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Saving money on your hosting and expecting to build a fast-loading website is like building a house on sand and hoping not to have any issues.
It doesn’t matter if you use the finest materials when your foundation is corrupted.
The same goes for your site’s performance.
If your hosting is unreliable, installing top plugins won’t make up for it.
That’s why selecting the right hosting provider is paramount for your website’s overall performance.
Read on to learn more about the importance of web hosting, the key hosting factors influencing your site’s speed, and how to select the right hosting service for your business needs.
You may think your hosting is nothing more than the service needed to have a website.
Well, it’s actually way more than that.
Your hosting directly impacts your site’s:
Firstly, at its core, your web hosting determines how quickly data is transferred from the server to the visitor. A slow or overcrowded server can lead to frustrating delays, causing users to abandon your site and possibly never return. And with search engines like Google factoring site speed into their ranking algorithms, a lagging website can also hurt your visibility on search results.
Beyond speed, reliability is paramount. Imagine investing resources into a marketing campaign only to have your website crash during peak traffic. A reliable hosting provider ensures uptime, safeguarding against these potential losses. Also, running a crash-prone website is a surefire way to hurt your brand’s image.
Furthermore, in an era where cyber threats are rampant, a good hosting provider offers essential security features, from SSL certificates to regular backups, safeguarding your site's data and, more importantly –- your visitors' trust.
Lastly, scalability should not be overlooked. As your business grows, your website will likely see increased traffic and require more resources. A quality hosting provider not only handles this growth but facilitates it, ensuring that as your audience expands, their experience remains seamless.
What we’re trying to say is…
Your hosting service is more than just a technical choice. It's a strategic business decision that influences your website's success and, by extension, your brand's digital footprint.
That being said – let’s delve deeper into the key factors you should consider for achieving a fast website when choosing a hosting provider.
Although we’re talking about digital services, hosting, and websites, the truth is that physical distances still matter.
The physical location of the servers your website is hosted on, in relation to your target audience, can significantly affect your website's performance.
When a visitor accesses your website, the request travels from their device to the server where your site is hosted. The farther away they are from this server, the longer this journey takes, introducing what is known as latency.
If you primarily cater to a local audience, it's essential to understand where your hosting provider's servers are located. If you operate predominantly within a particular region or country, ensure the servers are close to your core audience.
This proximity ensures reduced latency and faster access to your content, leading to quicker page loads and an enhanced user experience.
However, if you serve an international audience, mere server location won't suffice. In this case, you need to ensure that your hosting provider can offer you a Content Delivery Network (CDN).
A CDN is a network of servers positioned across various global locations. These servers store cached versions of your site's static content, ensuring that international users receive data from the nearest server.
By doing so, a CDN minimizes the distance data needs to travel, thus reducing latency and speeding up access for users, no matter where they are in the world.
As a high-performance car relies on its engine's quality and specs, your website's speed and responsiveness are deeply tied to the server resources it can access. Among these, RAM, CPU, and Disk I/O play pivotal roles.
RAM (Random Access Memory)
When a visitor accesses your website, the server retrieves the necessary data from RAM because it's faster than fetching it from the storage drive. Adequate RAM ensures that frequently accessed website elements are readily available, which can drastically cut down on load times. Insufficient RAM can cause the server to use disk space as an alternative, which is significantly slower and can hamper website performance.
If you’re asking yourself: “How much RAM do I need?” use the following data as an indicator:
CPU (Central Processing Unit)
Every action, from processing user requests to executing scripts, is managed by the CPU. A robust CPU becomes even more crucial if your site is heavy with dynamic content and databases or utilizes complex scripts. The faster and more efficient your CPU, the quicker these tasks are completed, leading to swifter page loads and smoother user interactions.
Disk I/O (Input/Output)
This metric gauges the speed at which data can be read from or written to the disk by the server. High Disk I/O speeds are essential, especially for websites that frequently access or write to databases.
For instance, e-commerce sites or platforms with user-generated content might require high Disk I/O speeds to maintain quick, efficient operations. Slow Disk I/O can delay these processes, resulting in longer load times and potential timeouts for users.
Bandwidth and traffic limits set by your hosting provider play a critical role in determining how well your website performs, especially during times of high user activity.
A hosting plan’s bandwidth determines the data transfer rate between your website and its visitors. A higher bandwidth means faster page load times, especially for content-rich websites. However, limited bandwidth can lead to slow loading and incomplete page displays.
Your traffic limit is the maximum amount of data transfer your website can handle over a period, usually a month. When you hit this limit, your website may slow down, restrict certain functions, or even go offline.
During traffic surges, like a product launch, viral content spread, or promotional campaign, insufficient bandwidth or low traffic limits can degrade the user experience. It's essential to choose a hosting subscription that meets your website's needs, ensuring consistent performance and accessibility even during high activity periods.
Building up on the last point, scalability is a hosting feature that plays a vital role in web performance.
Scalability in the context of web hosting refers to the ability of a hosting environment to handle increased traffic loads without compromising performance. Essentially, it's about how well your hosting solution can grow with your website's demands.
As your business expands, so does your content, number of users, and data. A scalable hosting provider ensures that your hosting environment adapts seamlessly as your website grows without needing major overhauls or migrations.
On the other hand, a non-scalable hosting solution can lead to a poor user experience during peak traffic times. Slow-loading pages or website downtimes not only frustrate users but can also harm search engine rankings.
Great, you already know the critical hosting factors that impact your website’s performance.
Now comes the harder question:
Which hosting service is the best for my business?
While you can always contact the hosting provider and ask them for assistance, it’s good to enter this discussion well-prepared, knowing the main differences.
Here’s a quick overview of the main hosting types and their web performance advantages and disadvantages:
In simpler terms, shared hosting is a hosting arrangement where a number of websites share server space.
It’s like living in an apartment complex where you share resources with other residents. Your site is hosted on a server along with multiple other websites, sharing the server's bandwidth, RAM, and storage space. And because resources are shared, configuration or overuse by one user can impact others.
That being said, sudden traffic surges in one website can impact others on the same server, leading to potential slowdowns or downtimes.
A VPS is a physical server divided into multiple virtual compartments, each with its own independent operating system.
VPS hosting is akin to living in a condo. While you share a building (server) with others, you have your own dedicated portion of space (resources).
As resources are reserved for each site, it offers much better stability and speed compared to shared hosting.
The great thing about using dedicated server hosting is that you have exclusive rights and control over all server resources, providing optimal conditions for site performance.
It is like owning a standalone house. All server resources, from RAM to storage, are dedicated solely to your website.
As you can guess, the dedicated server hosting provides optimal performance and uptime since all resources are exclusively yours. No risk of other sites affecting your performance.
With Cloud hosting, instead of relying on a single server, it pulls from a network of interconnected virtual servers, often spread across different physical locations.
It’s like having multiple homes spread across a city. Your website uses resources from multiple servers in a cloud infrastructure.
The best thing about the cloud is that it’s extremely scalable. It allows your site to pull resources from multiple servers and offers high reliability and uptime, even during traffic surges.
Want to learn more about the different hosting types? Check out this video:
Server location, hosting resources, and scalability are fundamental when choosing the right hosting provider and plan. However, there are a few more factors that you should not neglect, which will guarantee your site’s overall good performance.
A secure hosting environment is paramount not only to protect your site's data but also to ensure optimal performance. Cyberattacks, like DDoS attacks, can slow down or entirely crash your site. Relying on a hosting provider that can offer robust security measures means you can prevent such attacks from affecting your website's performance and compromising user experience.
Imagine losing all your website data overnight. Automatic backups are your safety net against data loss, technical glitches, or cyberattacks. With regular backups, you can quickly restore your site to its previous state, minimizing downtime and ensuring the continuity of the user experience. This feature provides peace of mind, knowing that whatever happens, your content and settings are safe.
Running a website can sometimes be challenging, especially when unforeseen issues arise. Having a responsive and knowledgeable customer support team can make all the difference. Whether you're facing performance issues, security concerns, or technical glitches, a competent support team ensures quick resolutions, minimizing potential impacts on your site's performance and user experience.
Your website can't serve its purpose if it's not accessible. Uptime guarantees are commitments by hosting providers to keep your site live and accessible for a specified percentage of time. High uptime rates (like 99.9%) mean your site is almost always online, ensuring a consistent user experience. Even a 0.1% downtime can translate to hours in a year – time when potential visitors or customers can't reach your site. Always opt for a provider with a strong uptime guarantee.
If you look up the word “outlier” in the dictionary, you might as well find Cloudways standing right next to it.
Besides offering a rich list of standard hosting opportunities like WordPress, Magento, and Ecommerce hosting, Cloudways has a unique approach to providing their cloud services.
Instead of providing its own infrastructure, Cloudways lets you choose from three different cloud hosting providers – DigitalOcean, AWS, and Google Cloud.
In terms of included features, Cloudways offers everything you might need:
And tons of other features you can check out here.
It’s not whether your hosting impacts your speed but how much it enables or hinders your site’s performance.
That’s why one of the biggest favors you can do for your business is to select a high-quality hosting partner.
Yes, we don’t even call it provider or service.
Finding the right hosting partner means they can perfectly identify what your business needs in terms of hosting service. Furthermore, they will be able to support your growth every step of the way, guaranteeing you 99.9% uptime, security, and performance.
Only when you build a solid foundation for your site can you level up your performance with plugins.
Like NitroPack, for instance.
NitroPack is an all-in-one page speed solution that instantly boosts your site’s performance thanks to its 35+ built-in optimizations.
Today, 180,000+ websites achieve better PSI scores, Core Web Vitals, and conversion rates by adding NitroPack to their tech stack.
If you too want to join the top 1% of fastest websites worldwide, install NitroPack!
Niko has 5+ years of experience turning those “it’s too technical for me” topics into “I can’t believe I get it” content pieces. He specializes in dissecting nuanced topics like Core Web Vitals, web performance metrics, and site speed optimization techniques. When he’s taking a breather from researching his next content piece, you’ll find him deep into the latest performance news.