Do You Really Own Your Website?
Let’s get down to the million dollar question. Do you own or rent your website? Of course I do! I paid a lot of money for someone to create it. Well, I’m sure it’s a great site, but what if you have to move it to another server? Can you take it with you? Or, what if you put your business on hold? Can someone send you your files? If you don’t know the answer to this question, it’s important to ask whoever is hosting or managing it.
Hosted Solutions vs Traditional Hosting
So, most people don’t know this but there’s actually many two different ways to host your site. The first is, the traditional hosting model, which means some company lets you rent space on their servers for a monthly fee. The second is what’s called Hosted Solutions, which means a company not only rents you space on their server but also the platform to build your website on. Confused? Don’t worry, let me explain.
Let’s start by talking about Hosted Solutions, which thanks to great marketing, has become a very popular way people are creating websites. These are your Wix, Shopify, and other sites like this. You’ve seen the commercials. “For $30 dollars a month you can be up and running today.”
Hosted Solutions pretty much rent you their platform. You can change it up, make it look very pretty, but at the end, if you leave, you can’t take it with you. Yup! You are pretty much renting your website. It’s just like renting a car or an apartment. No matter how much time, money, effort you invest in building it up, it’s never going to be yours.
Traditional Hosting is a little different. You rent space on a server, you upload your site, and it’s found a new home. And guess what? When you decide to move, you can take your site with you. All you need is a quick backup and that’s it.
Which One Is Right For Me?
Well, having been doing this a while, I always tell my clients that it’s always better to own then rent your website as long as you’re “in it to win it”. In other words, you have to think of your site as an asset and a long term investment. If you’re not sure if things are going to work out, I would recommend you start off with a hosted solution. After all, when you’re done, you just cancel and it all goes away.
Don’t get me wrong, there are times when you do want a hosted solution. For example, lets say your business requires very special or specific features on your site or a lot of customization. Building it yourself may take too long or consume too many resources. For example, most hotels outsource their websites to companies that specialize in building hotel sites that allow guests to checkin, pay for rooms, etc. Most hotels do not have an IT staff to manage their site and therefor outsource it. And trust me, these guys are not paying $20 / month. They are paying thousands if not tens of thousands of dollars a month in maintenance fees.
Sure, owning your website is like owning a house, it requires a lot of maintenance. Either you hire someone or you do it yourself. But, at the end it’s yours.
Have you ever had a landlord? Well, most of us have and as you know if you’re renting, your landlord pretty much sets the rules. It’s the same thing in Hosted Solutions, where the vendor says what you can and can’t do. Unlike traditional hosting, where you’re pretty much renting a piece of land or space and you can do what ever you want in your space. This is a huge advantage that helps people decide which choice is best for them.
Ok, so when deciding to buy into a Hosted Solution or Traditional Hosting, make sure you ask yourself these four questions:
- Do I want to own or rent my site?
- Am I committed to owning a site?
- How much time do I have?
- Who invented peanut butter and jelly sandwiches?
The reality is that no matter what solution you choose, make sure its the right one for you. Don’t worry about what the other kids are doing. Focus on your short and long term business goals. Taking this approach will allow you to select the best options that will best align with your business.
Edgar is the founder and CEO of Stienetic, a software development and marketing company. He’s passionate about business and technology. In his free time, he volunteers teaching programming to young people.