If you run a small business in 2021, it goes without saying that you need to have a business website. One of the more complex sides of creating and managing a business website is deciding whether or not to self-host.
bLet’s look at the pros and cons in several areas, and give you our vote for whether self-hosting or outsourced hosting is a better choice within each of the five areas.
But first, a quick refresher:
Your business website will fall into the category of either a collection of pages, web applications, or content management systems. Whichever you use will, to some extent, determine the type of hosting you need.
Your website will need a server. This is where your site files are stored along with the software needed to deliver those files to a requester. To simplify, when someone clicks on your homepage they are using software to request and access your website files which are stored on a server.
In order to self-host, you need to purchase a server that is capable of keeping up with the demand for your business website. You couldn’t operate a business website using your personal laptop as a server, because the demand would overwhelm and eventually crash both your website and your device.
Business Website Control
A big benefit to self-hosting is that you have full control of your site. You own everything. If you are avoiding a hosted site because you don’t trust third parties and you have the technological know-how to set up and host your site securely, then this could be a good option for your peace of mind.
Some small businesses have gotten into sticky situations because they thought they owned their full site when in actuality they worked with a developer who purchased and, hence, owns their web domain. Or they work with companies like Squarespace or Wix which appear to be a self-hosting option, but in actuality those companies own your website too.
Ownership can be a tricky thing when it comes to your business website. It’s the front door or “face” of your digital brand, and releasing some of that control even in exchange for the benefits that outsourced hosting can provide, can be a scary thing.
Our recommendation is to really take the time to source your options and decide what you feel most comfortable with as a small business owner. For that reason, we are calling a draw between self-hosting and outsourced hosting.
Self-hosting score: 1/5
Outsourced hosting score: 1/5
Business Website Set-Up
When you outsource your hosting, you are choosing to work with a reputable company that has invested in top-notch servers and computers that have fast and reliable internet connection and an enormous amount of bandwidth. The set-up is done for you, by knowledgeable professionals that can provide you with simple tools for running your website. They’ve already done the heavy lifting (and taken on the huge expense, more on that in the next section!) of acquiring and setting up the technology needed to run your website.
They can also advise you on the best type of hosting for your small business website. Because, no, hosting isn’t just one-and-done. You have several options for how to host your site from shared, dedicated, and VPS hosting, to cloud-based and managed hosting. They can help you select the option that works best for your needs.
Whatever you choose, if you are self-hosting then you have to deal with the complexity of setting up a personal server.. Even if you have the know-how (or can outsource just that portion of the set-up), you are going to run into the problem of needing fast enough internet and a lot of bandwidth. This is complicated, not to mention expensive.
Going with a hosted site takes away the hassle and complexity of starting from scratch. You can hit the ground running pretty quickly with a hosted site, and so we’ve got to give them the win for this section.
Self-hosting score: 1/5
Outsourced hosting score: 2/5
Business Website Start-up Costs
Depending on the size and annual revenue of your small business, the initial cost of having a third party host your site can be a little daunting. It can be a significant percentage of your operating cost and is worth taking the time to shop around and find a company with good ratings that can work with your budget.
But consider this, most small businesses that host their own site end up having to hire an additional staff member to manage the site. In most cases, that is going to end up costing more money than working with a company that can host your business website.
The fact is, that the cost of self-hosting is just as big a barrier to small businesses as going with a hosting company. It’s just that those costs add up over a longer portion of time. If you are new to the world of website building and hosting, you are going to invest a lot of time and energy that might be better spent on other areas of your small business. And even if you are just looking at the bottom line, the start-up costs for self-hosting can also be more than you would pay for when working with a hosting company. Just the server alone is going to be an enormous cost right at the outset.
While the initial cost might be higher, our vote goes to using a hosting site to save expenses in the long run.
Self-hosting score: 1/5
Outsourced hosting score: 3/5
Business Website Security
When you outsource to a company that specializes in hosting websites, you get a suite of security benefits for one price that would be far more expensive and complex to manage on your own. A hosting service will use professional data centers to host their servers. They can offer the security of generators, cooling, offsite back-ups, and other measures to protect your website data. These all-inclusive services can make a world of difference if your site is victim to an attempted or successful hack.
If you pick a reputable and established hosting company that offers managed hosting, then part of your package will be 24/7 monitoring and support. This can be invaluable because you are literally paying someone else to ensure that your website stays protected and running at all times. It saves you time to do the business of running your small business, and leaving the technical management of your site in the hands of experts whose best interest is in keeping customers like you satisfied.
Self-hosting your business website can create more security risks and can also be less reliable, based on the internet coverage in your area. It also means that you’re on your own when it comes to cybersecurity, data back-ups, and taking on the cost of recovering your website if it does fall victim to a cybercriminal.
Even if you have the technical know-how, the time, and the funds required to deal with a catastrophic event, the peace of mind that you gain from paying the experts to handle this is well worth the expense.
Imagine having to negotiate with a hacker to purchase your site back. Or trying to keep you small business’ front-of-house running while you try to process a full data backup. It sounds pretty miserable, doesn’t it? For that reason, we’ve got to give this round to outsourced hosting.
Self-hosting score: 1/5
Outsourced hosting score: 4/5
Business Website Speed
A quality hosting site will offer faster speeds that can translate into a better customer experience and higher search rankings. Both customer experience and search rankings can work wonders (or the opposite) for your small business reputation and your new customer acquisition.
On the flip side, as mentioned in the section above, when you are self-hosting your business website, you are at the mercy of the internet speeds and connectivity in your area.
For us, this one is a no-brainer. We’ve got to give it to outsourced hosting.
Self-hosting score: 1/5
Outsourced hosting score: 5/5
If you are looking for a local company that provides web hosting and other business services, Tech Masters can perform a full evaluation, from email to your business website, and domain hosting. We also check for vulnerabilities and explore where you could be saving on your hosting. We can ensure that you have full control over all your business services. Contact us for a free consultation today!
“Ownership can be a tricky thing when it comes to your business website.“
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