Despite the fact that businesses have seen massive shifts toward expanding their online marketing efforts, many still view the hosting of their websites as an afterthought. Selecting the right hosting provider can be intimidating, especially if you're not familiar with the terminology involved, or what specifications your site needs for optimum performance and speed.
Often, we'll see businesses gravitating toward the cheapest plans on any given host, but the old caveat of "you get what you pay for" still holds true in the 21st century. For the smallest of sites, these bargain basement plans may seem like a deal at first, but as soon as traffic begins to increase, the limitations of these plans come into sharp focus, with slow load times, error messages, and timeout warnings becoming the new normal. With these inexpensive hosts, the cheap monthly rates are also often offset with add-on fees in the form of pricey SSL certificates, email services, and charges for pretty much any additional item you might need down the road.
It is for this reason that we have begun partnering with Pantheon over the past year. Pantheon differs from many of the other providers in the field by specializing in what they offer to customers, and filtering out the rest. For example:
- Pantheon only hosts sites that have been built on one of two platforms: WordPress and Drupal. This has allowed them to focus on the unique quirks and optimization needs of these two content management systems.
- Pantheon does not offer email service. We have been recommending Google's G Suite for years for problem-free email service, and this only strengthens our advice in this area.
- Pantheon does not host DNS records. Instead, these live at the client's registrar of choice along with their domain names.
Now here are a few of the many things that Pantheon does offer:
- A redundant container-based hosting platform. If one container goes down or needs to be serviced or upgraded, another instance is simply spun up in its place, meaning there is little to no downtime for Pantheon's hosting clients.
- Free SSL certificates. With other hosts, SSL certs can cost $75 or more per year. Pantheon offers them for free via the Let's Encrypt initiative, and they are provisioned as soon as you set up your environments. Now that Google uses HTTPS as a ranking factor, the importance of these certificates cannot be stressed enough.
- Ease of migration. Moving sites between servers can be a tricky process, but Pantheon streamlines this chore with their handy Pantheon Migrations plugin. Install the plugin on your site, generate a key, and the software handles the rest.
- A read-only live environment. With Pantheon, live site files are read-only, making it that much harder for malicious hackers or malware to gain a foothold on your site. Security challenges are becoming increasingly complex, and this helps take the guesswork out of locking down your site.
- Source control. Setting up multiple development instances is as easy as clicking a button, and committing/merging/deploying these changes is just as easy. With Pantheon, you can test your changes in a closed password-protected environment, then push up only the files you need, instead of having to migrate your entire site between different environments.
- No server admin needed. Pantheon rolls out updates to their servers automatically, and by default, new environments are created using the newest version of PHP. There's no .htaccess file to manage. This can free up a significant amount of time and money that was previously spent on support, performing server maintenance, and troubleshooting issues. Pantheon support is also always a chat session or call away.
The positive aspects of Pantheon's hosting service go on...
Instead of viewing web hosting as an optional or premium expense, we encourage our clients to view it more as a necessary utility for doing business online. Just as your office needs reliable electricity or phone or internet access, so too should your hosting be similarly dependable.
Selecting a hosting provider doesn't have to be a scary process! Contact us using the link below to get advice about your hosting options today. Drop us your questions in the comment section below.