Why Another Web Hosting Company?
With probably over 100 different companies in New Zealand that provide web hosting services, you may wonder why we exist at all. Here's our story: Web design became a significant part of our offerings as a software development firm. Naturally, these sites needed hosting. We used to simply arrange these services for our clients with other web hosting services. Since, many of our clients were surprised at the ongoing costs associated with web hosting (typically between $20 and $40/month), we thought we would look into doing the hosting ourselves and pass the savings onto them.
The Whole Truth About Web Hosting
We want to tell you a few things about web hosting that most our competitors would not want you to know. The truth is, web hosting isn't all that hard (this also explains why there are so many web hosting companies!). Essentially, all that it involves is a server (a fancy term for a PC connected to a network), a very fast internet connection, and some web hosting software. The server is seldomly located on the premises of the web hosting company itself and are instead co-located in a data center. Data centers are physically located in close proximity to the "central nervous system" of the internet and accordingly provide extremely fast, reliable internet connectivity that simply cannot be provided in most places (or at least not without massive expense). Data centers also provide a safe location for the server, automatic generator backup in the event of a power failure, and are under constant surveillance.
So, once the server has been set up, all the web hosting company needs to do is: (a) pay their monthly bill to the data center, (b) set up accounts for new users, (c) help users with any technical difficulties, and (d) make sure that the server is secure and humming along, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
So, why are most web hosting services so expensive?
The web hosting industry is different to many other industries in that the "you pay for what you get" principle really doesn't apply. There are several reasons why this is so:
- ISPs can charge considerably more than dedicated web hosting providers (for what are often very minimalist services), simply because their customers will tend to go with them by default, rather than shopping around.
- Existing web hosting companies keep their prices static, despite the considerable decline in their data center and other ongoing costs. Web hosting companies take advantage of the fact that customers tend not to shift their websites from one company to another. So although their prices may well have been reasonable a few years ago, chances are they're charging well above the market rate now.
- Marketing. Some companies just have a really nice way of saying that their 99.5% uptime is better or more reliable than somebody elses. The truth is there will be precious little difference in perceived uptime between the majority of web hosting providers (bear-in-mind, there are a few "cowboy" hosting operatings lurking around that can have appalling periods of downtime).
Okay, what are the differences between one web hosting company and another?
Despite the fact that most web hosting companies are run effectively in exactly the same way, there are still some significant differences between one and another.
- Price (see above).
- Speed of the internet connection. Although most companies will be able to tout Tier-1 internet connectivity (a direct connection to the fibre optic backbone), the actual speed that users accessing that server experience is entirely dependent on how many other users are accessing it at the same time (much like when you share your internet access at home across more than one computer). The only way you can really test this, is by actually comparing the speed that a file of the same size downloads from different servers - preferably from several independent high speed connections.
- Speed of the server itself. This really only matters if your website provides any functions that require computation, such as database queries.
- Features. Although most new web hosting companies offer much the same features, many of the older web hosting services that haven't upgraded their server's software for sometime, will tend not to offer features such as webmail access, spam filtering, advanced website statistics, chat rooms and forums.
- Support. This is probably the single biggest difference between providers and also the most difficult to ascertain before signing up. Most users require some assistance at one point or another, and the difference between a 1-3 hour response time and a 1-3 day response time can make or break the relationship with your web host. If you don't have a word-of-mouth recommendation for a potential web host, we'd advise dropping them a quick question and gauge the quality and speed of the response you receive for yourself.
Beware The Reseller.
A relatively recent advent in the web hosting business, is the concept of "resellers". Web hosting software has become sufficiently sophisticated to allow the production of specialised ("Reseller") accounts that allow a user to create new accounts. The Reseller typically purchases a block of disk space and bandwidth from the owner of the server, and is then able to create new accounts and sell these on. Without the time and monetary investment required for their own server, the Reseller is able to sell accounts on at remarkably low prices and still be able to profit. Although this may sound innocent enough, there are some not-so-obvious pitfalls to working with a Reseller:
- Lack of Control. The Reseller does not have the same level of control that the administrator of the server has. Consequently, if there are any complications with an account, chances are the Reseller cannot resolve them personally. Instead, they need to go via the server's administrator. Suddenly, the weakest link in the chain shifts from the Reseller to some other non-descript entity that the customer has no direct contact with. Invariably, this leads to an extra degree of uncertainty and delay when it comes to solving problems.
- Server overloading. Since the owner of the server is in fact selling accounts that sell accounts, it becomes extremely difficult for the owner of the server to keep track of the accounts on the server. Account numbers (per server) can swell into the thousands very rapidly, resulting in sudden decreases in performance for the users.
- Long term unsustainability. Reseller accounts are big business in the web hosting world. Consequently, this field has become extremely competitive, and there are many Reseller accounts on offer today that are simply not sustainable over the long term. The end product of this will be either (a) the parent web hosting company going out of business, (b) the Reseller becoming forced to change their business plan (i.e. prices) due to changes to their own conditions, or (c) a marked deterioration of service to the Reseller (and ultimately the customer).
We're not trying to say that Reseller accounts are bad news - there are web hosts selling reselling accounts under responsible criteria (so as to minimise the pitfalls listed above). Web designers often opt for Reseller accounts as it can be a very convenient way of managing the accounts for their clients. What we are saying is that, as the customer, you should be aware of the means by which your web host is providing you with their promised service and consequently how this may impact on the service that you receive.
How is The Kiwi Web Hosting Company different?
Since setting up just another run-of-the-mill web hosting service seemed rather pointless to us, we wanted to do things differently and better than our competitors. Here are a few things we do:
- $1-A-Week Web Hosting. Downright affordable web hosting. Finally, practically anyone can have their own website.
- Darn fast. We aren't going to overload our servers. We aim to maintain ultra-speedy connections for visitors to your website. We're pretty confident our servers connectivity are amongst the fastest available in New Zealand.
- Charming Customer Service. More than just a speedy response, we're just plain nice people. We want to help people. We like doing it. Still not buying it? Check out some of the we have received from our clients over the past few months.
- We Own Our Own Servers. We realise most of you thought this would be a given, but believe us it isn't. Many low-cost web hosting services do not own their own servers (see the pitfalls above).
If you have any questions about The Kiwi Web Hosting Company, please do not hesitate to. For some background on The Kiwi Web Hosting, please refer to our page.
Tel: 0800 14 36 36, Email: .
The Kiwi Web Hosting Company is a trademark of Vocus Group NZ, and is a operated by Vocus Communications