By Prashant Telang , Director TransPacific Software
Having a great e-commerce website without a good hosting server is like having a Bugatti without wheels .My advice don't cut corners with hosting package.
TransPacific Software creates top end ecommerce websites for diamond and Jewellery Industry. These are built on frameworks like Magento, Woocommerce, OpenCart, Prestashop etc. A good hosting package makes them fast, SEO friendly, secure and with almost 100% uptime.
How to select your hosting provider:
First and the foremost; from which region you expect maximum visitors ? Mostly jewellery companies receive buyers from the same geographical area where their brick and mortar showrooms and offices are located.Let's say you are operating from 47th st.Manhattan New York then your first preference should be finding the best hosting provider with data center in NY / NJ region. If not the nearest one. This will help the fastest web page delivery to the maximum number of visitors
My personal suggestion: always go with the established players (and not with next door friendly hosting reseller).
Which server package to select?
OS for server
Broadly this can be divided into windows and Linux OS based servers. Linux based servers are cheaper and ideal choice for open source e-commerce platforms like Magento, Woocommerce, Opencart.
Choice of the server OS entirely depends on which e-commerce framework you are using and your developer's choice. We generally suggest Linux with CentOS/ Ubuntu flavour for Magento, OpenCart,...
Which Type of Hosting?
This is the most important aspect in server selection. Essentially there are three types
1. Shared Hosting: the cheapest once
2. VPS (Virtual Private servers): we recommend it the most
3. Dedicated co-hosted servers: Only for large enterprises
For a diamond jewellery e-commerce website; shared hosting is a strict NO.
Shared hostings are the cheapest once and the most feeble. They are good for only personal blog sites.
VPS server is the most recommended by TransPacific Software as they are powerful and priced reasonably. VPS mimic dedicated servers with dedicated resources. Within VPS you will find various packages. We recommend VPS servers with at least 6GB RAM . (great if you can afford is 8GB RAM) . If CPU selection is offered go for at least 3 CPU core.
Dedicated servers are extremely expensive and the most powerful. We would recommend it as an upgrade option to scale up your e-commerce operations.
Which Addons to buy?
While booking the server you will find many add-ons offered at additional cost Here are our recommendations:
Managed/Unmanaged: Managed means hosting company manages your server actively. However, managed services are extremely expensive. Check with your developers If they have the capability to manage the server. If they have; go for the unmanaged server.
Website security package: I don't recommend it until your website is stable and getting good traffic; which will take a while.
Backup plan: It's important to have auto back up of the website done at a pre-configured interval. However, I would suggest it be purchased later when your website is in the production mode.
SSL certificate: A must for an e-commerce website. But you can also buy an SSL certificate from third party vendor If you find SSL provided by your hosting company expensive.
We recommend EV SSL over regular SSL.
Dedicated IP: Its required for installing the SSL. Buy it
WHM/Cpanel: Recommended. WHM is a server management software which seats above your raw server OS. It will cost you a bit but efficiency to manage your server is enhanced many folds. It also has built-in security and firewall to protect your server. We strongly recommend it
A typical VPS server we recommend for a Magento/Woocommerce/ Opencart e-commerce website
Atleast 3 core processor
Atleast 1 dedicated ip
Linux OS ( CentOS or Ubuntu)
What about platform-specific server offerings eg. Hosting for WordPress or Magento.
These offerings are nothing more than preconfigured hosting packages for a particular e-commerce platform. We don't recommend these. They are nothing more than sales gimmicks.
Watch out for pricing
Hosting providers have their bag of tricks to attract customers, for example, the listing price for a 6GB VPS server may show $47/month and in the fine print it will read: for two years advance payment" It could be as high as $75/month if you go for a 3 months duration. So prior to booking the hosting package double check and read the fine print
Should I go for Amazon AWS?
Amazon Web Services are remote computing services and one of its sub-services is EC2 (hosting). It's a generation ahead of any other regular hosting services. However, TransPacific Software Doesn't recommend it during the initial phase of the development.
1) Amazon bills you on " pay for what you use". So you don't know how much you will be billed for; as during initial development phase the data transfer may be high.
2) You will require expert AWS system administer. TransPacific Software super specialises in AWS but in general, very few developers have any deep expertise in AWS.
3) AWS has a free tier but it's not of much use for jewellery e-commerce websites. You require at least a medium EC2 instance to start with.
Go for AWS (website migration) when your website is stable on a regular hosting package and you have an idea on how much bandwidth it is consuming per day. Ensure that your development team has a high level of expertise in managing AWS.
Some of the Hosting providers TransPacific Software worked with and found their services satisfactory with at least 97% server uptime. (Note that TransPacific Software is not affiliated to any of these)