What You Should Be Paying for Web Hosting

Most small- to medium-sized businesses are paying too much for hosting. Hint: if it's more than $10 a month, it's probably too much

cloud hosting

Most small- to medium-sized businesses are paying too much for hosting. Hint: if it’s more than $10 a month, it’s probably too much

Unlike your website, which I know you’re updating all the time, your web hosting account is probably something you think about as often as your coffee maker. But the truth is that most small to medium-sized businesses are paying too much for hosting, or at least aren’t paying for what they need.

Get what you need

Two hosting issues that came up at our company recently illustrate this point. In building a new website for one client, we discovered that even though they were getting less than 1000 hits a month on their old site, they were paying (a hosting company, not us) nearly $100 a month. We helped them switch to a $7 a month plan that still provided them with all the capacity they needed and more, but still saved them over $1100/year.

Meanwhile, another client, paying just 3$ a month for their web hosting, had received some major publicity and was about to receive upwards of 10,000 hits in a single day. This amount of traffic would have greatly exceeded their capacity, so we had to act fast.

Fixed vs Variable

No, I’m not talking about mortgages – I’m (still) talking about web hosting. For the $3/month client (again, that’s what they pay a third-party hosting company, not us), we switched them to “cloud” hosting, which allows them to scale their capacity up and down along with their usage. Sort of like a pay-as-you-go plan, rather than an overpriced contract. Pay for what you get, what a concept!

Windows vs Open Source

We were able to switch the first client to a cheaper plan because we built them a website using open-source technologies. But the reality is that most businesses are using Windows-based systems (often old “legacy” systems), and Windows-based web hosting is simply more expensive. Now, I don’t want to get on the bad side of Mr Gates et al., and Microsoft is a fine choice for enterprise-level IT solutions. But there’s no need to pay enterprise-level bills if you’re an SMB.

Making the switch

If you do decide to make the switch, there are a few other things to keep in mind. For one, website hosting is often bundled with email hosting, so you have to make sure your email accounts get transferred properly as well. That can also mean reconfiguring your Blackberries and Outlook accounts all over again, which can be a pain.

There are also a plethora of hosting companies out there, from the place where you bought your domain name (e.g., GoDaddy) to your Internet Service Provider (e.g., Telus). However, as with most services, you’re better off going to a specialist. Here are a few that I trust:

Bluehost: $7/month gets you all the capacity you need, plus unlimited emails, storage, and domains. This is the service we recommend to most clients.

Justhost: As its name suggests, the most barebones option out there, but reliable nonetheless. At just $3/month, it’s a great option if you only have a single domain, but the price benefit is lost if you have more than one.

Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2): This is the pay-as-you-go option, and it’s the way of the future. At $150/month to start, it’s more expensive, but it’s ultra-scalable and ultra-reliable, and still a bargain for high-traffic sites.

Hosting may seem technical (OK, it is), but that’s what you’re paying your pocket-protector people for. As a small business owner, all you need to know is that if you’re paying more than $10 a month for hosting and email, you’re almost certainly paying too much.