If you’ve ever read this blog or listened to my podcast, you know I’m very passionate about you owning your stuff, owning your websites. Today I want to talk about web hosting. Website hosting is something a lot of people don’t joke about or have a clue about. But let me tell you an uplifting story.
My sad story…
Years ago I ended up taking over a hosting company from a friend of mine. It grew and grew and grew, and eventually I got it to a new hosting company and had it put on a dedicated server. I was serving about 50 clients at the time. I was on a golf outing and all of a sudden I got this phone call saying, “Hey, one of your websites has been hacked, and if you don’t shut it down now, we’re going to take everything down. your accommodation. “That meant all of my websites, all of my clients’ websites. So I went into panic mode.
It just so happened that the church I was going to, which I gave free web hosting to as part of my “tithing,” decided to give someone else access to it. They created a Joomla! Site. Do not use Joomla! And the site was hacked. It got so hacked that it started affecting all sites. So what did I do? I said, “Okay, this is all hacked, so I’m going to take these sites and I’m going to move them to a new server and get rid of the hack.” Not so much, because that hole in the system was still there. Guess what? The hackers followed and they hacked again. It has become a nightmare.
Finally, through some of my contacts, I found someone who said to me, “I know how to fix it. I have a guy, and this guy can come in and hack your site for you. It actually had to shred the entire server, not just this website. So he did. I moved my server to his, which was a personal server farm he had in a cage in Florida with a whole bunch of other web server racks. The guy was really nice and relatively responsive. The price was right so I was back in business.
Well, not too deep into this relationship, I get a call from the guy who cracked the sites and he says, “Did you hear what happened?” I said no. He said: ‘The guy who owns the server brought his girlfriend and a male friend to their house because she wanted to move, and he shot and killed the guy. So he was arrested and taken away. Well guess what? Websites and servers just sat there with no one tending to the ship. At that time, I said, “Oh oh.”
So we transferred everything and finally I said, “I’m so out of the accommodation business.” At the time, it was part of my business. I was making a lot of money but the heartache wasn’t worth it. In fact, I lost over $10,000 on this long-term trade, and pissed off a lot of customers.
So I will never own another hosting company again. Then I had to start exploring web hosting options and what was important to my business. Just so you know… there is a big difference between domains and web hosting. For example, my main domain is b2b-im.com. This points to a specific server with web hosting systems and software. When someone types that, it finds that particular server and my files and serves them. Web hosting is where all your files are served. Keep in mind that one day you may want more than one website for your business. I will explain later.
Types of Web Hosting
There are different types of web hosting services. There are tons of free ones, tons of cheap ones, and tons of paid ones that are very expensive. You have to decide what is best for you. All I can say is you want to make sure you run it and own it, which means you’re not going to manage the web hosting, but make sure you pay for it with your own credit card. An example where this matters is if you work with a web guy, which happened recently with another client… They had their website hosted by their web guy and they had their domain hosted with this web guy, and everything at suddenly the web guy would not return their phone calls and guess what happened? Everything expired and they lost everything. They lost the domain. They lost accommodation. They lost everything.
Protect your assets!
Your website, its analytics, users, media and content are a business asset. First, you want to make sure it’s backed up in multiple ways. A local hard drive fails and you could lose all that hard work. Also, I’ve had clients who lost their domains. Here’s what happens when some of these companies can’t reach you when a domain is about to expire. Now, I’m not going to pick one, but there’s a big one out there that just waits for a domain to expire and then they claim it for themselves. Then, rather than what you normally pay for a domain, $10 or $20 for a year, they are happy to resell it to you for $500 to $1,500 just to gain access to your own domain name again. Is it a scam? Yes. Is it legal? Yes. In the end, pay it with your own credit cards. Be on the email that says, “Your hosting or domain is expiring.” Important Uber.
“I don’t need a website”… And you?
Now, a lot of people say, “I’m not that interested in websites. I have facebook. Well go back and listen to some of the other episodes I talk about where Facebook shuts people down. If you don’t own it, if you don’t control it, you can easily lose everything, including your entire business. There are free services. One of them is called Wix. They make nice sites. Nothing wrong with that, except it’s free. You don’t own it. There is another, WordPress.com. There are a few options here: you can go to WordPress.com and get a free account, or maybe pay some money per month to WordPress.com. But guess what? You cannot sell anything from it. How do you run a business where you can’t sell anything?
You want to make sure you understand the concept. This is one of the reasons why you want to have a legitimate “hosting company”. Another called Squarespace is really big. Squarespace will sell you its plan for $12 to $18 per month, which works out to $150 to $200 per year. Again, they make pretty websites. But that’s not the right way to do it. The best way to do this is to use WordPress.org – a self-hosted website using WordPress software – because it’s something you can scale on. If you quit Squarespace, everything on it disappears. With WordPress.org, you can transfer it from server to server. You can add new features. You can change the look with themes. The data behind the site is an asset that you own. You can grow with him and he can grow with you.
Here is the key thing you want to think about. Something like Squarespace charges you $12 per website. I have 20 websites, brianbasilico.com, baconcodes.com, baconpodcast.com, b2b-im.com. I can go on forever. If you are charged per website, it will cost you a lot of money. Get a very good hosting company.
The big picture
Now, there are a lot of big hosting companies, and I’m not going to mention them, but you’ve seen ads for them. Many people use them, and these are owned by large conglomerates. One of them is WEB.com. Some pose as independent companies, but most of the major hosting companies you’ve heard of are all owned by one large conglomerate.
What really matters to you? The first would be the technical support included with a hosting plan. I waited an hour to an hour and a half on some of these great ones trying to help customers. The one I work with, A2 Hosting, only takes about 10-15 minutes. I called on Easter Sunday. I have a technician; it solved my problem. Excellent technical support is one of the most important aspects of having a website for your business.
When it comes to web hosting, your business depends on you! You have to own it, pay for it, and make sure it’s run by you or a big company with great English-speaking, US-based tech support. You will thank me later.
I would love to hear your thoughts and feedback on your web hosting experiences. Comment below and share your thoughts, ideas or questions about the presentation of the concepts presented. Did you have to overcome any of the concepts presented? What worked and what didn’t meet expectations? Do you have any ideas or tips to share?