Choosing the best Umbraco hosting for your website can prove a challenging task, especially if you’re not a web developer and have a business to run. Finding the time to understand much of the technical jargon many Umbraco hosting companies will use can make it hard to decide which options are best. What exactly is ‘managed hosting’?’ What is uptime and what is meant by reliability? Here, we give you the information you need in plain English so you have the tools to make sense of it all.

What is hosting?

If you have a website, it needs to be ‘hosted’, meaning a copy of your site is available on a server when someone accesses it through the web. It’s probably easiest to consider your hosting like renting a business premises or retail shop. There will be good and bad locations to run your business from and you are free to move anytime once your lease is up. You can see how choosing an office or shop might make or break a business depending on location, accessibility, and other factors. We encourage you to think about your website hosting in the same way.

Often price will be one of the main factors (if not the only factor) many companies will use when choosing an Umbraco hosting company. But you will find here how this can be a false economy and how to choose the best Umbraco hosting (i.e. us!) for your website

What is managed Umbraco hosting, how does it differ from regular hosting?

When people say managed Umbraco hosting they are implying the service will look after their Umbraco application as well as the hosting itself. This looking after usually involves the ‘day-to-day’ housekeeping tasks of the website itself, not just the hosting.

If a 'hotfix' for Umbraco is released, this is usually due to a new security flaw being discovered that needs patching and usually immediately! Our managed Umbraco hosting service will automatically make this update for you. Similarly, if your server starts running out of disk space they will likely clear this for you too.

These may sound like tasks that can be sorted out whenever there is time, but some of these are time critical and it's essential they are resolved.

If a security flaw is found in a plugin, it’s a bit like discovering an outsider can get in through a window in your business, not a good idea for neither you or us!

  • Security You’ve likely already read news stories about websites that have been successfully attacked by hackers and the problems this can cause. In general, ASP.NET is extremely secure, but very occasionally, holes can be discovered in some of the underlying code and web services Umbraco uses. Updates for Umbraco are occasionally released which fix these issues and applying these quickly is vital for making sure nobody has a chance to exploit this security flaw in the meantime.

    A good managed Umbraco hosting company will manage these tasks for you and, where necessary, patch and upgrade anything that is required.  Due to the level of complexity of Umbraco web applications, for most, it will be much cheaper and simple in the long run to allow people who do this every day to manage it, as this is also likely to be less risky.

  • Speed Both website speed and page load speed are likely some of the more important factors and yet it may not seem so at first. The speed your pages load will now influence where you rank in the search engines but also has a big bearing on how usable the end customers find your website.

    Umbraco websites are technically fairly complex under the hood, and depending on how your website is built, you may find some pages much faster than others. How do you speed up those pages that are slow?

    Having a more powerful computer with more resources host your website will help, but also optimising both the code and how the site works will likely offer huge benefits. Because a lot of these tasks require knowledge of Umbraco, these are further reasons why you should consider a managed Umbraco hosting service.

  • Uptime and reliability If anything happens which puts your website offline, it would be like having to shut your shop temporarily due to concerns or issues with the facilities. Not only does it mean no more business that day, but may lead people to question whether this is permanent and how safe it is to do business with you in future. This can actually harm your company’s credibility. In this same way, the search engines will begin moving any offline websites down the rankings until they disappear entirely (which can happen in extreme cases of particularly unreliable hosting).

    When hosting companies quotes ‘uptime’ figures these are usually percentages that reflect ‘the relative amount of time your website is online vs any outages based on an average of the service provided so far’. The higher this is, the better. Even more helpful that this, is if the Umbraco host has uptime monitoring. Uptime monitoring will usually test your website every minute of each day to check it’s still online and running nicely.

  • Support expertise is a bit like insurance: it’s nice to have around when things don’t go as you expect, but you also hope to never have to use it! Even with the best of hosts, a great website can experience temporary outages. When this happens, you really want to get back up and running as soon as possible. This means ensuring you have the best expertise on hand to put things right. The right Umbraco hosting expertise should also be able to advise on future decisions you may need to make regarding your Umbraco hosting as your business and website grows.

  • Scalability is often overlooked, but nonetheless is vital to allow your website room to grow with your business. As your number of visitors gradually increases, your database gets filled with more enquiries and signups you may need to revisit any (or each) of these points to consider whether your Umbraco hosting is still suitable and whether it’s time to move Umbraco hosting providers. While your website may have been fast and reliable in the early days, having more pages, and more users may mean it is now quite slow. Most good Umbraco hosting providers will have multiple tiers – the higher ones with much greater capabilities to deal with large volumes of traffic and the need for more resources for your website.

  • Price would appear to be the most important factor many companies use when deciding which Umbraco host to use. We put this one last because, while it may be tempting to use this metric the most, your hosting also has to be fit for purpose.

    If, by the time you have ticked off the other points (above) – you can find a good price, then you have probably found the best Umbraco hosting for you.

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