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The High Cost of Cheap Web Hosting

By August 22, 2016Web Development

Premium web hosting seems expensive until you need it. Why pay for something that cheap hosting services practically give away?

I can tell you why.

It was a marketer’s worst nightmare, or close to it.

One morning two years ago, I got to my desk, opened the website of the company where I worked, and it was gone.

Completely gone.

I reloaded and reloaded. No luck. I used different browsers, hoping it might be a glitch in the Chrome. Nope. Everything was gone. Even worse, no one knew what to do.

The site had been built by a well-meaning volunteer in our IT department. Unfortunately, he was no longer with the company. The IT team not only didn’t know what to do, they didn’t know where to start. No one even knew where the site had been hosted.

Eventually, we were able to find out where the site had been hosted. It was a cut-rate hosting service and no one had any login credentials. The company could not be reached in person. It wouldn’t have mattered, however, because no one would be able to give the security information needed to reset credentials.

This was my first experience of the high cost of cheap web hosting. Some 30,000 websites are hacked every day, according to Sophos. Many companies don’t think they will be targeted because they don’t offer ecommerce and don’t have sensitive customer information. It really doesn’t matter, I’ve since learned. Hackers don’t always hack to for financial gain. They hack because they can.

We spent countless hours trying to restore the site, to no avail. For two weeks, at least three people worked full time to rebuild it. We had to re-install WordPress and all themes and plugins, gather all of the images that had been used, recreate the exact URL structure so that all the links we had published aren’t broken, and of course, recreate the content. To do this, I used the Word files that had been used to draft the new content (I had only been with the company for about one year), though much had been modified after it was posted. I used the Wayback Machine to recreate as much as I could. I  had to re-do the SEO on every page. We also needed to hire a graphic designer to recreate as much of the graphics as we could.

We had scores of customers, partners, and employees around the country calling and emailing us, asking what was wrong and if we were still in business. Creditors called to demand payment. Competitors sent links to our site to customers, we found out later, to sew seeds of doubt in their minds about our viability.

The VP of sales at the company estimated that restoring the website cost $40,000 in employee time and in outside resources. That doesn’t count the hit to customer and employee confidence we took.

We immediately upgraded our hosting to a premium service.

Our agency recommends premium hosting for our clients because of the dramatic security, performance, and service benefits it delivers. Proactive security beats reactive security by far. Firewall quality, monitoring for malware or unauthorized attempts at access, one-click backup and restore, staging servers, and live 24-hour support are some of the benefits we prize. Maybe you pay $30-$50 per month instead of $3.99. Unless you have time to proactively scan your website every day, update malware prevention software, perform backups, make sure your CMS, themes, and plugins are all up to date and that the latest versions are compatible with one another, it’s well worth it to pay someone to do it all.

If your website is important to your business, premium hosting is a great investment. If your website is your business, it is even more important to make sure you have the best security, performance, and support you can find.

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