To say that web hosting is big business would be an understatement. In 2020, the global web hosting market was valued at $75 billion, with projections of $267.1 billion in growth by 2028. Of course, not all web hosting companies are created equal. In fact, if you’ve owned a business website over the last few years, chances are it’s being hosted by a legacy hosting company.
Yet hosting technology has advanced at a breakneck pace and few of these legacy players were able to keep pace with their offerings—neglecting to integrate today’s best tools and capabilities. Most of the features they offer are woefully out-of-date—something they’d probably prefer you didn’t know. A few dishonorable mentions include GoDaddy, Hostgator, BlueHost and InMotion Hosting. So what should you expect from your hosting company?
Must-Haves from Your Hosting Company
Whether an SMB or large enterprise, you should expect nothing less than these key features. Without them, you’re simply not hosted optimally.
First and foremost, your website must be secure. Auto updates, backups and Web Application Firewall (WAF) protection are paramount to a secure website. Equally important, your WordPress site must be safe from malicious attacks. Today, that means protection on an application level—such as hiding WordPress version from your site’s HTML code by default if your site is hacked. The bottom line is prevention from common malware, bruteforce and other security issues.
- Redundancy/Automated Backups
According to the USGS, “Making backups of collected data is critically important in data management. Backups protect against human errors, hardware failure, virus attacks, power failure, and natural disasters. Backups can help save time and money if these failures occur.” With a backup tool, you can create backups and also restore older versions of your site—whether the whole site or just parts such as files , databases or emails. Cloud users have an additional layer of off-site protection, as they can restore from up to seven days back.
- SSL Management
It’s also critical that an SSL certificate be installed on your site. SSL stands for Secure Sockets Layer, and is a global standard for securing communication between the web browser and web server through encryption. SSL decreases the risk of sensitive information being stolen or tampered with. As of July 2018, Google started flagging and penalizing (in search rankings) websites that lacked SSL, so note that not having SSL is not only risky it can also harm your SEO. To obtain an SSL certificate you can either have one installed on your site. Or if you’re using one of the better hosting providers, they’ll usually offer a free certificate for every new site created on their platform.
- Usage Stats
What is your CPU usage at any given time? Is it too high and causing poor performance? Are you running too many applications simultaneously? Central Processing Unit (CPU) statistics should be readily available so you can check it per hour, day, week or month, and make adjustments as needed for better site performance
- Staging Workflows
If you’re testing new coding techniques or launching a new or updated website, a staging workflow tool lets you build and test on a mirror image of a live website—while mitigating risk of disrupting your current WordPress site. The staging environment is typically hosted on a private subdomain of your WordPress site
Caching is defined as the process of storing specific data (usually the larger file size elements like images, graphics, video, etc.) at multiple places along the data supply chain thus not requiring requests for that data go all the way back to the point of origin (usually the website database) to retrieve it. Its benefits include faster response times and the ability to serve data quickly and consistently (i.e. webpages load in the browser more quickly), as well as an overall reduction in server resource usage.
- SSH Access
Secure Shell—SSH for short—is a network communication protocol, and is the generally accepted standard for securely accessing a server. While legacy hosting providers are often limited to SFTP, better, modern hosting providers offer the creation and management of SSH connections, as well as a log of those connections. The benefits of SSH all boil down to data security. In short, SSH is vastly more secure, as all data being transferred is encrypted, and requires user authentication to prevent unauthorized users (read hackers) from accessing the server.
Top Hosting Companies
Good news! Today, it’s easier than ever to migrate your website, especially with advanced tools offered by the best of the new generation hosting companies.
SiteGround—#1 Best All-Around Hosting Company in 2022
SiteGround offers hosting services in several data center locations around the world—including web hosting, WordPress hosting, WooCommerce hosting, cloud hosting, and reseller hosting. Its platform is recommended by WordPress.org and trusted by owners of over 2,800,000 domains. Their mix of features, combined with the best support and value in the industry, put them at the top of our list.
Kinsta works with 24,800+ companies, offering premium managed hosting with top performance and expert support. The company offers built-in application performance monitoring, industry-leading speeds by the fastest CPUs, and a global content delivery network for “blazing-fast” pages and cached assets. We appreciate their solutions and service, however, they come at a higher price.
WPEngine’s website boasts “a smarter way to WordPress—helping you achieve more with their fully managed WordPress platform and developer solutions trusted by 1M+ brands and agencies.” We think it’s the perfect fit for a company that wants to keep it simple—with very basic features and capabilities. Plus, they’re well priced for what they deliver.
Digital Ocean—Beyond WordPress
If you aren’t running WordPress but a bespoke platform or lesser known CMS, Digital Ocean is a good option for cloud computing services, with predictable pricing, robust documentation, and scalability to support your company’s growth at any stage.
Your website is your business lifeline. It must be secure and redundant with all the must-haves to ensure continual, disruption-free operation, 24/7. Fortunately, easy migration to a top provider can be fast, seamless and affordable—and that’s especially good for business.