Life is rarely perfect. You already know while Shangri La is a great idea, it just doesn't exist. You learn to make do with living in the next best option, San Francisco. The spring of water gushing up to eternal life, not to be found. Will Diet Coke do? If you are shopping for a web hosting company and seek perfection, you may have to lower your standards a bit and compromise to “pretty good hosting”. In such matters, as always, the issues boil down to this matrix: 1> Price 2> Quality/Speed 3> Service/Support
You can have at most two out of three. Of course, if you are not careful, even one out three may not happen. If you are richer than Croesus(or are Amazon.com), you can safely discount the “Price” factor and focus on Quality and Service. Chances are that you are trying to have to make some difficult decisions, based on your affordability, the kind of visitors you are likely to have, and the complexity of your website.
The web hosting companies, despite what they may tell you have similar costs. The servers, routers, and bandwidth cost essentially the same. While some may have savings on hardware and infrastructure due to economies of scale, they have a high sunk cost in coming up with the infrastructure. Therefore they pass those costs to you, bringing them to par with smaller shops without the soccer field size room of rackspace humming with PCs.
So why are some cheaper than others? Let's go back to the matrix. More likely than not, the hosting is putting way too many sites on each server trying to recoup their costs a bit at a time. If you have an informational, text heavy site about the Inuit community in Congo, this solution may actually be fine. You don't get too many visitors in the first place, and the few who do, will put up with a slower loading site. They don't have much choice a google search of “Inuit community in congo”” shows just about 20 hits. These visitors will stick around and read your fine article.
However, really there isn't much money in writing about “Inuit community in congo” and understandably most people create websites to make money. Let's consider a different term “tickets”. Here we are talking 850 Million hits. Lots of people want to sell tickets and the visitor has a lot of choices. A vast choice encourages “impatient visitor”–ff your site is too slow to load up, they will happily cruise to the next site. A slow site could be because the site owner chose the cheapest possible hosting company with little regard to speed. Given the steps most website owners go through to bring visitors to their site, I am shocked by the number of owners willing to pay 5,000 dollar per month for PPC, but not willing to cough up an extra 50 dollar for fast hosting. These penny wise site owners have an enormous number of bounce back visitors. They often wonder why Google is charging them for PPC clicks, but their web statistics don't show any corresponding visitors. Little do they know, that visitor got tired of waiting for the site to load up on your slow server and has happily paid more to a competitor to buy that concert ticket.
We have discussed price versus quality what about service? If you are running a single site, with few expected visitors and no marketing costs, you can comfortably choose an inexpensive alternative. However, if you are running a serious business and suddenly are faced by a DNS foul up, you wouldn't want to wait for the weekend to be over and 9:00 AM PST to stroke before someone can handle your request. Things need to happen and right away too!
It's a complex world no Shangri La's here. It helps to know the issues, and what your business needs are before choosing the web hosting solution that is best for you.
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