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Most reviews on web hosting plans are written by technical experts for technical experts. My discussion today is from the point of view of a marketer. I believe today’s discussion will provide a different angle to this topic.
Generally there are 4 types of web hosting plans to choose from, namely shared hosting, reseller hosting, VPS hosting and dedicated hosting. If you are new, you can see the pricing and detailed descriptions here.
If you are a server expert or you are planning to start your own webhosting service, this article is not for you. But if you are an internet marketer, looking for a web hosting plan that meets your needs, I’m sure my experience in web hosting will help you.
So, which web hosting plan should you choose?
Cheap is better
When it comes to hosting, paying more doesn’t mean you get more. In fact, it’s the reverse. Let me explain.
The cheapest plan is called shared hosting, which usually cost you less than 10 bucks a month. As the name suggests, shared hosting means you are sharing a server with probably hundreds of other users. Because of this, the hosting company has huge liability in these shared servers. It cannot afford to have these servers fail or it will affect hundreds of their clients. As a result, they do regular server updates, backups, maintenance and they provide 24/7 uptime monitoring.
But if you go for other more expensive hosting plans, the servers usually have lesser users and as a result, those servers receive lesser attention from the hosting company. (Most companies will deny this, but that is the truth.)
Take the most expensive plan, dedicated hosting, as an example. Most hosting companies will not monitor the uptime of such servers. Also, they will do lesser system maintenance and updates. Reason? Because you own the whole server and are responsible for the maintenance yourself!
In addition to this, most shared hosting plan offers unlimited disk space and unlimited bandwidth. Yet, almost all other more expensive hosting plans have limits on disk space and bandwidth. If you are using one of those more expensive hosting plans, you have to worry about your disk and bandwidth usage.
Think about it this way. By paying more, you get limited disk space, limited bandwidth and lesser server maintenance. This is what’s happening when you pay more for your web host.
Of course, there are limitations to shared hosting. But that is when you become a heavy user.
As a rule of thumb, if you are simply running niche websites for Adsense or affiliate commissions, shared hosting should be your best choice…… until you max out your shared server.
How to max out your server?
So far, the message I’m trying to put across is get a cheap shared hosting plan because you get the best server support compared to all other hosting plans. But that is assuming you are just a small-time marketer (most people are).
If you are a big-time marketer or going to be a big-time marketer, things may be a little different.
Below are ways in which you can max out the capacity of a shared hosting server.
1) Mass Mailing
One of the most taxing activities in a server is mass mailing. If you are intending to build a list and send out mass email through your own server, chances are, you can’t live with a shared hosting plan, not even a reseller or VPS plan.
Most shared hosting has a limit of 500 emails per hour. This means if you were to mail to a list of say 5000 people, it will take you 10 hours.
If you are using hosted autoresponder services like Aweber, this will not be a concern since emails are sent through Aweber’s server, not yours.
2) Product Launch
If you are planning a big product launch, there is a high chance that you will max out the server bandwidth.
“Kenneth, I thought shared hosting has got unlimited bandwidth?”
Yes, that’s a lie.
Imagine bandwidth as a pail of water. When you are promised with unlimited bandwidth, what it means is you have an infinitely huge water pail, full of water of course. The catch here is water must flow out from a tap. For shared hosting, you’ve got a small water tap. So if there is a sudden surge of traffic to your server, this small water tap may not be enough to cater to that surge. The result is you get very sluggish web loading speed and occasional disconnectivity issues.
3) Video Hosting
If your server hosts a lot of videos and a lot of people are watching it, you will run into the same bandwidth issue, as explained in #2.
Basically, any activity that involves huge data transfer to and from the server will tax on the bandwidth and create potential bandwidth issue.
4) Hosting Too Many Domains
Did I mention that most shared hosting plans allow you to host unlimited domains? Well, that’s another lie.
Yes, theoretically you can host unlimited domains. But in reality, each domain has files in it and there is a limit to the number of files you can host on your cheap server.
In hostgator, it is termed ‘inode’. Your maximum allowable inode is 250,000. But if you have more than 100,000 inodes, hostgator will stop backing up your files. So to get the best, you should limit your usage to 100,000 inodes.
Now, how is inode calculated?
Very simply, it is the number of files in your server. This means regardless of how many domains you have, you should keep the number of uploaded files below 100,000.
That may sound a lot, but guess what, I maxed that out once! That’s why I know this limitation.
Let me show you how easy it is for an average marketer to max out the inode limit.
Do you know that Wordpress script itself contains more than 700 files? If you install Wordpress to every domain and you have 150 domains, that will make up 105,000 files (or inodes). And I haven’t considered other possible scripts that you may be adding to your domains.
The good news is if this is your only issue, the solution is simple. Just get another cheap and good shared hosting account and you can load another 100 or so domains.
5) Excessive Concurrent Server Usage
If you run online services that require a lot of concurrent script processes or database activities, such as an online forum, or social networking site, you are likely to max out the apache and mysql process limit during the peak hours.
Take hostgator for example, the limit is 25 at any one time. So technically if you have 30 people making a system enquiry at the same time, 5 of them will get an error message. The chance is extremely low, but if your website has a lot of users, it can be possible.
These limits can be raised if you are on dedicated or VPS hosting, not if you use shared hosting and reseller hosting.
Just get yourself a shared hosting account, unless you have no better use for your money or you foresee that you are going to run into one of the five issues above.
When it comes to low-cost hosting, all the hosting providers offer more or less the same thing. If anyone claims to offer more, say it claims that you can send unlimited emails with a shared hosting plan, it just shows that the webhost is an amateur and will run into problem in the future, potentially a server crash!
The key is to get one that is well established (i.e. it has gone through enough server nonsense and implemented the necessary steps to ensure system stability). It must also provide 24/7 chat and telephone support, so that you can get help at any instant.