When to upgrade your web hosting package

Over time, your web hosting needs may change. But if you’re not an experienced user, it can be difficult to figure out whether you really have outgrown your hosting service.

In this article, we’ll look at some reasons why you may want to upgrade your hosting package. We’ll also look at some of the alternative measures you could try before you part with any more money.

Do you need more control?

For many businesses and individuals, low-cost shared web hosting is perfectly adequate. On a shared web hosting package, you’ll benefit from a range of features and tools to get your website up and running, without the need to learn highly specialised skills.

Over time, your business website may outgrow the resources shared hosting can offer. As your website is expanded and improved, your web designer may need more control over the operating system and resources on the server. For example, on a VPS plan, you can control the amount of memory available to your site, and also monitor the CPU usage in fine detail. To get this kind of access, you’ll need to upgrade.

Alternatives

  • Ask your host whether they can tweak the necessary settings on your shared hosting account. If your needs are relatively straightforward, you may not need to upgrade your package at all.
  • Do you need to see how the server is performing? Analytics packages can harvest basic performance data, so unless you need to see in-depth process usage, you can probably get by with an external solution.

Is your site sluggish?

Shared hosting is a great, low-cost solution for many small businesses, but the main disadvantage of the shared model is the potential for bottlenecks. Each host places multiple websites on the same server, and if one website is misbehaving and sucking resources from the server, the others will suffer.

Note that reseller hosting normally uses the same service model as regular hosting. If you’re a reseller, you’re probably going to be exposed to the same risks.

Google Webmaster Tools can give you a broad overview of your site’s speed. Using this data, you’ll be in a better position to decide whether to upgrade your hosting package. Providing you’re comfortable working with technical data, you can also review the processes that are running on your box to tweak and improve your site’s performance.

Alternatives

  • Try a caching plugin. WordPress users can install WP Super Cache or WP Total Cache. Don’t install more than one caching plugin, and test your site thoroughly to ensure it’s still working as expected.
  • Ask your host if they offer a CDN service, such as CloudFlare. A CDN delivers content to end users more quickly, spreading the load over multiple servers. Basic CDN services are free.

Have you been scolded and suspended?

If your site is using an excessive amount of resources, your host may suspend it without warning. Every host has its own rules about ‘excessive’ use; HostGator allows customers on shared or reseller accounts to use a maximum of 25 percent of CPU for no longer than 90 seconds, for example.

Even if your shared web hosting plan offers ‘unlimited’ resources, your host may still shut your site down if it believes your resource usage is excessive. Shared hosting is really only suitable for sites that don’t need huge amounts of CPU power.

If you’re sure your site is power-hungry for good reason – in other words, your social media campaigns are picking up, or your marketing campaigns are resulting in traffic spikes – your best bet is an upgrade dedicated server. Not only can you use all of the dedicated server’s resources, but you’ll also be allowed to play around with the server configuration for better performance.

Alternatives

  • The most common reason for shared hosting account suspension is a badly optimised script or plugin that hogs server CPU. Many customers feel they should upgrade to a VPS, but this is equivalent to sticking a Band-Aid over the real problem. Instead, invest in a specialist web developer who can get to the bottom of your resource usage problems or ask your host for advice.

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