We’ve been asked a few times over the last few years about hosting, what’s covered and the associated charges. With companies such as GoDaddy, Hostgator and 123-Reg offering hosting services at minimal costs, it’s worth establishing why our services cost a bit more.
At Creatomatic, we operate a sliding scale of ongoing hosting costs based on the physical space taken up by your site; estimated or recorded traffic; and bandwidth used to deliver services. Our costs are, therefore, variable, but typically start at around £50 per month.
It’s worth clarifying exactly what this annual cost covers, and why – frankly – we’re more expensive than the DIY packages out there.
Our hosting packages cover the following:
- Website hosting
- On and off-site backups
- Essential server maintenance and security
- DNS and related domain services.
Delving a wee bit deeper into each of these:
The ‘hosting for dummies’ guide: When you launch a website, it has to live somewhere on the internet – basically another computer, or server, connected to the network, which is publicly available 24/7.
Website hosting is big business. There are hundreds of companies who work solely to provide hosting, running enormous data centres which can host millions of sites. Further down the food chain, the majority of smaller web design agencies hire ‘shared’ hosting space from these data centres, usually paying a fixed price to host any number of websites and email, and letting the data centre deal with the complex stuff.
Creatomatic don’t do this. Instead, we hire dedicated servers in a UK-based data centre, which we manage ourselves.
Why? Because large-scale shared hosting is unreliable: if things go wrong, you’re often at the mercy of a tech support team who can take hours or even days to respond with thousands of issues being dealt with on a daily basis.
Furthermore, we know exactly what’s on each of our servers, meaning the chances of your business’ website sharing an IP address with something unsavoury are slim to none.
Creatomatic run several public servers, named after pioneers of science and technology. (For security reasons, we can’t name them all here, but my personal favourite is Sinclair….) Each server runs at no more than 70% of capacity at any given time; they’re monitored 24/7 by our data centre and ourselves, using a mobile alert system which tests every server every five minutes. If something goes wrong, we’re on-hand within seconds to fix.
Backups & redundancy
Each of Creatomatic’s servers operate on a RAID array. Each hard drive is mirrored onto a secondary backup drive as a first line of defence in the event of disk failure.
Alongside this, each account is backed up on the server on a daily basis, with 3 x backups available in the event of anything going pear-shaped on the server. Each backup is copied the following day to off-site, externally based cloud servers, where they’re stored for a fortnight. Finally, a local off-site backup is taken every fortnight, which is stored for up to a year.
As a recent backup to these backups, we also run an additional private server, which is operational but empty. It exists solely as an extra level of redundancy should an entire server suffer catastrophic failure. If all else fails, we can clone any of our live public servers onto this backup and have a clone of any live server back up and running as quickly and efficiently as possible.
Essential server maintenance & security
From time to time, issues crop up with servers which need to be managed. We do this as part of the service to our clients, so you don’t have to worry about it.
For instance: In 2017, Google announced that non-secure sites (http instead of https) would be marked with a ‘This website is not secure’ alert in Chrome. We put together an internal strategy and spent the next couple of weeks upgrading all our hosting client sites to use https – without any work required from any client.
Furthermore, we actively monitor security channels to ensure that WordPress updates are automatically installed, and monitor all accounts for insecure plugins or activity which suggests an account may have been compromised.
Whenever we have to provide maintenance which may lead to a disruption in service, we schedule this outside of working hours to ensure minimal issues or downtime for clients – typically working nightshifts and running updates in the early hours of the morning.
DNS & related domain services
Finally, we look after client domain names, registrations, contacts, and DNS (the process which connects yourdomain.com to our server, plus email and related online services). You don’t have to worry about renewing domain names, or ensuring DNS records are valid, because we manage the whole process for you.
One final takeaway
It should be noted that we do work with some clients who choose to self-host their websites: indeed, for a few clients, this does make sound financial and business sense for them. The test as to whether this is the right option for you is to check over that you’re confident that your organisation has the understanding and resources required to manage the following:
- Server configuration – making sure your server supports your site requirements
- Website security – ensuring that automatic updates are possible, and monitoring for third-party security alerts
- Backups – ensuring you’ve got a strategy in place if there’s an issue with the site
For the typical self-hosted website, we would recommend putting aside at least a couple of hours every month to make sure that your site is live, managed and secure.
Or, of course, consider letting us do it for you…