Web hosting: What should I do?

Before I even start with tech speak, consider this: If you had a million dollars would you put it under you mattress and guard it yourself every day? Or would you put it in a bank?

We build a lot of websites for our clients, which means website hosting is critical to making those great new websites run well and on the platform we use, WordPress. Clients often have a number of hosting-specific questions, including:

  • Should we host our own website?
  • Can Meister Media host our website?
  • What are the advantages of having someone else host our website?
  • Who is the best host for our new website?

I’m going to answer some of these questions, and might add new ones as they come along.

Meister Media has an array of servers, but we do not host our own websites. Nor will we host your website. Security is the primary reason we outsource this work we could do ourselves.

The web moves fast, and the technology that websites run on moves extremely fast with patches, updates, security issues, etc. At times, changes may need to be made daily depending on different types of installations. Making sure the latest patches, updates and security updates are in place on your servers can consume much of an IT team’s day, so we would rather have that work done by experienced professionals focused entirely on web server maintenance.

Let’s be even more specific … WordPress is our preferred content management system, and it has been great at providing users with necessary security updates. But WordPress sites still get hacked. Why?

The security holes and hacks that happen to WordPress websites generally happen because the software on the server is out of date. The update from WordPress was never installed. Such a lack of update provides hackers a backdoor into the server and into websites on that server.

Long story short, if your IT team isn’t experts in LAMP (Linux, Apache, MySQL and PHP), then hosting your own website means risking its security.

Another reason for outsourcing hosting to a dedicated company is the daily backups they can provide. Does your IT group perform the nightly backups necessary to ensure you always have access to the most current version of your website in the event it crashes? Many companies hosting their own site miss this key detail and find themselves rebuilding the site from the page templates after a bad crash.

Furthermore, a dedicating hosting company is a hardware management business, which means offering clients a 24/7 support staff. Frankly, we feel more confident that we can recommend a hosting company that will be there for you in an instant should there be a server outage on a Saturday night at 11:35 p.m. That’s not a service level we can provide ourselves.

Third-party website hosting does create an expense for your business … but not necessarily a big expense. Most of our clients pay less than $30 a month for hosting. If one of your IT people has to spend more than an hour on your web server, you’ve probably already spent more than that $30.

Okay, so who do we recommend for hosting? As a WordPress development house, we highly recommend WP Engine. That’s who hosts our websites along with a number of the websites we’ve developed for clients.

Why do we use them? Daily backups, 24/7 support by staff who know WordPress inside and out. Great customer support. And they run on Rackspace, which is the world’s largest hosting company. (They also offer a number of other great features and benefits many companies don’t realize they want or need. Click here for details.)

Another hosting option to consider is GoDaddy. They have WordPress hosting, our opinion is that they lack the number of experts WP Engine offers so service can take longer.

Roughly 900 million websites exist in the world, so web hosting has become a commodity. Entrusting your website to the right hosting company means turning it over to people who do nothing but build, develop and care for web servers every day. They’re the experts in the field, and you benefit from their expertise.

So, let’s come back the question about what you would do with that million dollars … none of us will store it in our mattresses for safekeeping, right? Well, your website may not be worth seven figures, but it certainly has considerable value. Hopefully this post helps you see the benefits of protecting that website by hosting it with the right people.

Charlie Craine is the Director of Digital Media for Meister Media. He can be reached at 440/602-9129 or ccraine@meistermedia.com.