When used effectively, websites are an enormous business asset. A professional website confers credibility and professionalism. It’s a marketing tool that brings in more business. It’s capable of selling products directly online. It improves customer service and it builds relationships. These are but a few of its many benefits. However, these benefits are not possible without a reliable web server.
There are many reasons why businesses find themselves using unreliable web servers for their hosting. For example, startup company personnel are often independent DIY people who can’t resist implementing their own creative solutions. Sometimes the reason is simple expediency. The first solution that presents itself is immediately implemented so that more pressing matters can be addressed.
These hosting solutions seem perfectly viable at first glance but they place either the website or its business benefits at risk in the long-term. To understand this more fully, here are three examples of unreliable web hosting that businesses often use :
Self Hosting Without the Proper IT Personnel or Facilities
Many of us know of people who seem knowledgeable about “Internet things” and computers. Imagine a hypothetical small store owner who lacked knowledge about setting up a website, but had a teenage nephew who seemed to know a lot about these things. For the store owner, his nephew is the logical person to approach. After a short period, the website is up and running on a server in his nephew’s closet or basement. The problems with this solution are many. The server could get damaged by a pet or the basement where the server resides may flood or the nephew may lose interest when he goes to college.
While this example may seem far-fetched, placing one’s business website and hosting into the hands of a non-professional friend or family member is common. Small businesses do this because the job gets done, it’s free, and expedient.
This phenomenon has a number of variations. For example, an employee volunteers to set up a server or perhaps several servers to handle both the website hosting and the company’s other data needs. Unfortunately the employee is a tech enthusiast rather than an IT professional. Because of limited space, the servers are located in an unsuitable area such as a dusty storage room, a bathroom, or even a janitor’s closet. These types of locations are commonly referred to as “server closets” or “data center closets.” The environment may lack air conditioning or may have water sources nearby such as plumbing. Server maintenance is usually done by people whose job is to do something else. This type of self hosting is common and full of risk.
There are many free web hosting platforms online. Some are true hosting platforms in that they only provide the hosting and leave the blog or website set-up to you. Most however, come with their own built-in content management system and website theme where your only responsibility is the content creation. This second option is especially attractive for many small businesses. There’s no need to hire someone to design the website and there are no hosting bills to pay. These two benefits however, come at a heavy cost.
The most important “cost” is the issue of lack of control. Getting traffic and building a web presence is a big investment. Imagine a situation where your investment paid off well and the free website is responsible for a substantial portion of your business income. This means that your business is dependent on the terms of service of the business that owns the free hosting.
Because you aren’t a paying customer, the business doesn’t exist to service you. Even though the TOS seems favorable now, it can change at any time and they may impose restrictions that make business impossible for you. They may decide to use your content to draw traffic which they monetize with advertisements. This places them in direct competition with you for the traffic landing on your page. For these reasons, your website is an asset over which you must have full control. Even if free hosting doesn’t bring in much business, it still hurts your credibility. Without credibility you can’t build up brand recognition.
Hosting Provided by a Freelancer
There are many talented web developers and designers. Some also offer web hosting as a part of their package. This is offered to you as a convenience. However, you don’t know where the web server is located. Is it kept in a “server closet?” Is the freelancer an IT specialist? Depending on the answers to these questions, your website is at risk.
Sometimes freelancers have reseller accounts with professional web hosting companies that allow the person with the account to rent hosting to third parties such as yourself. In this case the freelancer is a middleman which means you are paying a higher hosting fee and your customer service inquiries are relayed to the hosting company through him. Why not deal directly with the hosting company yourself? Or better yet, why not deal with a hosting company of your own choosing? One that guarantees a 100% uptime, with a full customer service staff available to help you? If this makes sense to you, contact us at Applied Innovations.
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