Let’s start with a definition, for those who are not familiar: Hosting is the process used to make your website visible to the world. If you have a website, it has to be hosted to be seen. A hosting service is simply a group of computers that are connected to the Internet for the purpose of storing websites and making them available.
A public hosting service makes the websites it hosts available to anyone and everyone, but there are private hosting services too. An intranet, for example, is a private network that acts like the Internet but is restricted to employees or members of a specific organization. Many organizations maintain internal websites on their intranets for the benefit of their employees or members. These websites are hosted internally and are not available to the outside world.
As with most things in life, hosting can be purchased for a variety of prices, with a variety of features, benefits, and shortcomings. Originally I typed that sentence to say “corresponding variety of features, benefits, and shortcomings,” but the reality is that the features, benefits and shortcomings don’t necessarily correspond to the price. Those of us who have arranged hosting for many websites can relate tales of truly awful hosting services and happier tales of very competent hosting services, all charging very similar prices.
And, of course, there are complexities that confuse the issue. For example, there are hosting services that specialize in hosting WordPress websites. You could host a non-WordPress site there, but it would not work as well and probably would cost more. On the other hand, many general hosting services host WordPress websites without a problem (the site you are viewing now is hosted on a general hosting service).
One of the “features, benefits and shortcomings” of a hosting service is the support. Support can be provided by email, chat, or phone. Sometimes all three are provided, sometimes only “premium” subscribers get phone support.
And then there is the question of which tier support you are getting. For a while when I first started using the hosting service this site is on, I used chat or phone support with occasionally frustrating results. The support people often had to bump my request upstairs, which added hours or even days to the time it took to get a resolution. Sometimes they simply didn’t understand my questions or requests.
When I complained to my sales rep about that he gave me a different phone number and told me to use that one instead. It turned out the phone number I used originally was Tier 2 support, while the new phone was Tier 1 support. Big difference! I found myself talking directly with the engineers. Now when I call about a problem, the answer is usually “Hang on,” followed shortly by “Try it now.”
The catch is that Tier 1 support folks expect you to talk and understand their techie language. If you do, you get a fast and cheerful resolution of your problem. If you don’t, they will send you back to the Tier 2 people. This is another reason to have your own web developer – we are fluent in Techie.
Gratuitous ad, excerpted from my Services page
There is one more factor in choosing how you host your site. If you contract directly with a hosting service, you will have to talk to tech support yourself when something goes wrong (note that I said “when,” not “if” – we are talking about computers here). As owner of a single site, you will almost certainly be routed to Tier 2 support. You may be able to argue your way into Tier 1 support, but the Tier 2 people are instructed to resist that unless they really can’t solve your problem after several tries.
CyberArtisans offers our own variety of Tier 1 hosting support: You email or call me and report your problem. That’s it. I take whatever actions and time is required to fix it. It might take 5 minutes or it might take 12 hours of dealing with tech support. In either case, I do it, with no cost to you and no additional work on your part (except maybe my calling you to ask you to check that the problem is resolved).
Does CyberArtisans Tier 1 Support cost a little more? Yep. Is it worth it? Depends on how you value your time and your frustration levels. Contact me for the details.