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If you’re building for the future, now is the time to start
This is the first in a series of articles getting ready for 2024. Despite what many believe and the news about recessions or downturns, businesses have increased their spending on software and marketing since last year. The industry we target is set to experience remarkable growth towards a noteworthy benchmark. Public availability of Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML) is giving many smaller companies insight into what they can do to have a competitive edge and stand tall among giants.
When it comes to building and even expanding or optimizing an online presence, hosting is the foundation. The best framework, the most intriguing content, and the best strategies will fall apart if web hosting is not consistent, safe, and dependable. On top of that, even some capable web hosts and web hosting companies can keep you guessing when it comes to budgeting and cost.
After trying several webhosts over the years, being disappointed, overpaying, even underpaying, and losing money from failures, I can honestly deliver my pick for web hosting provider, hopefully forever.
Why Cloudways stands out in the world of web hosting
Back in my early, inexperienced, “Never WordPress” days, I used a basic host with cPanel and Apache where I could serve my flat file websites for not a lot of money. I had heard of other agencies with huge hosting bills and I couldn’t even imagine paying that for a website! I even became an affiliate for that company and basically sold it to offset my own hosting bill. I had never had my code or equipment tested before. It wasn’t until I saw why businesses used WordPress and started to work with lead generation partners that I finally understood the importance of good web hosting and how hard it was to find it, no matter how much one was willing to pay.
One of the agency partners I worked with used one of the first hosting companies to offer Virtual Private Servers (VPS) alongside Shared Enterprise offerings. In the early days of “The Cloud”, they were great. They are still decent, but they have scaled a great deal and it is sometimes difficult to get fast support, especially with scaling and security concerns.
The other partner went with a company who will still build metal servers to spec for enterprise applications. It felt like we were constantly underpaying though. When the lead gen was working at half capacity, we would fall over. Increasing capacity was a day at best to add on more hardware. Underpaying turned into overpaying real fast.
I attributed this to Management not agreeing on a budget for hardware. While they were both on opposite ends of almost every decision-making process, they knew what they were doing. I was the one exercising hubris. So when I gave this web hosting company another try, I gave them a generous budget. I wanted to pay too much this time. This big project was going to fly with fuel to spare.
They came back with a very reasonable number. Right before launch, I asked them to add on more hardware just to be sure. On launch day, I ruined a beloved statewide past-time. More on that in another article. Stay tuned.
At that point, I had been using Cloudways for small and medium projects. For some reason, I wasn’t confident in their ability to deliver on this project. Looking back, I’m not sure I understand why I felt that way. I often say “There’s no substitute for experience”, and I’ve always loved the position and sentiment “We can only go up from here”. On the third week, I set up a load balancer between the dedicated host and a new instance on Cloudways. Cloudways grabbed all the traffic, delivered faster, stayed up all night.
Web hosting pricing can be tricky, it’s so nice when it’s not
Cloudways has something called Real-Time billing. Most will be able to sign up for Cloudways for the price they have on the configurator and stay there forever. Their bill will fluctuate based on how many days there are in the month, but that just means a slight discount in February and June, in most cases.
The layout of these pages changes sometimes, but this is what it looks like and these are my favorite settings to start out (before we go live):
On top of this, I recommend backups ($0.50 per server), Cloudflare Enterprise (varies, but is around 10% of what I paid on its own), and SafeUpdates (about $3 per URL).
Real-time Billing what you’ve spent and what is forecasted if you change nothing. This was handy when I was scaling down that big project after event nights. It helped me to see if it was worth scaling down on certain weeks at all and thus saved me time. Monitoring shows how much of the CPU is being used and makes suggestions for scaling up when using more that 90% consistently. With the Flexible plans, it’s easy to scale up, but scaling back down requires creating a new server and migrating the application over. This has never taken more than an hour and a half and the Migration staff will often help out when I’ve been crunched.
I’ll talk about Autoscale another time, but I will say that most people using a Kubernetes stack or similar will find it useful and easy.
Web hosting should play nice with SSL providers
I hate letting people down, and I hate charging for things that are simple, should be automated, but take time. Such was my life when I didn’t insist my clients use Cloudways for web hosting.
As easy as it is to get an SSL certificate for baseline security from LetsEncrypt, there are web hosts that don’t allow it. The lowest cost Apache host will allow Let’s Encrypt auto renew SSL certificates, it’s built into cPanel most places, and yet there is one hosting company who will not allow it. So a hosting company who would spend millions on advertising and other business expenses related to their advertising wants to, what could it be, sell you an overpriced SSL they resell on their dashboard? Sure they charge for domain privacy when it should be free, but really?
Suffice it to say, SSL certificates are free, easy to install, and renew automatically on Cloudways.
Web hosting companies get business from referrals and affiliates
And I am one of those affiliates, and only for Cloudways.
That means that I will be including a link for a special offer from Cloudways in this post. It DOES NOT MEANT that I can be bought. Cloudways does not pay the most for affiliate marketing. I do not have the patience to do Affiliate Marketing for profit. BUT, I will take credit for helping others make the best web hosting decision they can make to build some great stuff without headaches.
So this Black Friday slash Cyber Monday, when you’re buying all your other software and services for 2024, because we all better start on 2024 ASAP, enjoy an amazing deal so you can enjoy amazing service and performance.
And Cloudways will give you a significant amount of money off and do a ton of your work (if you are migrating anything).
Web hosting that works, performs, and improves for you
Start with a good foundation, use a web hosting service that performs. Don’t wait to put them to the test either. Even if you’re pretty good at migration and setting up servers, ask their support to do it. Or take take your time, it’s not like you need to sign a contract or anything.
My hope is that there are web developers entering the space today who will never know the pain we used to have to endure to set up and maintain web hosting.