4 Min Read
Everybody and everything in life has a home – salt and pepper lives in the cupboard, Bees live in a hive and Hermit crabs live in sea shells.
The term ‘Server’ is common terminology in modern day life – you store stuff on them in work and corporations blame them when services go down but very few people actually understand what it is and how it’s important to them.
To relate this to how it affects you, a server is where your website lives. A server is simply a computer that holds the files of your website and when you enter your domain name into a web browser, it communicates to the server and the server ‘serves’ the relevant files and documents that create a web page. For any website owners, the term ‘Server’ and ‘Hosting’ is interchangeable. When you go to a hosting company and purchase hosting from them, you are renting space on a server.
The server your website sits on should have the same level of importance to you as your website. Because it’s a step into the unknown, people are often guilty of making huge presumptions which in turn create huge problems for your business and its profitability.
All servers have a resource limit and you must ensure the demands of your website are within the capabilities of the server it sits on.
If you exceed your server resources, most of the time it would result in down-time for the website. You may see an error page on the website instead of the page you wanted and all this ensures is that visitors won’t be turning into customers.
On top of the tangible loss in revenue through the website, it can also affect your organic traffic coming through search engines. If the search engines see your website down, then they will stop ranking your website until it’s fixed.
You get what you pay for. I can book a Bed and Breakfast for £10 a night, but I’m not going to get a robe and a free minibar.
Likewise, you can pay £1 a month for hosting. It could be sold with unlimited bandwidth 100GB of space and sound like the best deal ever but it’s not!
On the same website you can also probably get ‘deluxe features’, ‘premium management tools’ and ‘1 Year SSL’ for £7.99 a month. Again, it sounds like we’re living the dream but were not!
Cheap hosting is a server often shared with 100’s of other websites meaning the server is pushed to its limits to gain the most revenue out of it. If you have cheap hosting and you start to drive more traffic to the website, then chances are it will break your website. It’s like booking into that £10 B&B and having 20 people expecting to sleep in the room in absolute comfort.
Things like unlimited bandwidth sound great, 100GB of storage sounds more than enough, but it’s the other aspects which make up a server that restrict. If you have 1000 people on your website at once, can the processor handle it? Does the server have enough memory to handle this amount of traffic?
It’s important to take advice from people, ask what’s suitable. If you have a WordPress website that’s there to collect leads through forms, then you don’t need to pay over the odds for the server. Still, don’t go cheap, as if you lose leads due to the server and its capabilities then the value of lost business would be way more than the cost of a suitable server.
If you are running a Magento website selling your products online, then ensure your server is suitable for it. As a platform, Magento is very good, but also very demanding. A reliable server for Magneto could range from £500 to £5000+ per month.
Another talking point in regard to hosting and servers are backups. As a business owner, it’s your responsibility to ensure your business is safe, secure and, from a website perspective, backed up. Paying for a backup service is like buying an insurance policy for your website – you wouldn’t overlook your car or building insurance for your business.
Servers DO break, they are made up of circuit boards, cables, and the environment around it. On occasion, you can have total server failure and if this happens you need to think about how to get your website back online. If your main revenue is online, what would happen if you website was lost right now?
I’ve seen complete failure and loss of site several times in my marketing career and the consequences can be devastating.
Speak to your agency or developer. Most of the time very little (if any) money is made from hosting what you are being told can be trusted.
They will have experience of what is needed for different types of website and they will have the appropriate level of forward thinking to ensure you’re future proof without overpaying.
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