How much do you know about your website hosting? why did you pick your hosting provider? was it the price? was it the first result on a Google search? or a friendly customer sales representative? While that representative may be able to persuade your choice, there are often two key factors that are neglected when choosing a reliable web hosting provider – speed and security.
We want to share with you our industry knowledge on the secret life of website hosting and why it’s so important to choose an efficient and reliable hosting provider.
Why getting it right is so important
Starting with the basics: a web hosting service allows your website to be visible on the World Wide Web for everyone to see. Hosting suppliers provide internet connectivity by offering space on a server owned or leased in a data centre. Most hosting plans come with a control panel, which is an interface used to set up email addresses, add databases, and manage FTP access to manage websites, backups, statistics, and e-commerce shopping carts.
Speed and security play important roles in ensuring your website is up and running at all times, so leaving that job in the right hands means that you don’t need to worry about your website being down or getting hacked.
Factors that contribute to Hosting Speed
Matching locality of hosting servers to your customer base can greatly help when it comes to page load speeds, especially if you are expecting high traffic. Overseas providers may offer superior rates or features but you should always consider where will most of your visitors will be accessing your site. You can check geographical distribution of your customer base on Google Analytics reports. Basically, if your main customer base is Australian, an Australian server location could be the best option for you.
Another advantage of choosing a local server is scheduled downtime. Server maintenance is a crucial part of the hosting lifecycle, and overseas server downtime can often occur in peak traffic time in another country.
Some web hosting providers offer superior CDN – Content Delivery Network – effective in speeding up the delivery of content on websites with high traffic, and websites with global reach.
The Content Delivery Network copies the pages of a website to a backbone of servers that are dispersed at geographically different locations, caching the contents of the page. This allows the nearest CDN node to the website visitor to respond to the request; the closer the CDN server is to the users geographic location, the faster the content will be delivered to the user. CDNs also provide protection from large surges in traffic. This is essential for businesses delivering large scale websites to a global audience as well as e-commerce transactions, dynamic content, mobile content, live and on-demand streaming media, and social networks.
The Domain Name System (DNS) is a central part of the Internet, providing a way to match names (a website you’re seeking) to numbers (the address for the website). DNS allows domain names with an Internet Protocol (IP) address, enabling users to visit websites at the corresponding URL address.
Cloudflare runs one of the largest DNS networks in the world with over 38% of managed DNS domains [source: cloudflare.com/dns]. It can accelerate and protect website by delegating the traffic through their secure network, powered by 117 data centres globally. Cloudflare automatically optimises the delivery of web pages so visitors experience the fastest page load times and performance. It also blocks threats and limits abusive bots and crawlers from wasting bandwidth and server resources.
Factors that contribute to Hosting Security
Websites always needs a physically secure home; think hurricanes, power shortages, and earthquakes. Your web host should ensure that the server is adequately maintained to limit anything that could potentially stop the server from running. Check to see if the host has a published security protocol which is a good (though not guaranteed) indication that they are on top of upgrades and patches.
If all security measures fail, backups are lifesavers that let you restore the latest version of your website. Web hosts can offer a regular or manual backup of your data in the case of emergency.
Keeping Your Data Secure
The best method to avoid risk is to prevent data access from hackers in the first place. If you use WordPress you should know that because of its popularity it is a frequent target for hackers. It is imperative that you keep the software up to date along with themes and plugins.
If you run an e-commerce business or want SEO rankings, purchasing an SSL certificate is a necessity. Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) provides an encrypted path between the browser and web server and lets visitors know the site and data is safe. This is indicated by a locked padlock symbol on the address bar along with the use of https:// in the address as opposed to http://.
Protect your website and visitor’s data by using website security software to check for malware and fix any breaches. You can also check your Google webmaster tools account, which can let you know if it finds malicious code on your site.
New Players in the Field: Cloud Hosting
With technology advances, comes new players in the field. Enter, Cloud Hosting. As the name suggests, Cloud Hosting is provided on virtual servers which pull their computing resource from extensive underlying networks of physical web servers. It offers powerful advantage over traditional single-server hosting for reliability, security and scalability.
We’ll put a spotlight on noteworthy cloud hosting providers for you –
Amazon Web Services
AWS is the pioneer and today’s leader of cloud infrastructure business. Launched in 2006, AWS provides an on-demand secure cloud computing platform, offering a broad set of computer power, database storage, content delivery etc to help businesses scale. One of their key service offerings are cloud web hosting solutions, supporting many CMS platforms with worldwide data centres, and providing dynamic infrastructure to meet fluctuating traffic.
The software giants integrated cloud computing service, Microsoft Azure, was released in 2010 primarily to build, deploy, and manage applications through their global network of data centres. Cloud hosting backed by a reputable multinational company is a big advantage if you are already accustomed to Microsoft development tools and office suite.
Google Cloud Platform
Newest to join the cloud engineering and cybersecurity is GCP, launched in 2011 as a direct competitor of AWS supremacy. Being the last to join the market, GCP is eager to offer innovative projects and partnerships, including generous free trials and cheaper long-term pricing.
All cloud providers are mature hosting platforms offering very similar robust, future-proof infrastructure. But special mention should be made to home grown Aussie providers such as Anchor, Crucial and Ventraip, which offer a big advantage over these tech giants, especially when it comes to live, over-the-phone localised customer support.
Hopefully that gives you a little insight into the world of website hosting. Chat with one of our team members if you have any questions about your hosting services, we will be able to provide suggestions on how to improve the performance of your website.