Do you remember what happened to the Bad Nazi (are there any Good Nazis?) in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade?
The guy got jittery and chose a cup to drink from the sacred water and get eternal youth.
What happened? He chose the wrong one. And he turned into Methuselah’s granny.
Take a look (minute 2:19).
In the same way, choosing the wrong hosting provider or even the wrong hosting for your online project can end up horribly.
You’ll ask: how horribly? Well, here are a few examples I came across in recent months:
– An online store shutting down for 48 hours, with no backup. Setting up the server again in the new provider, eAndorra (my hosting partner) and bringing it back to life in record time.
– A corporate website going dead for 32 hours. The hosting technicians are still looking for the error.
– A spam attack from China. Shared server. Page dead for 24 hours. The firewall was practically non-existent.
I could go on describing the emailing to a 10,000-person data base, a server that went dead in 2 minutes (people who came in found a fried server and never came back), a corporate image damaged by dreadful server blackouts, etc.
To summarize: the hosting service is like your logistics partner. In principle, they are all great, but they prove how good they are when:
a) incidents are down to a minimum.
b) problems are handled professionally and in a short time.
Anything that does not stand by these two premises is not worthwhile.
There are no magic hosting services. There are no great hosting companies that charge $5 dollars a month.
Like everything else, you get what you pay for. And you pay to get peace of mind.
Would you pay a lot for a shutter for your physical store if you knew that it would never get stuck and you would be able to open it every day with no problems? I would.
Extend this to a store that’s open 24/7 and where 500 people can come in at the same time.
The same applies to your corporate website, personal blog, etc. Anything that is related to an online business should work well and have 100% uptime, or at least 99%.
How can you know what your project requirements are?
The best thing you can do here is find someone who knows his/her stuff.
He/she should know the application you will be using – Prestashop, Magento, Oscommerce, ZenCart, Drupal, Joomla, WordPress, etc. – as well as the requirements of the “house” you will be needing.
It’s also important for you to calculate the number of visits you will be having. What capture campaigns you will be carrying out and what investment you will be making, so you can estimate how many people will come in, and particularly, how many people will come in at the same time.
How does a hosting company make a living?
Let’s be honest here. A hosting company is a business that is based on getting a number of machines and making the most of them. What they want is to have the maximum number of people paying for the machine space and resources for as long as possible.
It’s a bit like a timeshare apartment. But if you have a timeshare apartment, the very least you know is that there is a calendar. The Joneses won’t stay in it the same weekend as the Smiths, because the Joneses want some peace and quiet. This is not exactly how a hosting company works. They have a machine (server) and want to host as many Joneses and Smiths in there as they can.
So it’s a matter of money and resources. The more you pay, the more resources you have, and you can even get an entire machine just for you.The less you pay, the more people there will be in the machine and the fewer resources you will get. Of course, you all pay the same, and you may get 10,000 visits every month while your neighbor gets 50,000. Your own personal Smith will use up more resources while paying the same. That’s the way it is. Suck it up. You should have paid more.
What’s the best solution?
I’ve been in this business for some time now, and I’ve come across real monstrosities:
– A shared server hosting more than 2,000 active pages.
– VPS servers that are a fucking mess, a shared server with a couple of added resources.
– Dedicated servers that are not so but for which clients pay $15,000 per year.
– Cloud servers that fail constantly.
– Companies that re-re-re-re-sell other companies’ servers and provide no technical assistance at all.
To summarize, I would opt for finding a good partner (I am lucky enough to have found it) and would get a dedicated server if the project can pay/amortize it.
Unfortunately, the world of hosting services is like having builders working in your home or amateur web designers. They take advantage of people’s ignorance to get one over you. It’s that pathetic. That’s just the way things are. So if you can choose your hosting service on someone else’s recommendation, so much the better.
By the way – if you don’t want to or are unable to pay for a really good server, you can also follow these examples sent by @ajulloa and @joseantgv (thanks!): give your users a ticket so that they can line up to access the server. Yes. You read it right.
– ClickSale, “you will enter the store in 2 minutes”
– Falabella.com, “you are in our waiting room”