It’s easy to get caught up in all the excitement of building your online store, sourcing products and building a brand… which is why so many eCommerce entrepreneurs overlook something crucial – the hosting. The choices you make about how and where to host your online store play a huge role in the speed, reliability and trustworthiness of your site.
So, what are your choices and what do you need to know about each one?
Shared hosting is the quickest and easiest way to get started with your eCommerce store which is why its also the most common way to go. In shared hosting, you’re renting space on someone else’s servers to host your online store and they provide you with all the tools and systems you need including a control panel to run your site. This type of hosting starts from as low as $5 a month for a basic plan and can get as high as $200 a month for premium services.
If you think Shared Hosting is the way to go, there are a few things you should be looking at when comparing providers:
- What software is compatible? Do they support the content management system and shopping cart that you want to use?
- Where are the servers? For the best user experience, good Google rankings and fastest site possible you want to make sure your hosting company runs its servers in Australia.
- How will they keep your website secure? Do they have a plan for protecting your site against DDoS attacks and have strong firewalls? Will they provide an SSL certificate to protect your customers and their payment details?
- Do they provide statistics of their uptime and reliability? Do they guarantee it?
- Are regular and automatic site backups included in the price?
- How are their Google reviews?
Virtual Private Servers (VPS)
Like shared hosting, Virtual Private Servers are a way of renting shared space on someone else’s servers. As the name suggests, you get access to your own ‘virtual’ and ‘private’ server that lives in the providers hosting environment. VPS are a great choice if you want more control over your hosting – you can install any software you like, configure the firewalls and do things your way. You also get slightly more guarantee that the computer power you’re paying for is available for you when your site needs it. In general, VPS is for site builders who are confident managing every aspect of their hosting.
Just as with shared hosting, you need to consider where the servers are and the providers security and reliability. However, with VPS, backups are even more important. How are backups taken and how easy is it to recover data from them?
Once again, dedicated servers are the next step up. The features and functionality are basically the same as a VPS, but this time you have an entire, real, physical server all to yourself. Why would you want that? Speed and power. Your online store will have access to 100% of the server’s resources meaning you’re not sharing things like CPUs and hard drives with other websites and servers which might be on the same hardware. It’s all yours.
When weighing up dedicated server options, in addition to what we’ve discussed so far, you’ll want to pay special attention to the performance specifications. These are usually the speed of the CPU, the amount of RAM and how much disk space is available. If you’re comparing dedicated servers, you should be looking for a minimum of 4 CPU cores, at least 8 GB of RAM and the disk/storage should be SSD to give your site the best performance.
Data centre hosting is the way to go if you want total control over the hardware and location of your eCommerce site. If you go this way you’re doing what the hosting companies do in Shared Hosting, VPS and Dedicated Servers – you’re buying your own server equipment and installing it into a facility designed to house, power and connect the millions of servers across the internet. The upshot is you get to choose your servers specifications, choose the facility where its located and you have complete control over the whole setup. The downside is its more complex, requires a much bigger upfront investment and the ongoing costs are usually higher. However, if you like to be in charge or your website is growing quickly this might be the right choice for you.
When evaluating data centre hosting there are some very different factors that come into play:
- Where is the data centre and who runs it?
- Is the facility purpose built?
- What arrangements are in place for backup power, network connections and air conditioning systems?
- How is the facility secured against intruders?
- Is the facility protected against flood and fire?
- What is the data centres track record when it comes to reliability and uptime?
- How will you maintain your equipment and backup your data?
All good data centre operators will be able to provide these details. For example, Caznet, an Adelaide based data centre service provider, publishes all the specifications and has a FAQ page answering these questions.
Choosing the right hosting for your eCommerce website doesn’t need to be a daunting task. Consider your objectives and budget, then evaluate the options available to you paying close attention to the details we’ve looked at above and the providers reviews.
Good luck and happy selling!