After you have thought about the importance of your website you will most likely fall into one of four categories.
1. A simple static information site. A website that is not critical to the day-to-day operation of your business. Typical sites of this type are often created by a local graphic artist at the same time they create brochures and other advertising material. A website of this type being down for a day or so may have little effect on the business it represents. Budget, low cost shared hosting is a practical solution. You can find reliable low cost hosting in the $5 to $10 per month range.
2. A database driven web site employing owner managed content with enough information to encourage frequent visitors. This type of website is a more significant business resource than an online brochure or contact page. It is a site where you expect your customers and prospects to visit often for reference material or timely information about your company. if you expect less than 20,000 page views per month a carefully selected, shared hosting environment should be adequate and cost effective. Expect to pay from $20 to $40 per month.
The above comments and suggested prices are based on unmanaged hosting, where you are simply renting server capacity and bandwidth. You are expected to maintain your own website or have your representative do it. In most cases customers in this position rely on their “Web Person” to deal with the hosting company and make changes as needed to the web site. Don’t expect the hosting company to make updates to your web site or have any interest in your web site content, traffic or search engine ranking. If you want this then you need managed hosting. Managed hosting doesn’t always mean the same thing. For my clients with type #1 and #2 web sites, as defined above, I provide managed hosting. I charge $69.95 per month to provide managed hosting for a database driven web site where the client manages the content using a content management system. My managed hosting includes a half hour of support each month, which can be used to make simple changes or be applied toward more challenging tasks. Managed hosting starts at $69.95/month for about the same server capacity as available elsewhere for $29.95 per month as an unmanaged hosting service from the better hosting companies. I offer managed hosting to my clients as a mutual convenience rather than thinking of it as a major profit center. It saves time for me and money for you.
3. Web sites that play a significant role in the day-to-day operation of your business need special consideration and somebody that cares about your website. Most of my clients fit in this category. These web sites are too important for a budget, unmanaged hosting environment. I host sites like these in a managed cloud environment. A cloud is like shared hosting on a server except there are hundreds of servers connected together with special software supervising the allocation of resources, ensuring that each “cloud instance” is getting the resources they are paying for. When you step up to this level you need resource and security management on a 24/7 basis. My client web sites run in a cloud at Softlayer located in Dallas, TX. The cloud instance is backed up, using Evault software, to the Softlayer datacenter in San Jose CA. The services I buy for my clients are among the very best available and they are there for us 24/7. I charge $69.95/month for managed hosting on our SoftLayer cloud servers.
4. High traffic, mission critical sites. I recommend a dedicated cloud instance or dedicated physical server leased from a provider with multiple backbone connections, monitoring and security management. Expect to pay anywhere from $275/mo on up for this type of service.