How To Choose The Right Small Business Hosting

People in the UK love using the internet!

In 2018, 90% of UK adults reported recent use of the internet

In addition, 87% of all UK retail purchases were done online, with an average purchase of around £33 per transaction.

It goes without saying nowadays that every small, medium or large UK business needs to have an online presence.

In addition, relying solely on third-party shopfronts like eBay & Amazon isn’t a good long term solution for your business.

They can shut your online shop down at any time & often without recourse or notice. 

This can be because of a change of terms, complaints, delayed shipping, etc.

The effect can be devastating to your business.

Thus you should always ensure you have your own, actively promoted, business website hosting in place, so you’re not totally reliant on a 3rd party for your online digital presence.

There are also some proprietary online eCommerce shopping solutions such as Shopify, Weebly, etc. 

However, the catch with these services is the very fact that they are proprietary & expensive.

You’re therefore locked into their service & will find it very difficult to move to another provider if they increase prices, provide poor service, etc.

Choosing the right hosting provider & technical solution for your requirements is critical to ensuring the long term success of your online business.

When choosing a web & email hosting solution, the main areas of concern for your business, in order of importance are:

  1. Reliability

  2. Performance

  3. Compatibility

  4. Support

  5. Price

Yes, price is the least important!

Most small to medium business hosting solutions don’t vary much in price & aren’t very expensive when compared to other business expenses such as rent, business rates, etc.

As with any other service or product, the cheapest solution often seems irresistible, but no doubt comes with drawbacks with regards reliability, performance, compatibility & support.

Let's take a look at each of these in turn.

Reliability

For reliability, small to medium businesses should be looking for some type of cloud hosting service.

This normally implies that the hosting provider has multiple servers configured in what is known as a cluster, with resilient, multipath networking.

In a cluster, multiple servers can perform the same tasks with some taking on the roles of compute and others for storage.

This ensures there is no single point of failure for the services provided & offers maximum availability for your business website & email.

You should always check with your provider’s technical team exactly what they mean by ‘cloud hosting’, as this term is much abused in the hosting industry & can mean different things to different providers!

At Farbyte we provide industry-leading clustered cloud hosting services, with separate compute and storage clusters, ensuring maximum uptime and availability for all hosted services including web, email & VPS hosting.

Your website needs to be online & doing its job 24/7. Take any doubt out of the equation by choosing Farbyte cloud hosting.

Performance

If your website runs slow, it causes two major issues:

  1. Visitors will leave the site due to frustration.

  2. It will hurt your Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) efforts with the likes of Google.

Both of the above will cause you to lose business!

Although not many hosting providers tell you this, the main hardware components that will affect the speed of your hosting service is normally disk storage access.

Traditionally, disks are the slowest component in the server, with access times 1,000’s times slower than RAM. Slow disks will affect your sites ability to read files, emails, database information, etc.

With shared & VPS hosting you won’t be the only one wanting to access the storage. There can be many other websites also requiring access at the same time.

A hosting service should at least be using some sort of SSD & RAM caching.

At Farbyte we use enterprise-class Intel Optane disks & CEPH distributed storage cluster across a dedicated Infiniband network for maximum performance. This really is enterprise-level service at small business prices!

We also employ servers with huge amounts of RAM (around 128GB on average). This means we can cache more of our client's data, pushing performance even higher.

At Farbyte, we outperform other hosting providers by a long way in every aspect. For example, our average shared web hosting client enjoys a Time To First Byte (TTFB) of 88ms, which is 24x faster than both the 2018 UK & USA  hosting industry average!

Compatibility

Getting locked into a service providers ‘system’ is a scary prospect.

If they suddenly decide to increase prices, change their terms, go bust, get bought out or provide poor support/performance, there is little you can do, other than start all over again.

At Farbyte our hosting is based on industry-standard services such as PHP, MySQL, Apache, etc. so you’re never locked into staying with us if you’re unhappy… but that should never be the case, as we strive to make sure you’re always happy!

We recommend that businesses use industry-standard, open-source solutions for their website systems that are based on & compatible with the following:

  1. PHP (internet's leading scripting language)

  2. MySQL (Database)

  3. Apache (Web server)

  4. Linux (Operating System)

Some examples are of web software are:

  1. WordPress (CMS, eCommerce, etc.)

  2. Joomla (CMS)

  3. Drupal (CMS, eCommerce, framework)

  4. Magento (eCommerce)

  5. OpenCart (eCommerce)

  6. Symfony (PHP framework)

  7. Laravel (PHP framework)

The above is just a small selection of software that can be used on Farbyte’s industry-standard, non-proprietary hosting service & all can be hosted on any standard hosting LAMP (Linux, Apache, MySQL, PHP) service.

We even offer specialised WordPress hosting, that automatically updates your website, takes backups, uses high-performance server caching & much more!

Support

A service providers support is something you hope you'll never need, but invariably will at some point.

A good support system should include at minimum the following ways to contact them:

  1. Email

  2. Support ticket

A support ticket system is preferred, as it’s more secure than others.

We don’t recommend phone support as it’s time consuming, difficult to audit & keep secure.

It's essential that staff know what they're doing.

Having experienced support staff available when you need them is something that we excel in at Farbyte.

Farbyte’s support staff are experts in the industry, with many years my experience behind them providing support via our email, ticket & live chat service throughout the day.

Price

Finally, we come to the item that many customers seem to focus on first… price!

Although we all want value for money & to pay as little as possible for something, we believe price should only be considered after you’ve ensured that a hosting provider satisfies your requirements for reliability/availability, performance, compatibility & support.

At this point, you should have a shortlist of suitable hosting providers & you can then sort them by price.

Hopefully, with Farbyte being at the top of the list!

Shared vs Virtual Private Server (VPS)

This really depends on the following criteria:

  1. Do you realistically expect huge amounts of visitor traffic?

  2. Do you have specific web/email server configuration requirements that aren’t found on a shared hosting service? (i.e. modules, scripting languages, etc.)

  3. Do you want to run other none web & email related services (i.e. PBX, custom apps, etc.)?

  4. Do you have a need for dedicated resources from a performance or security perspective?

If you answer ‘yes’ to any of the above, you should probably consider getting a VPS, otherwise, a shared hosting service should be fine.

If you’re not sure which would be best for you, try talking to your preferred hosting provider to find out what they suggest.

If you don’t have the skills or time to administer the server yourself, you should go for a managed VPS, where most of the admin work is done for you.

With regards to both shared hosting & VPS there are some common features you should also consider:

  • Internet Bandwidth / Transfer - this is normally the amount of data your service provider allocates to your account in terms of how much internet network data your website, email, FTP, etc. can consume in a month.

  • Disk Storage / Space - usually allocated in Gigabytes (GB). This is the amount of persistent/permanent data you can store on the service providers infrastructure. This is used by your web files, emails, databases, etc.

  • Uptime - normally a percentage figure (e.g. 99.9%) specifying the minimum percentage of a month the service will be available.