It can get quite confusing and complex when trying to understand the web hosting landscape. At Rock Paper Digital we try and simplify that for our clients.
In this post we will look at the differences between what a web host provides and what Rock Paper Digital provides it’s clients through our Website Care Plans.
What is Hosting?
Hosting companies typically tend to provide two general services, Web Hosting and Email Hosting. In addition they may provide Domain functionality too.
In simple terms Web Hosting is typically disk space and CPU allocation on one of their servers to allow you to place your website so others can access it. Email Hosting is typically similar but provides functionality to host emails and let you access them from a number of devices.
But I’m used to just paying for hosting
A lot of our clients who’ve owned a website for 10+ years have only been used to paying for hosting and never worried about maintenance of software or security. That’s because in the ye olde days of basic HTML websites, there was only static code sitting on the server, no databases or moving parts.
In today’s age, the benefits of WordPress means you can edit content right there and then, you don’t need to make changes in Dreamweaver on your PC upload the files via FTP for the rest of the world to see. That flexibility and benefit come at a small cost. Like all software, the software that delivers that benefit that makes up WordPress needs to be kept up to date.
Why does software need to be kept up to date?
In the earlier days of the internet, websites were built using static HTML code by developers. This meant that any updates to the content, needed to be coded by a developer.
The advance of Content Management Systems such as WordPress have meant that end users can update their site content without needing to engage a developer.
Of course the Content Management System is application software. As we’ve come to expect (Microsoft Windows, iOS, etc), software gets updated as they find and fix bugs and release new features.
Whilst most web hosting companies will backup your site, they may only back it up on a monthly or weekly basis – not daily. They may not move the backups to different servers, or allow you to access them should they go bust. It is imperative you have access to your backups without needing the hosting company.
If your site gets infected with malware or a security hole is identified and an attacker takes advantage of this security loophole it is possible that your site could become corrupt. If you don’t have a backup of your site to be able to restore you unfortunately need to recreate the site from scratch. If you do have a backup and it’s on the same server as your website it may also be corrupt.
It is paramount that all of your backups are stored on a different server to that of your website. You can use offsite storage such as Dropbox, Google Drive, Amazon S3 or even traditional FTP.
Rock Paper Digital store your backups offsite on AmazonS3 and can provide you access to them. Your web host will store their backups on their servers.
To ensure that’s your offsite backups are indeed effective they need to be tested from time to time to ensure that in the event of a restore, it will be successful.
Rock Paper Digital test your backups to ensure they work. Your web host won’t test their backups.
Wordpress Software Updates
As with all software these days, it needs to be kept up-to-date to keep it safe and secure from any any known vulnerabilities.
In 2016, there have been twelve updates to the WordPress software. These include new features as well as bug fixes and security updates.
Whilst some web hosts will automatically update the version of WordPress on your site, how do you know everything is still going to work?
Rock Paper Digital can test WordPress updates on a clone of your site before doing it on your LIVE site. Your web host won’t test the updates on a copy of your site before updating the software.
You should ensure your website is running the latest version of software in order to remain secure.
As with all software updates it’s advisable to have a backup before replying any updates so that in the event of a failure you can restore.
WordPress Plugin Updates
Similarly WordPress plugins are updated to ensure compatibility to WordPress core software as well as for their own security and bug fixes.
Rock Paper Digital can test WordPress plugin updates on a clone of your site before doing it on your LIVE site. Your web host won’t test the updates on a copy of your site before updating the plugin software.
The best way to keep your website safe is to monitor it for vulnerabilities.
Rock Paper Digital can do this against our database of known vulnerabilities which is updated daily. Not all web hosts monitor their servers for vulnerabilities in software installed on them.
If your site reports against any vulnerabilities we can take the necessary steps to ensure we protect it immediately.
WordPress Training Videos
If you’ve ever wanted to know how to achieve something in the backend of the WordPress dashboard, and were overwhelmed with the plethora of choice on YouTube, we have a solution for you.
Rock Paper Digital provides access to our WordPress Training Videos from within your account. Your web host won’t provide video training for WordPress.
Typically the only way you’ll know if your web host is having issues and your website is down is that you’ve tried to visit it and it’s not working.
Rock Paper Digital monitor all our clients websites every few minutes and get informed (SMS/email) immediately if the site becomes unavailable. We can then investigate and identify what is the cause. Your web host may know their server is down, but they won’t necessarily inform you that your website is down.
Unlimited Support Tasks
Our Enterprise plan provides clients with the ability to request unlimited support tasks that take < 30 mins each. This could be to provide content updates, adding an SSL certificate, or advice such as SEO best practices.
In summary your web hosting company provides disk space and CPU power for your website at scale. They host thousands of client sites.
Rock Paper Digital provide individualised personal support and maintenance for your website.
*Support Tasks are available on Business & Enterprise Plans.
Much like a car requires servicing once or twice a year, your website needs to be maintained. You can of course do the servicing yourself via the Admin account in WordPress, or you can let us look after the support and maintenance for you.