Does it matter who is hosting your website? Does it really make a difference, or are all hosting companies the same?
Like cell phone companies, hosting companies may look identical on the surface, but the performance and services of each vary wildly. If you've never had good service, you wouldn't know what is bad service is, and the same is true of hosting.
Website hosting happens behind the scenes, but that's exactly why it's so important - your website needs to be available and function correctly all the time, without lots of effort on your end. If your website exists to bring clients to your business, then having a website that isn't reliable is like having a front door that randomly locks itself during business hours.
Not only does your website needs to be available at all times, but it needs to load quickly and render properly so your visitor can see the information as it was meant to be seen.
How would your website look if none of the images loaded, or if everything was misaligned? Would your website still be usable? How long will a visitor wait on your site to load before they give up and move on to the next site in their Google search results?
Hosting factors that can affect your website speed and performance:
The hardware (type of server) your website is being hosted on. Is it a high-performance server with enough processors/cores, enough memory, and hard disk/data transfer capacity that moves quickly enough to handle the number of sites it hosts?
The software being used to run your site. We're not talking Windows versus Linux here, but rather the configuration of the web hosting software components. Basically, does the hosting company know how to set up its hosting environments to most efficiently use the server resources to serve up your website quickly? Is your website segregated from other sites on the same server? If another website you're sharing a server with goes down, will it take your site down along with it?
The internal network of the hosting company. If the hosting company knows what they're doing, then their own internal network configuration will not cause slowdowns for your website before it even gets out to the Internet. Poorly configured routers, switches, and cabling setups can affect your website before it even makes it out of the gate.
The hosting company's Internet connection to the rest of the world. This is about having enough bandwidth to handle the network traffic coming into and out of the hosting provider's network. If the traffic requirements for your site and/or other sites on their servers exceed that available connection (bandwidth), then everything slows down.
Each of these things can directly affect how quickly and reliably your website loads. While there are still items outside of your hosting provider's control, the company hosting your website is responsible for delivering a good product - the availability and proper function of your website.
Here are some other questions to ask your hosting provider:
What about backups? Ask your hosting company if they're backing up your data, and how regularly they're doing so. The better hosting companies will either provide you with a method of creating your own backups, or will automatically back up your site data for you.
What are they doing to keep hackers out of your website? Does your website or hosting server sit behind a firewall? Is it a software or hardware firewall? Hosting behind a hardware firewall will usually cost you more, but at the very least your server should have some type of firewall keeping an eye out for intrusion attempts and actively blocking them.
Many website owners get caught up in their site load speed, but don't forget to ask the other questions that matter too. Having a fast website doesn't mean much if all of your hard work and code get deleted by some hacker just looking to have a good time.
Having trouble with your website? Let us take a look for you!
In addition to errors and load time, we'll analyze how effective your website is at attracting visitors and turning them in to customers.