Signs you need to upgrade your hosting account
With websites an essential part of a digital presence, downtime can hurt your corporate or personal brand. At some point squeezing a little more processing power out of your current hosting plan will hit a ceiling, which means it’s time to look at a hosting plan that can carry you into the future.
In this article
|Common Hosting Account Limitation Errors|
|Other Reasons to Upgrade Your Hosting Account|
|It’s All About Growth|
Common Hosting Account Limitation Errors
With that said, it’s important to remember that a poorly managed website or faulty code can exhibit some of the same symptoms as a hosting account virtually bursting at the seams.
This can be remedied by employing effective website management to ensure that there are no loose ends, unnecessary code or plugins, and that your content is properly curated. Learning how to read and keep an eye on your server or website logs can also help keep a finger on the pulse of your website’s resource consumption. When all else fails, your hosting provider’s support team can help cut through the noise to help determine whether you need an upgraded account, or just some good old maintenance TLC.
1. Your website is slow / goes down regularly
Your website needs processing power (CPU), storage, and memory (RAM). If there’s too little of any of these resources, your site will slow down or it will simply fail to load. Alternatively, some of your site’s software components will fail in their execution, in which case you could receive random error messages (which are typically unrelated to the cause of the problem – websites are sometimes built with the assumption that all necessary resources will be available as needed).
In this case your first port of call should be your cPanel / web control panel dashboard for usage statistics. If you don’t have access to a web control panel, check your logs. However, keep in mind that without any disk space fresh logs can’t be written.
2. You get database connection errors
Database errors can occur for various reasons. However, when they’re related to limitations of your hosting account, you may find that they appear and disappear on their own, and typically correlate with peak traffic to your website.
The causes of these database errors can be numerous, but often relate to resource exhaustion which can include a limit on the number of database connections. You could also find that your database becomes slow and unresponsive as it exceeds its allocated storage space. Failing that, your hosting account’s processing capabilities could also become exhausted, in which case your visitors can experience connection timeouts or severe delays in load times.
Various solutions exist, with the most common to migrate the entire website (including database) to a cloud or dedicated server. Dedicated database hosting is another option, which, as the name suggests, is hosting for your database(s) alone (so no website files). Alternatively, if you don’t want to upgrade your hosting account just yet, you could hire a database administrator to perform database optimisation in an attempt to improve database performance while at the same time shrinking your database size.
3. You can’t install some addons or features
This applies especially to shared hosting accounts, where the hosting service provider typically provides all the software features and modules a basic website will need to function. As your website grows, however, you may start using custom code or plugins that provide enhanced website functionality which, in turn, requires software features or modules not necessarily considered ‘standard’.
If you have a cloud server or dedicated server, these modules are often easy to install. Shared hosting accounts, on the other hand, are limited to the installed features and modules.
4. You struggle to host large images or videos
Images used on standard brochure sites tend to be relatively small – 500KB or smaller. You may find a need, however, to serve larger images to your audiences – perhaps you’re running an architectural or engineering firm, and need to showcase solutions and examples of previous work. These files tend to be a few hundred megabytes in size, or even a few gigabytes. This not only requires a lot of space, but bandwidth, too.
The same applies to self-hosting your own video files – they tend to be huge, and require a lot of processing power and memory in addition to bandwidth and storage space.
Cloud servers are scalable, which means resources can be added either temporarily or permanently. Entire cloud servers can also exist for as long as it is needed. Dedicated servers (a physical server), on the other hand, are less flexible since resources are typically added on a permanent basis. (However, cloud servers can be added as load balancers to help carry the load of the dedicated server – either permanently or temporarily.)
Other Reasons to Upgrade Your Hosting Account
Perhaps your website works just fine and your pages load fast. It could still be a good idea to upgrade your hosting account if any of the following is true.
5. You need to host multiple websites
Chances are you already have a need to host multiple websites, even if you own and manage a single website. Best practice guidelines suggest that every website should at least have a staging version where updates and new features are tested in an identical hosting environment to your live or production website.
These new features aren’t developed or tested on the staging website, but rather on a development or ‘dev’ website – which can either be a temporary site installed on your local computer, or hosted on the internet alongside your production and staging websites.
6. You need more security
The privacy of a dedicated server and the servers in a private cloud inherently adds an additional layer of security. In contrast, with shared hosting and public cloud servers you share the same physical hardware with other tenants which, if compromised, could theoretically give attackers access to the server and therefore your website and information.
Between shared hosting and public cloud servers, shared hosting is often the weakest link since service providers typically have to employ security mechanisms that aren’t too restrictive. A public cloud server, on the other hand, can be hardened with custom security measures since the tenant (you) has full access to the operating system. In a managed server setup this is handled entirely by the host.
7. You need to cut costs
Believe it or not, shared hosting can be more expensive than a public cloud server. This becomes true when you frequently or consistently exceed the limitations of your hosting account. You may also find that running multiple managed public cloud servers costs more than running your own managed private cloud for the same reason.
It’s All About Growth
While there are plenty of reasons to consider a bigger, better, and shinier hosting account, it really boils down to growth. Do you have the tools and resources you need to increase and effectively manage greater amounts of traffic and transactions? Is security critical to protect your website and customer information? Investing in the proper hosting infrastructure can make a world of difference, and give you the breathing room to grow.
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