of business…
That’s a good ROI!
Think of website hosting as business continuity insurance. Your Web host is a liability. Spending between $600 to $1,200 per year to keep the face of your business effortlessly online is 100% worth it.
Where is the Website Hosting Industry Headed?
The industry is moving toward three primary host types:
(1) “Cheapskate Magnet” Hosts—These are cheap hosts that over-sell their space for inarguably cheap rates ($1.99 to $14.99 per month). Unfortunately, they offer no support to their uneducated and unsuspecting clients, who will inevitably get burned.
(2) “Fort Knox” Hosts—These are PCI-Compliant, HIPAA-Compliant hosts, whose services cost anywhere from $500 to $1,500 per month. For a hefty fee, you’ll guarantee little downtime and will be able to handle sensitive transactions, if needed.
(3) Managed Hosts—These are the ideal hosts for most businesses. They charge between $50 and $100 per month for a service that doesn’t require strict compliance but still has adequate back-ups, continuity plans, proactive server and website updates, and security tests. And a phone number to call during an emergency!
Stay tuned for my next blog post: Practical Tips for Preventing Website Hacks. For more help navigating the website hosting industry in the meantime, call us today at (410) 312-0081.
— Randy Goldstein, Web Programmer and Hosting Services Provider