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Welcome to the Ignition Development blog, where we talk about a wide range of technical and non-technical topics.

November 2014 Entries

Demystifying Hosting Costs

Sometimes your website can feel a bit like an ungrateful child. You bring it into this world, and from that moment on it keeps asking for money and attention. Hosting costs, domain renewals, upgrades, and if you’re running WordPress or Drupal, constant screams of “WHAAAA I’VE BEEN HACKED!”. Unlike an ungrateful child, your website hopefully won’t steal your car and go on a joyride after mixing rocket fuel from your top shelf liquor and end up being picked up by the cops at 2am after being caught tagging the local over bridge. Yet.

Unfortunately we can’t change the fact that Little Johnny Website does need some money and some occasional attention in order to keep running, but what we can do is take some time out to explain our approach to hosting and domain renewal costs.

Hosting Costs

Hosting costs can vary a lot between companies, but the offerings aren’t always like for like. If a company is charging $5 a month for their hosting then there’s often a reason why they’re charging that amount.

Firstly, there’s many options for different levels of power in your hosting server. You can share a single server with thousands of sites, and that allows the hosting company to reduce their costs considerably. Unfortunately, unless this is done well, your site’s performance can suffer. We ensure that our servers are all very well resourced, and nowhere near overloaded – that means much better performance for you and your site. Issues with badly configured sites and servers can range from a site that’s simply a little bit slow, through to showing lovely error messages like the one below to your users. You don’t need to have a PhD in Online Sales Conversions to guess that this error message isn’t going to be helping sales.

Another trick that can be used to reduce costs is to have servers located offshore. There’s a number of cheap hosting providers which can be sub-leased from the US for prices which are much cheaper than New Zealand based equivalents. The problem here is that if you’re a New Zealand business then you really want your site to be hosted as geographically close to your customers/visitors as possible, that way they’ll experience the best possible speeds. The difference in speed for a New Zealand visitor between a site hosted in New Zealand and one hosted in the US or Europe will vary depending on the site (how the site is designed, whether it has large images, and a number of other factors) but a discerning user will definitely notice a difference. We have servers located in New Zealand, as well as cloud options to provide Europe and US based sites for our overseas customers if needed. This means we have a range of options to provide you with the best performance for your site no matter where your target audience may reside.

Finally we come to backups and monitoring. With our hosting plans these are all included as standard, but it’s common for them to be offered as an additional charge on top of that $5 a month. We think that backups and monitoring are pretty important parts of operating a website, and that they shouldn’t be optional - so we include them in all our plans and take them seriously. All of our sites are backed up daily to 2 separate secure locations for redundancy. We also have a number of monitoring solutions in place, some at a server level (so we know if the server is experiencing any issue whatsoever) and some at the individual site level (which lets us spot any unusual activity, such as potential hacking down to a customer simply using an incorrect link to try and find a page). What this means is that there’s a high chance we’re going to identify any issues with our systems well before your site’s visitors do, and will be able to remedy them quickly. It also means that if you’re experiencing a tricky/intermittent issue with your site, then we’ve got the diagnostic tools to help pin it down and fix it.

Of course there are some sites where $5 hosting is fine, but we don’t think yours is one of them.

Domain Renewal Costs

Some customers like to manage their own domain names while other customers would rather let us take care of it. Typically your domain names don’t need a lot of maintenance once they’ve been setup, however there is an annual cost which is paid to a governing body. This cost varies depending on the domain extension – for example, .co.nz domains typically cost around $40 per year, the newly released .nz domains are $25, and .com domains can be even cheaper.

When it comes to charging for domain renewals, Ignition Development does not add any mark up to these. We’re simply passing on the direct cost and nothing more. However there can be discounts for renewing for more than one year, so if you’d like to discuss this then please get in touch.

Summary

The old saying ‘You get what you pay for’ is very true when it comes to hosting costs. We spend a lot of money making sure that our infrastructure is up to scratch, and that means we need to charge a little more than $5 a month. We think it’s worth it, and we hope you do too.

If you’d like to talk more about hosting, or if this blog post raises any questions, then please feel free to get in touch.

 

-Ross

This blog entry was posted @ Thursday, November 6, 2014 10:32 AM | Feedback (0) | Filed under Business