Changing Web Hosts - Pros and Cons
Nearly everyone will want to change to a new web host at some point. It may involve just changing out old hardware for new. It usually
means finding an entirely new web hosting company. When faced with that decision
there are a number of issues to be considered.
Swapping hardware and/or software is a fairly straightforward decision. There are two
possible scenarios. Either you maintain your own hardware and software at a facility managed by others, or you are
considering upgrading to newer (usually more expensive) systems maintained by others.
In either case, it's simply a matter of estimating the cost and the short-term impact
versus the long-term benefits. If the system(s) you currently use are short on capacity, sooner or later you'll be
sufficiently motivated to make the change. Either the hardware will become unreliable or loaded to the point you'll
be forced to migrate, or your needs will expand enough to justify the effort and expense of moving.
Similar considerations apply to the scenario in which you rely on the web hosting
company for everything, and want to find someone else to rely on. Regrettably, that's a very common situation. Many
web hosting companies provide systems and staff that sooner or later fall below an acceptable level.
Most people make the decision to change based on emotion. That's not entirely bad.
Emotions incent you to take action. But you need to keep a cool head, too, in order to calculate your long-range
self-interest. Bearing some minor inconveniences from time to time is usually worth the trade off. When it begins
to affect your site to the point you're losing visitors, it's time to make a change.
To get a more objective handle on when that point is reached, reach for some numbers.
Maintain, or get from the hosting company, a factual report about availability and current usage. If the server is down
so much, or so heavily loaded, that it drives your visitors away, it's time to take action.
There are other less easily quantifiable but equally important factors, as
You will at some point need to communicate with one or more persons who help maintain
your site. Even if you do all your own server, database and web site maintenance, someone behind the scenes is
helping to keep things running smoothly. That's called 'infrastructure'. If the road you drive on has potholes,
it's not enough that you can fix your own car.
In terms of network bandwidth and availability, server capacity, disk space, security and a whole array of other aspects, the web
hosting company has to have competent people who care (and are allowed) to do the job well. When the company's
people fall down - because of incompetence, lack of resources or absence of a culture of excellence - or for any
other reason - your web site suffers. This issue more than any other is what drives people to seek another
web hosting company.
Even if you choose your web hosting well at the outset, things can change. Management
changes, staff changes and companies are taken over by other companies. Sometimes, it isn't simply a matter of
swapping out an unreliable piece of hardware or software. When it's time to swap out web
hosting, you look for the same aspect: doing the job required.
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