There comes a time in your life that you eventually outgrow things that were once a perfect fit. What you loved as a teenager or child might be something you don’t ever even think about anymore now.
Web hosting is similar. A website in the beginning, when it is first created, might be small and require less data and resources, and has fewer daily visitors. An inexpensive shared hosting plan might be all you need to run your website effectively. However, as it goes, that shared hosting plan that was once a perfect fit is no longer adequately doing its job, and your website is suffering.
Here are a few questions you should ask yourself to understand if the web hosting plan you have is right for you, or if you have outgrown it.
1. What are your site load times?
Load speed is one of the first things you should look at it. There are various sites out there that help you to measure your page load speeds. Monitoring the page loading speeds is essential, because how fast your page load will determine how good of an experience your visitor will have. In fact, studies have shown that about 10% of visitors will bounce off your page if it takes two seconds to load. Those bounce numbers dramatically increase if they are on a mobile phone.
It has become evident that one thing that your visitors want is fast page loading speeds. With tons of content on the internet, they won’t wait around for yours. Even Google places importance on speed and has stated explicitly that site speed is one of the many variables that it measures in its overall search algorithm. While it's unclear how much of a factor site speed has on the algorithm, it is worth noting that it is measured.
However, a slow website is not always caused by the web host that you have chosen. There are often many different factors, including design errors that are weighing down your website. Usually, an experienced web designer will have to help you clean up the code of your website if you don’t have the necessary experience yourself.
2. Who are your neighbors?
Noisy neighbors can affect you and can cause your website to slow down. While a web host won’t ever admit that noisy neighbors are a problem, the fact is that when you are paying only a few dollars a month for resources to host your website, it means you are going to have neighbors. Noisy neighbors are the ones who are using more than their fair share of resources and are harming the performance of the server because there aren’t enough resources to go around for everyone else.
3. What is your performance like during peak times?
When you are hosting your site through a shared host, and you have a popular and busy site, you might have noticed that it is performing sluggishly during peak times. Especially if you have an e-commerce site, your shopping cart alone might use more RAM than your shared server plan can handle. Because a shared hosting site aims to serve the needs of many, it can’t often deliver all the CPU, RAM, and other resources that you need. Because of the slowed-down performance, your visitors might get annoyed, abandon their carts, which then costs you in lost sales.
By choosing a plan like a VPS, you can scale up and down as you need it to. While it might be more monthly costs, it does give you more processing power, memory, and other resources to help run your website.
4. What is the IP’s reputation?
The activity that the host and server do can also affect you and your website. For example, if the server is detected hosting malware or sending spam, it could affect you in a variety of ways, including email deliverability and your search ranking. You should be monitoring your server’s IP reputation to make sure that the IP has not been blacklisted.
One of the ways that an IP can get blacklisted is that other neighbors can be running insecure applications or software that hasn’t been updated. While there is no malicious intent on their part, it still means that the IP gets blacklisted because of a lack of understanding.
Bad actors tend to hack out-of-date software because it is easier to exploit. Be proactive on your website and make sure that you keep your software, plug-ins, and themes updated to make sure your site stays as secure as possible.
5. What type of software is allowed?
The last question you should ask yourself is if non-standard software is allowed because sometimes you might need to run software that won’t be supported on your shared hosting plan. Perhaps your host only offers the standard host that is a bit slower than some of the alternatives out there. Or the shopping cart software you want to use needs the latest version of PHP, but your host doesn’t support this version yet. While there might not be anything wrong with these slower versions, it might be a sign that you should upgrade if you find your hosting environment is holding you back.
Luckily, there are tons of options available for web hosting. While your reasons for wanting to switch may vary, take a look at these questions to decide if it is time to get a new hosting plan.