Four business critical reasons to spend a few extra bucks on website hosting

Andrew Stanten


I’ve seen it happen too many times. A company makes the smart decision to invest thousands of dollars and many hours in a best-practices website.

It’s Google-friendly, with intuitive navigation, clear calls to action, articulate messaging and a great design. Then, when it comes time to launch, pound foolishness rules the day. The CFO searches for “website hosting,” picks the cheapest result on the first page and figure he’s good to go.

He’s not. If a website is the engine of a business, hosting is the fuel. And hosting has, in many respects, become a commodity. Some providers host sites for as little as $5/month.  But like most things in life, you get what you pay for.

Types of Hosting

There are three basic forms of website hosting: traditional shared hosting, dedicated hosting and virtual private server (VPS).

In shared hosting, multiple websites reside on a single server. With dedicated hosting, you own (or lease) your own server. VPS is a hybrid solution, in which a server is split into several “virtual” servers – one of which you can virtually call your own.

Dedicated and VPS come with a host of advantages over shared – better uptime, faster page load, increased security. Of course, they also come with increased cost. But when you’re talking about the epicenter of your marketing, spending an extra $25-40 per month may make a lot of sense.

IP addresses

If you use a bargain-basement hosting service, you have no idea who you’ll be sharing with.

An IP address is your “true” address on the web – a series of numbers that point a browser to your website. For example, type into your browser bar, and you’ll end up at That’s an example of a dedicated IP address – a unique set of numbers dedicated exclusively to a single hosting account. This contrasts with a shared IP environment, where a number of sites on a single server share the same string of numbers.

Not too long ago, conventional wisdom held that any website worth its salt needed to have a dedicated IP address. That’s not necessarily true anymore – with some caveats.

While you probably don’t absolutely need your own IP address, you can’t simply throw caution to the wind. If you use a bargain-basement hosting service, you have no idea who you’ll be sharing with. And this can lead to big problems – especially if your business has international aspirations. Let’s suppose China represents 50 percent of your company’s growth potential. Now suppose a website sharing your IP is a political news site critical of China. The Chinese government could very well make that site invisible in the country by blocking its IP address – which is also yours. Through no fault of your own, you’re now a non-entity in a major market.

It costs a few bucks to work with an experienced web developer and a reputable hosting service, but doing so will allow you to make sure your hosting solution works for you. Different businesses have different needs on the web — it’s worth investing a little to make sure yours are met.

Slower Page Load

So if you don’t care about what Google thinks and don’t mind frustrating your prospects by having them wait for pages to load, by all means, cheap out.

A traditional shared environment often means slower page load speeds. Even if your website is relatively light on traffic and file transfer, a non-VPS shared environment might have you sharing a server with a site that is heavily trafficked – slowing down the performance of the entire “box.” If you have an image-rich site on a shared server, you might end up taking your visitors on a trip down memory lane to the days of dial-up internet.

Even more importantly, page load speed is one of the many factors through which Google determines its page rankings. So if you don’t care about what Google thinks and don’t mind frustrating your prospects by having them wait for pages to load, by all means, cheap out.

Database backups

Hacking is a real concern, and if a site on your traditional shared server is compromised from the outside, it opens yours up to security concerns. But more frequently, a website is compromised from within – either by a disgruntled worker or a well-intentioned employee who mistakenly screws things up.

It’s essential to have a daily database backup plan in place — whether it’s provided by a premium hosting service or an outside IT contractor. In the event your site is compromised, it can be quickly restored to the previous day’s version without hours – or days – of downtime. Remember, most bargain-basement hosting companies don’t provide any form of backup at those insanely attractive introductory rates. In fact, a leading low-cost provider of hosting explicitly states on their own website that they “do not offer redundant or mirrored backups,” “will run courtesy backups at [their] discretion” and “assume no responsibility for failed backups, lost data or data integrity.” Boy … that’s reassuring.

Customer support

If you’re paying $5/month for hosting, good luck even getting someone on the phone.

What happens if your site goes down at 2 a.m.? What if it slows to a crawl because someone sharing your server is getting massive, unexpected traffic? Who are you going to call?

Most robust hosting services provide a direct line to a dedicated person who usually knows there’s something wrong with your site before you even do. The best of the best will even text or email you to let you know an issue has been resolved – often before you even knew there was an issue.

If you’re paying $5/month for hosting, good luck even getting someone on the phone.

Take your time

Hosting is an essential — and too often overlooked — factor in the web development process. And there’s no one-size-fits-all solution; businesses, after all, have different wants and needs. The most important point is this: Do your research. There are resources out there who do this all day, every day. Take advantage. Spending a few extra bucks now could save you a whole lot — of money, and of headaches — down the line.

Andrew Stanten

Andrew Stanten co-founded Altitude Marketing in 2004. As CEO, he ensures the right people are on board, delivering world-class marketing services to Altitude’s global client base, and staying true to Altitude’s mission, vision and values.
Andrew possesses an innate ability to process, organize and summarize massive volumes of client and market information and turn it into actionable, strategic thinking. This enables Team Altitude to get smart about a company quickly—and develop winning, integrated approaches that vault clients into a position of prominence and strength.
Andrew graduated from Syracuse University and earned his MBA from Lehigh University.