When it comes to houses, you can rent or you can own. Each has it’s advantages and disadvantages. For instance, renting means low startup costs – a deposit for renting is much lower than a downpayment for a mortgage. But ownership means that you have control over the place. You can decide when and how things get fixed up. You can do things that wouldn’t be allowed if you were renting. You can make it your own.
Websites are the same. There are plenty of options to “rent” websites. Hosted services – including WordPress.com, SquareSpace, Facebook, and many others – allow you to get started quickly and get you in the game. But like renting, you may have to worry about getting evicted if the landlord sells and you have to live by their rules. Plus, that aquamarine paint you love so much or updating the cabinets, that’s a no-no.
When you want to own, and control, your website, you’ll need to go to a self-hosted solution. You purchase space on a server to house your code just as you’d purchase land to build your house upon. What kind of house, and what color you paint it, well that’s up to you. You can decide what to do with your piece of cyberspace and make it suit your needs.
straightTALK: “Renting” a website can be a fine way to get started, but OWNing allows you to do so much more.
The first rule of real estate is “Location! Location! Location!” Where you build can have an impact on your budget, your security, even your future.
For a website, the “location” is the hosting company and service package you choose to go with. As in most things in life, you get what you pay for. While cheap hosting can get you by for a while, and it might even be okay for a “storage shed” of a website, but when your “home” is important to you, you’ll want to have it in a location where it will be safe from the bad guys (as much as possible) and “insured” against the worst. Translated, that means security and backups.
You can choose to manage security and backups yourself, but be prepared to invest time for learning, keeping up, and doing the actual tasks, plus probably a little bit of money as well. Or you can pay someone to take this responsibility off your shoulders.
Which direction you go can depend on how important your site is to you, how much time you have available to deal with it, or how much money you have in the budget. But like homeowner’s insurance, this isn’t an area to skimp on and should be the first thing added to and the last thing cut from the budget.
straightTALK: When it comes to website hosting, you get what you pay for. Set your expectations accordingly.