Every time there is a recession or an economic downturn, you see a flurry of articles in both the business and general press about companies and individuals learning how to manage money better. While some articles get very specific about accounting and management practices that are supposed to make you a better money manager, others are more general in their approach and concentrate on common sense ways to stop wasteful practices. Combining both approaches also works well, and can begin with a complete review of all spending and an analysis of what that money is actually buying you.
This is very important to do in regards to your company’s technology spending, whether it’s on computers, offsite storage, network management or Web site hosting. Hosting? Hosting is cheap now, so why bother? If you asked that question, you just revealed a mindset that can get you in big trouble. Every wrongly spent cent is a strike against you and your company, and small overpayments have a way of looming large when you look at them over the course of a year or more. If you consider what has happened to hosting costs over the last few years because of technological progress, you can actually see what the progress is worth. Hosting is getting less costly all the time.
From 1996 to 2005 (ten years), the cost of hosting fell dramatically. Instead of low-end plans at $49 per month, you had so-called unlimited plans at one-tenth that cost. Looking at just the dollar amount, you would think that hosting has not gotten less expensive since 2005 but, in fact, it has. The changes have come in the definition of certain terms (unlimited, bandwidth, transfer, etc.), and the effective cost reduction has continued with the same amount of velocity as it had at the end of the last century/millennium.
Rather than gawk at the low prices, you need to find out just what it costs, in reality, for a high quality, professional, dependable host. The advertised price needs to be defined in terms of the real way you will use the site, so you need to factor in all the setup fees, overage fees, upgrade costs, extra charges for databases and media streaming, etc. You can easily end up paying more for the low-end, low-cost-but-no-extras plan than you would have for a more inclusive one. This is why you need to read everything, every single word, when you review your hosting plan (quarterly or biannually, at least).
If you go through all the comparison charts, you will get a picture of not only how your plan compares to others, but how it treats you, as well. Do you get charged fees for going over monthly limits? Is everything clearly explained and defined? Do you see a small asterisk that leads you to a statement like “setup fee required,” without there being a dollar amount there? These are all clues that you may be paying more than you even know for your hosting service. The fact is, this is the sort of plan review you should have done when you first chose a plan, but as long as you are doing it now, before more time rolls by to the sound of falling coins, you are doing better than you were.
If the terms are not defined well, then you need to ask what they mean. Even the term ‘unlimited’ does not always mean what you think it means. Some hosting providers define the term in relation to what are called typical usage patterns, so there really is a finite limit to it after all. If your Web site takes off and becomes more popular than other sites its size, you will blow right through that typical usage pattern number and possibly end paying extra for being successful. Be sure to find out what unlimited means, as well as any other terms that are key to your purchase.
Is a secure server included? Do you get a good site management tool, like cPanel, or are you stuck with some proprietary, stripped down Web page provided by the host? What exactly is in the deal? If you do not know, you are paying too much already. You should not be paying for a plan that you cannot define. This is not good business at any level, whether it costs $5 or $5,000 a month. The truth is, many firms have multiple sites, so small overpayments can add up in no time. There are plenty of great, legitimate hosting deals, and most firms are on the up and up. However, it is up to you to establish that to your own satisfaction. Not only can you save money by reviewing your hosting plan regularly, you will become far more expert at how hosting works, which is a clear benefit for you and your business, too.
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