It’s easy to overlook the importance of hosting when choosing a Council website provider. The internet presents many offers of hosting at various price points and with various features. Hosting companies offer cloud, shared, dedicated and managed hosting and unless you’re aware of the industry terminology, it can all get a little overwhelming.
The majority of hosting that you’ll see offered online is for shared hosting. This ranges from around £30 per year to £200 per year typically and is commonly used by small businesses as it suits their needs.
What is shared hosting?
Imagine renting a room within a huge apartment block, One where each floor shares a bathroom and kitchen. This is similar to shared hosting. You’re essentially given a small amount of disk space on a server that is shared with hundreds if not thousands of other websites.
The one great feature of this is as we’ve already mentioned, it’s cheap. The disadvantages however are so heavily stacked that it’s simply not a tenable option for a local authority website. Each website shares the resources such as memory, CPU and so on, this shouldn’t be too much of a problem unless of course there are some unsavoury websites on the same server, which, given their affordability, is often the case.
You can, and most probably will, be in the same neighbourhood as some websites that you wouldn’t want your grandmother to see. This may cause many problems such as high traffic, which will cause the other websites to run slowly but worse, it could very well end up causing the server to be blacklisted meaning reduced visibility for all the websites on that server. Another issue can arise when neighbouring websites on the server aren’t maintained. If software isn’t kept up to date then websites can be easily targeted by hackers and malicious scripts. Imagine having intruders in the apartment next to you and worrying that they’ll soon be in your apartment rifling through your belongings. This is the harsh reality of public shared hosting.
A Victim Of Shared Hosting
We were recently contacted by a Parish Council who had a website from a different supplier. It was no longer compliant or easy to use but more worryingly, the website was experiencing some visibility issues. On investigation, we discovered that the website was on cheap overseas shared hosting and in amongst its neighbours were some dubious websites, a few of which were already causing issues.
The Council in question admitted that they thought that they were doing the right thing by seeking value for money and that they had no idea of the consequences. We’re happy to report that at the time of writing this article, they have just gone live with their new website, created and hosted by us. We’ve redacted the name of the Council concerned.
We have our own dedicated servers. They only host local authority websites. What’s more, they only host local authority websites that we created and that we maintain.
Our servers are hosted in a state of the art data centre in Leeds, UK. Each evening they are automatically backed up to an off site server. This is to protect against a total disaster situation. What this means is that if our data centre is unlucky enough to have a fire or flood, then the backups are available off site so that within a few hours, we can have new servers up and running with a full back up restore in place. This is something you simply don’t get with typical shared hosting.
Our servers are protected by multiple layers of security. All traffic to the server is first passed through an external Fortigate firewall server. This sniffs out malicious patterns of traffic factoring in things such as geographical location and known bad bots. This is done in milliseconds. From there the traffic has to pass through a further three layers of security, each one designed to protect the integrity of our clients websites and data. With world conflicts as prominent as they are, we have features in place to mitigate against denial of service attacks. These layers of security filter out thousands of potential violations each day. Again, something you simply don’t get on cheap shared hosting.
Our servers are automatically scanned for any malicious code and if any is found it is immediately quarantined. Additionally, each day, the software that runs our clients websites is matched against the repository to check if any updates are available and if so, they are automatically applied.
To go back to our earlier analogy. Hosting on our servers is like living in a gated community along with other local authority sites with 24 hour elite security on site amidst immaculately maintained grounds.
As the cherry on top, we offer a technical support service to all our Council clients which is included in our annual fee. This support service gives you the peace of mind to know that you can contact us with any issue and speak to someone in the UK at any given time. We aim to answer support queries within the hour and sooner in most cases. We also ensure that all the website software is updated on your behalf at regular intervals.
So whilst our annual fee may seem a little more expensive than some that you’ve seen on offer online, as we’ve shown, it’s like comparing a hostel to a five star hotel, with the security, service and quality that you’d expect from both. NetWise are committed to being the best provider of Council websites and email in the UK.