The best thing I can relate to this is a car. Maybe I can put the analogy together in a coherent fashion. Let’s say you go out and buy a nice car, new or used. It is the perfect car, it fits your budget, runs great, and you know it will serve you well. A few months go by and a few thousand miles. It would be good to get the oil changed, but you figure it will be fine to go a little longer. A while longer goes by and the tires could be changed, but you might can go another hundred or so miles. Instead of paying for the recommended service, maybe you opt for the absolute cheapest you can find and skip the transmission service because it costs too much. Do the same on oil and tires, those can really be pricey. Why not get the so-cheap-it-is-almost-free wiper blades and battery, too. One day you might be surprised to find your nice car won’t start, and when it does it smokes and runs rough. What’s worse, the rear wheels just fell off. The mechanic said you need an engine, transmission, battery, and rear end making thousands of dollars in repairs. That piece of junk car was worthless from the beginning, right? Not so much. What am I getting at?
A good hosting account is a critical component to a good website. You can spend a pretty penny on a nice, new website that will serve you well for a long time, but neglect the hosting account, fail to run any maintenance on your site, and spend absolutely as little as possible just to keep it running. The end might be like that car with a pile of problems and issues that are expensive and difficult to fix.
We saw this recently in a couple of different customer accounts. Understand, these customers are not trying to be negligent or anything like that, but they wanted to use a hosting provider that would save them some money. Everyone likes to save money.
On one website, the host ran an update without any warning or approval from the customer. The update failed, but the host didn’t know because the whole process was automated. The client found it and needed help to get it fixed. Of course, the host is just a host so they deferred the fix to someone who build websites – like us. Adding insult to injury, that host has no tool for their customers to make or save backups of their websites. What that means is the host automated breaking a site that no one had a backup of. We fixed it, but it could have been prevented in the first place with a better service.
Another customer had a website we had built some time back and they opted to host with a larger hosting provider at a lower monthly cost. As far as we know, the entire server was hacked. No one knows for sure because the host is not talking about any of it. The website was hacked, defaced, and broken. While this host does allow for backups, they do not do anything to run regular backups for their customers. The customers can do that themselves, but many do not know how to or think about it day to day. When the account was compromised the host pushed a backup over the site from over a month previous. That cause some changes that had need applied to the site after that backup to go away. Somehow, in the process, the site was rendered almost useless for making any updates or changes. We were able to get the site updated again with the missing information, but it took about four times as long as it should.
A good hosting account might cost you more money month to month, but it really will save you money and trouble in the future with solid backups, good monitoring, and people who care about the way things operate. We run that kind of hosting, and, while nothing is 100% problem free, when our hosting customers have issues we do everything we can to resolve them quickly and correctly. A good host really makes or breaks a good website.