Why your hosting service provider matters!

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Your hosting service provider matters more than you think, especially for the security of your site!

We’ve briefly talked about the three main types of hosting in the past, outlining their pros and cons. In our minds, dedicated hosting is the way to go! Pod Creative offers dedicated, managed, Canadian based hosting for your website at $30 CAD per month. Choosing the right kind of hosting is crucial, but even more important is choosing the right hosting provider! 

Hannah Raeside

Office Manager, Pod Creative

Quick hosting type recap

There are three main types of hosting: Shared, Dedicated, and Virtual Private Server hosting. Shared hosting is the most common type of hosting and is preferred by individuals and small businesses.  Shared hosting means many different sites, thousands, all on the same server (computer). This entry on Wikipedia gives more information on shared hosting. 

Dedicated hosting is just as it sounds, a single server hosting a single website.  Dedicated hosting is more expensive, but you’re getting a lot more for that money; all the resources of a single computer powering your website. This entry on Wikipedia gives more information on dedicated hosting. 

VPS hosting is more complex.  What you’re paying for is the cumulative resources of many computers networked together, acting as a single server.  One advantage to VPS is you can scale from small to large websites without the need to switch servers.  Typically VPS hosting rates are hourly rather than monthly. This entry on Wikipedia gives more information on VPS hosting.

Hosting and website load speed

The hosting provider you choose directly affects the speed at which your website loads, and it’s all due to the number of resources available to your site. If your site is hosted on a shared hosting platform, such as the entry-level offers from providers like HostPapa or GoDaddy, there are tens of thousands of sites stored on that server with you. That’s a lot of data for one computer to process! Your site is competing for the same resources as all the other sites on that server, which leads to slow load times.

PHP Values

PHP is an open-source, server-side, HTML embedded scripting language used to create dynamic web pages.

PHP pages have the extension .php. PHP can perform any task that any Common Gateway Interface (CGI) program can do, but its strength lies in its compatibility with many types of databases. Due to its global popularity, the vast majority of websites operate using PHP, as do website platforms, content management systems, themes, and much more. It’s incredibly important that the PHP values for your website are updated to the latest release, as many, many programs utilize the coding to properly run. Take WordPress for example. WordPress relies on PHP to function properly. If your website’s PHP is out of date WordPress will not function correctly and may begin timing out or producing 500 errors when attempting to access the site. If your website’s PHP is critically out of date there will be little, if anything, you are able to do or access on the site until the PHP is updated.  

Rocketship speeding up WordPress

So why are we bringing this up? Over the past few years, we have come across a few clients who are hosted with third-party service providers who’ve found their websites shut down due to PHP incompatibility. The most troubling thing however with non-updated PHP values is the increased vulnerability to malware and hacking. Out-of-date PHP values, WordPress versions, plugins, and themes can provide hackers and virus-makers access to your site to plant malware or take over entirely due to ineffective security.

Even if your PHP values aren’t critically out of date (being a version or two behind the current PHP version) it may still cause your site to behave unexpectedly. For example, Divi by Elegant Themes (our preferred theme) will not work if a website’s PHP value is lower than 7.2. At the time of this article (September 2020), the current PHP version is 7.4, with the expected release of PHP 8 on November 26, 2020.

Despite their importance, PHP values must be manually updated on the CPanel of your website and are often forgotten aspects of website maintenance. Shared hosting services do not offer website maintenance packages, keeping prices low, and putting the onus of updating everything onto the website owner.

Reminder!

Update your WordPress core and your PHP values! The current WordPress is 5.5, and Divi will not operate on a website lower than WordPress 5.2. 

The dark side of Shared Hosting

Let’s talk a little bit about the downside of shared hosting. Sure, there are some perks to using shared hosting, such as extremely low-cost options and the potential for domains included in the monthly cost. However, in our opinion, the cons of shared hosting vastly out-weigh the pros. The largest con to shared hosting is the constant potential security threat. Because so many websites are hosted on the same server, all it takes is for one site to be compromised by malware or hacking for all other sites on the server to be potentially compromised. It’s a pretty scary thought!

Over the years we’ve rescued quite a few sites from situations identical to this. Not only is website recovery time consuming, but it can also be costly! Shared Hosting companies’ customer service is often limited and costly, it can be upwards of $100 to have them remove a piece of malware from your site. Website recovery, updating, malware removal, and more is left up to the customer.

Another large con to Shared Hosting is limited resources. Tens of thousands of websites vie for the same limited amount of resources available to that server. If something goes wrong,  for example, one site malfunctions or is a victim to a brute force attack, they can drain the resources away from all other sites leaving no computing power and producing 500 errors. This can be very frustrating and is often referred to as the resource black hole – one website “sucks” up all the resources in a black hole type spiral. Unfortunately, there isn’t much that can be done until the problem is fixed.

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Choose your hosting service provider wisely! If you use a shared hosting service provider, such as GoDaddy, HostPapa, HostGator, etc, and experience website issues, you might want to get in touch with us. While Shared Hosting may work for low traffic, personal sites, we recommend against using shared hosting for a business or an important personal site! If you choose Shared Hosting make sure you keep your website updated, including the PHP values. They are critical coding for the functionality of your site, and need to be kept up to date! All updates, security checks, backups, and more are left up to the website owner with Shared Hosting.

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