July 26th, 2009 Add Your Comments Bookmark and Share

One of the most important things with running any business is keeping your costs under control. If you consider your attempts at making money online to be a business then one of the very first costs you’re going to encounter is hosting. If you’re in anyway serious about making money from the internet then you really need your own website, free services like WordPress hosted and Blogger just aren’t worth it. When it comes to choosing hosting there are 2 factors that tend to influence people the most 1. How reliable is the service? 2. How much traffic will my hosting account handle?

How Reliable Is My Hosting Service?

This is a belter of a question. In order to guarantee uptime people think that they have to spend more money – In my experience this is nothing but a myth. In general people tell you this in order to get a better affiliate commission. As of this moment I use 7 different hosting services spread throughout the world – Australia, USA, UK and the Isle of Man. I have different types of account, shared hosting, VPS (Virtual Private Servers) and one dedicated server. The price I pay for these accounts varies from less than $2 a month to over $150 a month. When I look at my website monitoring stats I can see that my dedicated server has only marginally (we are talking minutes in a year) more uptime than my cheapest shared hosting. What I’m trying to say here is that when the infrastructure of a hosting company goes down for whatever reason it doesn’t matter how much you pay them, your website is going down. For most people there is no need to be paying for a VPS or dedicated server (JohnChow.com which runs of a dedicated server for example has far more downtime than any of my hosting accounts). Paying over the odds for these services is just stupid unless you really need access to the full services of a remote PC. If you have several websites and are looking for uptime then you’d be much better hosting those websites on different reliable but cheap hosting accounts. The next question is, will this cheap shared hosting be able to handle my traffic levels?

How much traffic will my hosting account handle?

So buying VPS/dedicated server hosting doesn’t guarantee you any more uptime but you may need it in order to handle the demand your website will generate, or at least this is how another myth goes. At what point do you THINK you need to upgrade to a VPS, 500 visitors a day? 1000 visitors a day? How about 10,000 visitors a day? It might surprise you to know that I have websites that individually receive over 15,000 visitors a day being hosted on multiple domain shared hosting accounts that cost much less than $20 a month. I’ve NEVER (touch wood) had any problems with excess resource usage. At times some of these domains have topped 40,000 visitors a day, still with no problems. If you find yourself on the front page of Digg then from what I’ve seen a dedicated server is just as likely to fall over as a shared server. Paying more will not help you with this.

In my opinion I just don’t see the need for VPS/dedicated server hosting for the average webmaster. In fact the only reasons I could see for using it are if you’re running a massively popular web service (in which case you should be hosting your own servers and using load balancing) or if you require some sort of funky server configuration. The other situation is for companies that have some sort of liability for the security of the information they are storing.

Shared Hosting Services I Recommend

If you’re looking for Linux based shared hosting then there are 2 services that I really recommend. First of all is MidPhase (I have 2 accounts). For the last 12 months they have been a rock solid host and at less than $11 a month for multiple domains you can’t go wrong. The second service is BlueHost (I have 1 account). It’s less than $7 a month for multiple domains and again I’ve never had any problems with down time with BlueHost. Both of these services are perfect for WordPress hosting, BlueHost even offer a simple one click setup.

If you’re after a shared Windows IIS hosting service then you can’t go wrong with Netcetera (I have 1 account). They are a company local to me being based in the Isle of Man and I have very good reasons for trying to turn people away from using Netcetera (chicks of course, it got complicated). As much as I’d like to bad mouth them they have been superb so credit where it’s due (especially considering some of the shaky ASP.net stuff I’ve put live). At approx $8 a month they offer a superb service with skilled dedicated Windows admins looking after your accounts and not a dodgy call centre in sight.

Just to provide some balance I suppose I’d better mention a couple of bad hosts. Well for a start we have GoDaddy. They are seriously shit. The control panel is a mess but much more importantly I’ve found that running any type of a database driven website from their servers is slower than a slow thing on a slow day. Avoid at all costs, there are cheaper but much better hosts out there. Secondly there are the Windows specialists M6.net. Easily the most useless hosting control panel I’ve ever experienced. It seems that every single task you may want to do with your hosting will result in you needing to send a support ticket. They’ve also been my host with the most down time over the last 3 years.

I hope this post has gone some of the way to giving you a balanced view of what sort of money you should be spending on your hosting. In simple terms if you’re the average sort of webmaster with 3 or 4 websites with several thousand visitors a day your best bet is simply to utilise 2 shared multi domain hosting accounts, this will likely cost you less than $20 a month.