A question I get asked quite regularly is “I want to move away from my current hosting company, where should I move to?”.
There are several factors to consider here, some may seem obvious, and others you may not have realised.
Where is my audience?
This is an important question to ask yourself for a couple of reasons.
Firstly, distance. How far away are your host’s servers from your intended audience? It is best to pick a hosting company with nearby servers, ideally in the same country. This can help significantly with your site’s load time for the visitor as their connection doesn’t have to travel long distances. Take for example, this map of under sea cables. Most of the big hosting companies you would have heard of like GoDaddy, Bluehost and Hostgator, have the bulk of their servers in the US, which, as you can see on the diagram, is pretty far away.
This is why I always recommend to look at Australian hosting companies for websites with primarily Australian audiences.
“Yeah but I could just slap a CDN on it”, (you can read more about CDN’s here) is a phrase I get from time to time from techies, which may very well work in some instances, but it doesn’t necessarily resolve these other reasons for going local:
- Support is in the same timezone as you
- You are protected by the same local business laws that you are familiar with
- Your data is stored inside the country
What is my technical knowledge?
Heard the phrase “Pay peanuts, get monkeys”? From my experience with a vast array of hosting companies, this is very true. If you’re not a technical person who can do your own troubleshooting and tech maintenance, then you’ll probably want to shop for a host who is rated well for their support, which in most cases will cost a bit more than the $1.99 companies.
Sure you could sign up to a $3.50/month Economy plan with Crazy Domains to save a few dollars, which is what we did for Mel’s photography website several years ago before I knew what I was doing. Until one day we woke up to no website. We contacted support to request they restore a backup, as this was an included feature in the plan, and funnily enough “oh sorry sir, the backups haven’t been working”….😣
So when you consider that is a real possibility, and you factor in many hours trying to recover the content that was on the website from several different places, and then re-build the site (or pay someone else to), is it still worth saving a few dollars?
Obviously if that happened today, I wouuld have my own backups I could go back to, but back then, my technical knowledge was limited and it cost me/us.
What I’m trying to say is, if you have the knowledge to know exactly what you’re getting, and more importantly, what you’re NOT getting, then you might be able to get away with cheap as chips hosting. If not though, it’s worth paying that little bit more for a good hosting company that also comes with peace-of-mind.
How important is my website?
Obviously your website is important, but what I’m getting at here is, how much would it effect you if your site was to go offline for 2 hours during a business day? Will you miss out on a lot of valuable traffic? Will you miss out on potential leads through your contact form? Will you lose sales through your online shop? What if your website was really slow, would potential customers just give up and go elsewhere?
If any of those circumstances were to happen, would it still be worthwhile saving $150 on hosting that year?
So Who Should I Choose?
This isn’t one of those biased articles where I shove a whole lot of affiliate links in here. It’s to help you.
This is by no means an exhaustive list of every Australian hosting company, just some hosts I have had experience with over the years. I’m sure there are some others out there that I’ve never heard of.
Some decent ones I’ve used or heard good things about:
- Conetix – [Aus Based]
- VentraIP / Zuver / Synergy Wholesale – [Aus Based]
- Cloudways – [Aus Servers via Vultr, AWS, GCP] – [WordPress only] – [A little tech knowledge needed]
Hosts I would avoid: (*They’re fine for registering domain names)
- CrazyDomains* – [Aus Based]
- NetRegistry / MelbourneIT / Uber Global – [Aus Based]
- Anything owned by EIG (incl Bluehost, HostGator, Site5 and many others)
Chances are, you’ll see a lot of ads and reviews praising companies like Bluehost and HostGator, but it’s almost always because they have quite decent afilliate programs and marketing budgets.