Matching Your Server to Your Budget — How to Plan for Success and Know When to Scale
Life as an entrepreneur, much like being a parent, can be stressful. There’re the late nights and early mornings, along with the frequent fear and stress that you’re doing it all wrong. But with the right nurturing and resources, your child — er, business — will grow big and strong.
For your son or daughter, that means healthy meals, comfy clothes, rigorous education, and lots of physical activity. For your company to mature, however, you’re looking at determination, hard work, marketing, networking, hustling, fiscal responsibility, and the technology resources to make it all possible.
Even if you’re not embarking on the next best tech startup venture in Silicon Valley, your new organization needs to be online to get seen. More than 60% of consumers expect brands to publish content online in some form, with twice as many people preferring to go directly to an organization’s website instead of its social media presence.
Fortunately, you don’t need to know how to code or configure a server to get started. Starting with our top-rated domain name registrations and hosting, iPage will help set up your first site with a drag-and-drop site builder or optimized and streamlined WordPress hosting.
From there, however, your site and business may grow in fits and spurts. The more consumers your website attracts to your business, the more resources you’ll need to continue supporting the website. Scaling to larger servers, however, can be cost-prohibitive to an unsteady young business. Here are a few steps to consider when gauging when to make the move.
Take Stock of Your Current Needs and Growth Rate
When your child is just learning to walk, you don’t put them on a maxed-out treadmill, right? The same applies to shopping for web hosting.
Take a realistic inventory of your company’s online requirements and what you can reasonably expect in the next three years or so. Compare that with your annual budget to see what hosting solutions seem to make the most sense.
In addition to the rate traffic you expect to see each month, spend some time thinking whether you have any nuanced technology decisions to make. Perhaps you’re better equipped to work with one content management system or eCommerce platform over another. This could inform which operating system or computing resources you may need. You’ll need to balance having ample processing power and storage space with the idea of what you’ll actually consume.
You may not have an opinion on how many CPU cores you’ll need, or if you’ll want to use storage powered by solid-state or hard-disk drives — and that’s OK. But work to understand how those components contribute to your overall hosting expenses. For example, Linux hosting is based on a free and open-source operating system, while Windows Server licenses can get rather expensive for your provider. Similarly, SSDs are inherently faster and more reliable than HDDs — but they can cost quite a bit more and typically have smaller storage capacities.
Determine How Much Time You Want to Spend on Server Management
Your business will likely start on a shared hosting plan while you establish your branding, product portfolio, and customer base. As you gain traction in the marketplace, however, you could outgrow the constraints of a shared environment and need to seek more secure, stable, and powerful servers. VPS hosting, which stands for virtual private servers, represents a safe middle ground between the crowded chaos of shared hosting and the high-priced realm of dedicated servers.
However, with great power comes great responsibility… at least, usually. While hosting providers will take care of the shared server infrastructure powering thousands of customers at once, the dedicated computing resources associated with your virtual environment will typically fall under your purview. Some of the server management tasks you may be responsible for include:
- Software and operating system updates
- Security patches
- Daily or weekly backups
- System uptime monitoring
- Antivirus protection and malware scans
As you step up the hosting ladder, however, providers typically roll out more support and services geared toward treating you like royalty. Your host may cover many of these tedious processes, but the managed services label can be applied many different ways. You’ll definitely want to pay attention to the fine print here to see what’s included.
All that said, server management is a place where you can stretch your budget a bit. By investing some time and patience, you can absolutely manage your VPS, cloud environment, or dedicated server to save a few bucks — or, by investing in managed services, you can spend more time working on your business goals and less time on your infrastructure.
Leave Room for Server Upgrades and Customizations
More than 80% of consumers perform online research before making a purchase. In addition to browsing online rating sites and reading customer reviews, most folks will head straight to Google. Whether they search your organization’s name or keywords related to your products, you’ll want your business to show up at the top of the results.
Improving your site’s search engine optimization is a multi-faceted approach that covers everything from keyword research and code structure to loading speeds and security. You can always brush up on writing stronger online content and optimizing your image file sizes, but keep an eye out for performance-boosting features like load balancing, high-speed storage, a content delivery network, and caching tools. On the security front, SSL certificates are becoming increasingly more important to a site’s positioning in search results, as are DDoS protections, web application firewalls, and malware scanning and removal services.
Instead of always looking for the biggest and brightest hosting plans, a measured approach tailored to your company’s specific needs will foster steady growth. By scaling responsibly and methodically, your business should have the financial reserves to invest in technologies that will have the greatest impact on your website’s reliability and success.
Feature image: Pixabay
About the Author: Laura Bernheim shows first-time site owners and experienced developers how to explore new technologies and find better ways to work with established platforms. A professional journalist, she has contributed articles to The New York Times, Sports Illustrated, HostingAdvice.com, and several of the world’s top hosting providers.