Most web design companies offer a cheap hosting service once your website has been completed. But very few offer a website management and support service.
So what's the difference? And which should you choose?
The first thing to consider is backups.
It doesn't matter how good the server is, hardware fails.
And when it does, you want to be sure that the hosting company have a backup that they can just restore onto a new server and have everything up and running again as quickly as possible.
Pretty much any hosting service should provide this.
But it's still important to check.
In another company that a run, a former web hosting company was maintaining daily backups. But what we didn't know was that the backups were being stored on the same server. So when the server went down, they lost the backups too. All they had was a 3 month old backup that had been moved to another server for long term storage.
If we hadn't been maintaining our own backups too, we'd have lost 3 months work and put the company in jeopardy.
Needless to say, we moved to an alternative hosting provider very shortly after that.
It's also important to verify what type of backup is being maintianed by the hosting company. Some hosting companies only keep a "server backup". This is a complete backup of the whole server which can be restored as a single block onto a new server if they need to.
But it doesn't give access to individual websites, or individual pages. It's for the hosting company's emergency purposes, not yours. So if your website is hacked, or corrupted, or if you just accidentally delete some files, you're on your own. There's just no access to the individual parts of the backup, just the whole server backup as one single unit.
In that case, you also need to be maintaining your own backups.
A website management service takes care of this for you. A website management service should be maintaining at least a daily backup of your website which can be restored on request.
All hosting companies will do their best to maintain the security and integrity of their servers.
But they won't help you to maintain the security of your website. If your website is hacked, or even if it just looks like it's been hacked, most hosting companies will just switch off your website completely, in order to protect their server, and their other customers.
It's up to you to fix your website.
A website management service takes care of the security aspects of your website too.
A website management service will not only maintain good security procedures in the first place, but will help you to recover your website, should the worst happen.
Upgrades and security patching
When your website is created, it will be using various versions of different software packages (hopefully the latest versions!). When your website goes live, a hosting service will not upgrade this software.
So what? Why does it need upgrading?
Upgrading is not just about getting the newest and latest features (which is irrelevant if you don't need them). The single most important reason to upgrade is to prevent your website being hacked.
It doesn't matter what software you use for your website, it cannot be guaranteed to be 100% bug free. Security holes are found all of the time. Good software is defined by how few security holes there are, but by how quickly they're fixed!
You need to make sure that all security upgrades and patches are applied to your website software as soon as possible. Installing a patch or upgrade is normally just a 5 minute job. But recovering a hacked website can take days, and can cost hundreds, or thousands, of pounds to repair. And that's before you consider the financial damage that the hacking itself might have done.
A website management service takes care of this for you.
If you are updating your website, at some point you will need some technical support.
We hear many web designers say things like "The software that we use is so simple you won't need support".
That's just not true.
What they're really saying is "We have no interest in answering your phone calls and emails when you need help. Our job here is finished".
All software throws up things unexpectedly. People always have ideas for doing something slightly differently on their website and need to find out how.
A good website management service will provide you with the technical support to help you to do what you need to do with your website.
So which should you choose?
Well, if you are confident maintaining and restoring your own website backups; and if you have the technical expertise to continually upgrade your website software and manually installing security patches; and if you have a good idea of basic IT security practices; and you are experienced and confident using website software, and can find your own answers to any questions that you may have; then a simple hosting service will be adequate.
However, if the reason that you hired a web designer in the first place is because your don't know how to, or don't want to do any of this, then you need a proper website management service.
OpenGlobal do not offer a hosting-only service because it just creates ambiguity, and leads to problems and unhappy customers. If you want the peace of mind that a professional website management service can bring, contact us today on 0845 269 9624.