Whether you’re an entrepreneur, small business owner, or hobbyist, chances are you want a website to show off your work. It’s 2023, after all. Fortunately, setting yourself up with one of the best web hosting providers is relatively straightforward. The challenging part is finding solutions for the many web hosting problems you can encounter when running your own website.
Don’t worry, we’re here to help. With over a decade of experience helping people find smarter ways to set up and manage websites, we know all about troubleshooting slow load speeds and what to do when you outgrow shared hosting plans. Our expert advice is backed not only by a team of researchers, but also the personal time and money we’ve put into our own websites, going even further back to the days of GeoCities.
We understand that you can’t afford for your website to fail and know why it’s important to act fast when you encounter problems with hosting your own website. A laggy site with regular downtime just isn’t going to impress Google, and for businesses in particular, ranking well in Google is crucial. Read on for details of the most common web hosting issues and how to quickly fix them.
Based on our latest investigations, the most common web hosting problems right now are:
- Downtime and Server Errors
- Slow Loading Speeds
- Security and PCI Compliance
- Limited Resources: Shared Hosting and High Traffic
- Lack of Help and Support
Scroll down for a closer look at each of these issues and some of the simplest solutions to keep your website running smoothly.
We’ve all been there: you think you’ve found the article that’s going to help you boss the office Fantasy league next season, but when you click the link all you see is a 503 error – server speak for the website or page you’re trying to access being offline.
This is also known as “downtime’” and it’s an absolute killer when it comes to establishing your website as a reliable one, both in the eyes of Google’s algorithm and your audience.
How To Fix It
The simplest way to combat downtime is to pick a web hosting provider that boasts a high amount of uptime. Most of the big guns we analyze in our comparison of web hosting services are up there above 99.9% for their uptime, which would seem to make choosing the right one pretty tough.
Fortunately, our experts have singled out DreamHost as the best web hosting provider for uptime, largely due to its 100% uptime guarantee. Compensation is generous, with a day’s free service for every hour you experience an outage. It’s a quality all around choice, scoring a respectable 4.4 out of 5 in our in-depth research.
Whatever provider you go with, you’ll need to make sure you monitor your uptime rigorously. All of the providers we recommend offer a form of uptime monitoring, though it may not be enabled by default, so it’s worth investigating. Once enabled, you’ll see your individual site’s statistics and you might also be able to set up notifications to alert yourself of any downtime, depending on your provider. For instance, with Bluehost, you get all the information you need in a central dashboard – once enabled, of course.
The only thing worse than an offline website is a slow one. Visitors will leave your site quickly if they’re not being given the information they want in a timely fashion. Website load time statistics are brutally clear – visitors hate slow-loading websites. Obviously, once they’re gone so is your potential sale or lead, but people who leave your website quickly also contribute to a poor “bounce rate” in Google’s eyes, which can affect how your site ranks.
How To Fix It
If you notice your website is loading slower than an uphill tram, the solution could be as simple as optimizing images. Image optimization can do wonders for your website’s performance!
You need to ensure that the file size of images that feature on your site are modest in size so they render quickly on the user’s screen. This is especially important for e-commerce websites, which are likely to host more images than most.
Bluehost recommends an ideal image size of no more than 500KB and an absolute maximum of 20MB for an individual image. To achieve this, it suggests you ensure image dimensions are between 1500 and 2500 pixels for desktops and are kept at 640 x 320 pixels for mobile devices.
You don’t need to hire a Photoshop whizz to do this, either: Kraken.io and Optimizilla are two great free online image resizing tools that can help. You can also install a WordPress plugin like Smush or Imagify to ensure that all images you look to add to your site are correctly resized before they’re uploaded.
As a general rule of thumb, you can compress original images down to 80% quality while still retaining hi-res standards.
Another plugin that comes highly recommended is Lazy Load by WP Rocket. This clever tool tells your website to delay loading images until the user is closer to the part of the page they’re appearing in, effectively allowing your site to prioritize the images it’s loading to improve performance.
Lastly, check that you’re running the latest version of whatever software your website is built on (WordPress, for example). This will help ensure that bugs aren’t holding back your site’s performance.
The security of your website is paramount to its success. For ecommerce businesses particularly, a security breach can be devastating. From your website going down and tanking your traffic, to lost profits and customer data loss, the impact of malware or attacks can reduce customer trust in your business and result in a lot of time and money lost.
Website security is a minefield but there are some simple things you can do to secure your website and make yourself less vulnerable to cyber criminals.
How To Fix It
First, you’ll want to choose a web hosting provider with a robust approach to security. Our research reveals that InMotion is the best web hosting provider for security, so if you do nothing else, make sure it’s giving serious consideration into making it your provider.
Another quick and easy solution is to make sure you’ve installed an SSL certificate, which encrypts information passing through your website – such as payment and login information.
Beyond this, any website with ecommerce ambitions will need to get grips with the complex world of PCI compliance. PCI, or the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard in full, is a mandatory set of strict security measures designed to safeguard cardholder data on any websites where it is being shared.
The easiest way to get around this is to use a website builder like Wix or Shopify, which do the hard work for you to be PCI compliant – for example, BigCommerce recently underwent third-party audits in order to receive ISO 27701 and 22301 certifications, so that you don’t have to!
Another option is to use a third-party payment provider, such as PayPal or Stripe. The big name providers all handle PCI compliance for you, though they also take a cut of the transaction in exchange for facilitating the sale.
This might not be for everyone, however, which is where ecommerce plugins come in handy. Like other WordPress plugins, ecommerce plugins are designed to do some of the heavy lifting for you and your website.
The one we often recommend is WooCommerce. To take PCI secure payments directly through WooCommerce, you’ll need its WooCommerce Payments add-on in place on your Woo-powered digital store. Alternatively, WooCommerce integrates neatly with third-party providers like those mentioned above. You can learn more by reading our full WooCommerce review.
Many people start their new website off on a shared hosting plan, because this is the cheapest type of hosting to get your site online. However, it’s also the most limited, which can cause problems when you start to gain high levels of traffic. If your site is lagging or crashing, it could be because your site has now outgrown its hosting plan!
Scalability is key and if your business grows to a certain size you might find that shared hosting solutions are no longer able to adequately deal with the high volumes of traffic you’re receiving.
How To Fix It
When this happens, it’s time to upgrade to a more advanced hosting plan. The next level up from shared hosting is usually VPS hosting, but if you need even more space to grow, you may need what’s called dedicated server hosting. This is when your website essentially rents a server all to itself, so you don’t have to worry about maxing out your share on the bandwidth.
Of the many options available, there’s a clear winner in Bluehost. Our number one overall web hosting provider is also the best option for getting a dedicated server, and it’s no surprise it’s WordPress’ recommended choice, too. Not only is it superb value for money, you get fantastic RAM and CPU bang for your buck as well. Its 4.7/5 score makes it the obvious way to address resource limitations, as and when your website may encounter them.
No matter which host you choose, though, be sure that your new plan has the resources you need to support your site. For example, if your current plan is struggling to support large amounts of traffic, your next plan should have a higher amount of bandwidth to combat this.
Running a website isn’t always straightforward and you deserve a hosting provider that offers you a good quality level of support when things don’t go according to plan. Specifically, you probably want to go with someone that offers 24/7 support, live web chat, email support tickets and other key help features for when things don’t go according to plan.
On the flipside, if you’re struggling to contact your web host, or its help center is a barren wasteland of outdated guides, or forum questions go unanswered after years, you may feel like you’re on your own trying to resolve technical issues. This can be stressful, not to mention the implications on your business if you can’t fix downtime or other issues!
How To Fix It
If you feel let down by your provider, the solution is simple: switch.
Of the many options, HostGator scores best for help and support, with a near-perfect support score of 4.8 out of 5 for shared and WordPress hosting and 4.9 for dedicated hosting, making it the clear pick for a provider that goes the extra mile with help and support.
Having a website for your business may be essential, but that doesn’t mean it’s cheap. The cost of web hosting can quickly skyrocket and for every promise of pricing “from just $1.99 a month” there’s a final bill closer to $100. We explain why this happens so often in our FAQs below!
It’s important that your costs remain affordable so that your web hosting doesn’t eat into your profits or become unsustainable. Your website is an important investment, but it shouldn’t cost more than you can afford.
How To Fix It
If you want to keep costs down, then you should consider starting with one of the best shared web hosting services. These offer much cheaper plans than dedicated hosting providers, due to the fact that you’re sharing space on a server with other websites. It might not be suitable for all large organizations, but for small businesses and sole traders it’s more than ample.
If you know that your site is too big for a cheap shared plan, consider switching web hosts. Transferring your website hosting to a new provider comes with new, introductory prices for your first term, and chances are you may find better deals by shopping around. We have a list of the best cheap web hosts to check out!
Hosting your own website can be an appealing option. It gives you total control over your hosting set-up and you can customize absolutely everything, from the hardware you use to software updates, settings, and performance management.
However, to take advantage of the benefits of hosting your own website, you need a high level of technical expertise. Everything from upgrading hardware to releasing website updates, performance monitoring, and implementing security controls will be down to you and your team, so it’s no small feat. Even if you have the right people in place, it’s a costly undertaking, as enterprise grade servers don’t come cheap.
Running a website is rewarding, not to mention essential for success in today’s digital landscape. However, it’s not always smooth sailing. Whether you encounter security issues, lagging load times, or sky-rocketing hosting costs, you’re not alone – and we’ve put together these solutions to help you feel confident resolving the problems you face.
Here’s a recap of the common issues and possible solutions we’ve covered:
- Downtime and Server Errors – choose a web host with high uptime guarantee
- Slow Loading Speeds – optimize content such as images and files, install a plugin like Lazy Load by WP Rocket, and check for updates
- Security and PCI Compliance – install SSL, check your providers’ security measures, use a third-party provider or plugin that offers PCI compliance for you
- Limited Resources – upgrade your hosting plan to VPS or dedicated hosting
- Lack of Help and Support – switch web hosts, to one that provides 24/7, thorough support
- Cost – consider a cheap shared plan if your site allows, or shop around for a new web host entirely to make the most of cheap starter prices
We’re not saying that the solutions given here are the only measures you can take to combat these common web hosting problems, but they’re a good place to start. Let us know in the comments which web hosting problems you’ve encountered, and what you did to solve them!
Shared hosting is where your website and all its files live alongside other websites on a shared server. As a result of sharing space, it’s the most economical option and shared hosting is particularly popular for small businesses, freelance professionals, and hobbyists as a result.
Cloud hosting is where a virtual server is created from other singular but connected web servers. This is also called server virtualization and has the benefit of improving uptime, as a new virtual server can quickly step in if one of the servers of the network goes down.
Dedicated hosting is where you rent your own server for your website. It’s typically the most expensive option but comes with a number of benefits, including helping to optimize performance, security, and other resources.