Websites & Apps

Talk nerdy to me: Choosing the right hosting environment for your website

Decision time: Use an in-house server, pay a hosting service, or join the cloud? A Motum B2B tech nerd helps you weigh the options By Motum B2B Nov 28, 2018

Your company’s website is one of its most valuable sales tools. While your choice of website tech affects how your site looks and feels, your hosting choice affects the way it’s managed behind the scenes. To help you make the right decision, here’s a breakdown of the hosting options.

If you’re feeling a little lost in tech jargon, don’t worry — we’ve got you covered with definitions along the way. Feel free to skip these if you’re already in the know.

What the heck is: Website hosting?

Web hosting gives your site a place to live! Your website’s data is stored or hosted on a physical server. When someone visits your website, their computer connects to the server for access.

When you’re deciding on a website host, you essentially have three choices:

  • Host it yourself with a physical server.
  • Pay a hosting company to host it for you.
  • Host it on a cloud server.

Each method has its pros and cons.

When it comes to hosting your own website, you get full control over the onsite server — but that’s only beneficial if you have enough technical expertise to manage the hardware and oversee server security. Even if you are a tech whiz, there’s still the issue of cost, time and space.

“You have to think about the office environment, the cooling system, the backup network…managing a server is really difficult and expensive,” says Danny Yim, Backend Development Lead at Motum B2B.

He notes that server hardware takes up significant office space.

“There’s also the cost of upgrading your hardware when your needs change.”

What the heck is: A server?

A server is a physical computer that stores or hosts your website data (including its pages, images, videos and other content). Alternatively, your website can be hosted on a cloud server, which is more like a network of computers.

The other option is to pay a web hosting service to do all that for you. This has been a common route for many years because it helps businesses with less expertise run their websites with an offsite server, saving space and maintenance time.

As you can imagine, the drawback of a web hosting services is that it takes direct control out of your hands. It’s also not the most cost-effective option, now that cloud servers have joined the fray.

What the heck is: A cloud?

Distinct from a single physical server, a cloud server runs on a network of several computers linked together. Think of it as a virtual space you can rent to host your website.

Cloud servers are gaining popularity because they let businesses maintain their own websites without the need for onsite physical hardware.

“It sounds fancy, but basically ‘cloud’ means a big server with a really fast network speed that lets millions of people connect at one time,” Danny explains. “Tech companies have built their own giant clouds that anyone can use.”

The two big players in the cloud server space are Amazon Web Services (AWS) and Microsoft Azure. When you use one of these services, you simply rent out a portion of the cloud to fit your website’s requirements — in other words, you only pay for what you use. It’s just as easy to rent more server space as your needs change.

Although you save money and space with the cloud option, you still need to know how to manage your server remotely.

How do you choose?

With all those pros and cons in mind, Danny says he will almost always recommend the cloud option. It offers a great degree of flexibility and control, plus it costs less than the other two options.

“A cloud server can be much cheaper than a web hosting company, but only because the cloud company does not manage the website,” says Danny.

Motum B2B manages websites on behalf of our clients, and our web team is well-versed in maintaining servers using the latest tech. If you don’t have a digital agency or a tech team on staff to manage your server, you might be better off having a web hosting service handle the work.

When it comes to choosing between Azure and AWS, the differences are minor.

“AWS Lightsail is slightly cheaper, but Azure VM has more servers available around the world,” Danny explains.

You might choose one over the other if you already have accounts with Amazon or Microsoft, making it easier to manage the accounts together.

If you’re still not sure which web hosting format is best for your B2B business, why not give our resident tech nerds a call? We’re happy to help you explore your options.