There are a lot of web hosting companies out there and when it’s about your website, who can you trust? We build WordPress websites for firms in the law industry and it’s critical that the website’s security is maintained and taken care of.
What is web hosting?
There are a few elements that make up a website: domain name and hosting.
Your domain name is registered and purchased through a domain registrar, like GoDaddy or NameCheap. It’s where your domain (or URL) lives.
Your website hosting provider, however, is where your actual website lives. The hosting provider hosts all of the code that makes your website look the way it does, and houses the information associated with the website. This is the analogy that can help tie it all together: if your website is a house, a domain is like a home address guiding a visitor to a specific location. The land under the house is the web hosting provider.
Types of web hosting:
- Shared – many websites reside on one web server
- Dedicated – you lease an entire server, not shared with anyone else and can allow for full software customization
- VPS (Virtual Private Server) – it’s hybrid between shared hosting and dedicated hosting, the actual physical server is shared but running its own copy of an operating system
Shared hosting is the most cost effective solution, and generally the best option for small to medium-sized law firms. Dedicated hosting can start at $450.00 per month and is overkill for most law firms. It can cause peace of mind if you believe you are high risk in any way.
Many web hosting companies promise to keep your website safe, but what are they really doing? Up until last year (2018), my firm provided web hosting for our clients. I definitely have some insight into web hosting companies and who we trust. Veritas Web Design decided to get out of the web hosting business because we were frustrated with how the company’s policy was around a few things:
- SSL Certificates – This is a certificate that can be added to a website and it will encrypt any data that is submitted through a form. Google has cracked down and has started throwing “Not Secure” warnings on website without an SSL certificate. Google also said they will rank websites lower in searches if they don’t have an SSL Certificate. This web hosting company wanted to charge us $80/year for each SSL for our 32 client websites. This is completely unacceptable when you can use a free SSL such as Let’s Encrypt. Let’s Encrypt lets you get the job done without spending all that money.
- Security – My web hosting company would at a moment’s notice shut down a website if they thought anything remotely bad was happening (it was hacked, etc). Two separate websites were shut down! Each time my clients were shut down, we discovered they weren’t hacked, but had a lot of processes going on in the website. The processes were causing a false positive to flag the web hosting company to think it was hacked. This was bad for our business and caused me to lose a client once!
- Customer Service – Most of the time I would try and chat with the web hosting company, but would have to wait 20-30 minutes during the day. At night I would be able to get better support but it was hit and miss. I found my conversations with tech support varied from person to person. Many times it was inconsistent.
I spent a little time doing some research to see if we would continue to offer web hosting through a different partner. The bottom line was we could continue offering web hosting. The problem is we would have to raise the rate 400% to get the type of service we wanted.
Instead, we decided to get out of the web hosting business and migrate our clients (all 32 of them) to Site Ground.
Why do we like Site Ground?
- They offer a free SSL (Let’s Encrypt) and it’s easy to install
- Their customer service was excellent, very little wait time to chat and it’s easy to call them as well.
- They really believe in security —they are constantly tweaking and improving WordPress-related vulnerabilities and patching against exploits. They also do daily backups, you can’t beat that!
- SiteGround’s shared web hosting costs between $3.95 – $11.95/mo and a shared web hosting plan works for most of our customers.
Bottom line is do your research when it comes to finding your web hosting provider. Ask your web designer and other colleagues who they recommend. Be sure to do homework on the security of the host and how they are with customer service. Don’t be afraid to call them and see how long the wait time is and how they treat you.