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Limelight Online Managed Hosting Plans vs. Un-managed Hosting Plans

27 May 2016
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So, you have a website and you pay a monthly or annual hosting fee to ensure that your website is accessible to all of your website visitors over the Internet. As a website owner that’s about all you really want or need to know right?  Besides, all that hosting jargon is technical and complex; not to mention confusing. You don’t want to be bothered with the nuts and bolts of the hosting plan that your web developer has you on, you just want to run your business right?

We couldn’t agree more. You shouldn’t be bogged down in the day to day management of your hosting, however you should know from the outset exactly what type of hosting plans are available because if you haven’t paid attention to the detail then you could find yourself in a tricky spot further down the track. And that’s because there are two models of plan available – Managed and Un-managed and as the names suggest one is more secure and stable than the other.

How much you are paying for your website hosting is a pretty good indicator of which service you are receiving. It’s fairly obvious that an un-managed plan will be cheaper than a managed plan and often we hear comments like ‘Hosting is just hosting isn’t it?’ Or ‘Oh, my current provider charges much less than that’. We caution though that getting the cheapest price possible for your hosting is not a safe tactic. There is a myriad of things that can and do go wrong and if your hosting plan isn’t well managed then your website will be vulnerable to exploits. You pay for website hosting because you need your website to be online so that potential clients can find your business or organisation. We focus hard on making sure we optimise our hosting environment to ensure maximum availability of our clients’ sites.

A fundamental question you should ask your web company is “Do you manage the server that my website will be hosted on?” If the answer is ‘yes’ dig a little further and ask what range and importantly, how many years of experience they have. Often a web company will say ‘yes’ – but that can mean that they rely on the System Administrators at the Datacenter to fix things when they go wrong as opposed to actually managing the servers themselves. So you also need to be asking questions like “How often do you update your server hardware?”, “How often do you apply security patches?” and “Do you commit software updates in a staging environment before committing to a production server?” – if they look at you blankly (no doubt similar to the look on your face right now) then you will know that they are not actively managing their server. Also ask about the history of the hosting company they use and make sure that there is some social proof (such as testimonials or social media) of the company being a reputable operator.  

If they say ‘no’ you might want to reconsider your options. Increasingly, as ‘web design’ becomes more commoditized, and due to the lack of barriers to entry, you’ll find that many web designers these days are just that ‘designers’ – they have little to no technical knowledge of web hosting and so rely on third parties, or worse still, leave it to chance that nothing will go wrong.

Here at Limelight Online we only offer Managed Hosting plans. With close to 20 years’ experience over hundreds of websites we have in-house technicians who are experts in hosting and diagnostics. Our servers are provided by Rimu Hosting who themselves have been in business for close to 14 years and who have an excellent reputation in the industry.

Here is a table comparing our  Managed Hosting Plan vs. an Un-managed hosting plan that might be offered by a web company and how a managed hosting plan benefits you: 

 

Limelight Online
Managed Hosting Plan

Un-managed Hosting Plan

Actively Managed

We go beyond the server to actively monitor website services 24/7 and take full responsibility for our servers and websites. 

Web companies using an un-managed hosting plan normally have limited or no knowledge of hosting environments. They are generally looking to clip the ticket and pass the responsibility onto the website owner by charging to fix an issue when things go wrong.

Why is this important for you?
Peace of mind that your website is in safe hands and is monitored regularly.

Shared Hosting

Only Limelight Online/Apex Digital clients are hosted on our servers. We offer a guaranteed good neighbourhood.

Most offer shared hosting environments that increase security risks for your website. No vetting is done on the types of sites that share this environment and often these shared environments do not have adequate security in place to prevent malicious attacks. If one website is vulnerable, this could bring the entire server down.

Why is this important for you?
Because only our own robustly secure websites are hosted on our servers so your website is safe from any security risks that might be present in an un-managed shared environment.

After Hours Support

Day-to-day after hours’ emergency support is available through our 0800 Support number, via our website or via email. 

Many companies offer business hours support but don’t offer after hours’ support. If your website goes down Friday night, oftentimes it won’t be up again until Monday morning at the earliest.

Why is this important for you?
Rest assured that in an emergency, you can contact us 24/7 and we will deal with it quickly. 

Server and Website Monitoring & Fault Resolution?

Fast 24/7 resolution of time-critical faults. Server level faults are managed by our onsite datacenter partner as well as text message alert to our on-call technician. All websites are monitored every 15 minutes through a third party uptime monitoring service.

Monitoring of servers and websites is generally not included in an un-managed hosting plan. Faults are generally not rectified outside of business hours. As your host is not monitoring your website, they won’t know there is a problem until you tell them and you might not realise there is a problem until you notice that the phone has stopped ringing.

Why is this important for you?
If anything urgent happens to our server outside of hours, we will attend to it immediately resulting in lower downtime for your website.

Minimum Downtime?

We boast a 99.9% uptime for our servers.

Generally, un-managed hosting plans do not offer any form of uptime guarantee.

Why is this important for you?
Less downtime means more business for you. Your website is available when your potential clients are looking for you.

Up-to-date Hardware and Software?

Hardware and software infrastructure is kept up-to-date with a minimum of downtime. We upgrade our server hardware on a three-year rotation. OS Software updates are rolled out to our servers only after they are fully tested in our staging environment. Updates are completed weekly. 

Generally, the hosting company will replace failed components, reboot servers and maintain the network but because many web companies don’t look after the hosting environment themselves, they have little knowledge of how up-to-date the software and hardware is and don’t concern themselves with the potential risks in not having up-to-date infrastructure in place.

 

Why is this important for you?
The more up-to-date and robust the hardware and software, the less likely faults will occur and the less likely it will be subject to security exploits.

Bandwidth & Storage Policy

We offer*:
Unlimited Bandwidth
Unlimited Storage

*Fair use policy applies.
 

Most un-managed environments will have bandwidth and storage limitations. You get what you pay for and if you need more, costs increase. This can often lead to bill shock particularly if your website becomes exploited.

Why is this important for you?
We don’t think that you should be faced with additional charges for every GB you use over and above a certain threshold. What your website needs is what it will receive, within reason, with no additional charges. 

Server & Website Back Ups

Weekly Data Centre backup of complete server – 14-day rotation (i.e. data available for 13 days)

Plus:

Daily backup of website database - 7-day rotation. (i.e. data available for 6 days)

Data stored on independent server in different datacenter and downloaded by us daily.

In an un-managed environment web hosts are not liable for backups and data loss is not their responsibility. Your web company will likely do cloud or on-site back-ups of your website but without an automated system in place reliability and security can be an issue. If a restore of a website is required, and they have to escalate to a datacenter, costs can be extortionate.

Why is this important for you?
Should the unimaginable happen, we can restore a backup of your website and get it up and running again quickly.

Disaster Recovery Plan

A documented and periodically tested Disaster Recovery plan. Our Disaster Recovery precautions are established and documented and cover backup frequency, backup retention, independent backup location (including server replication if required) and regular testing of backup restore in a staging environment.

In an un-managed environment web hosts are not liable for backups and data loss is not their responsibility therefore a disaster recovery plan is generally not considered necessary.

Why is this important for you?
Having a sound plan in place, should a disaster happen, means we’ll quickly get your website up and running with minimum downtime.

Security Policy

A comprehensive security policy and a security audit framework. We have a tested security framework for all clients which considers amongst other things User Access Control policy, Secure Sockets Layer transfer of confidential information (SSL), Data encryption of confidential information, hiding of confidential information from search engines. 

We also run an Intrusion Detection & Protection System (IDS & IPS) as standard on our servers to monitor Brute Force hacking attempts, and to prevent upload of executable files. We automatically block the IP of any visitors found to be attempting to hack our servers.

Other security precautions include disguising of common ports, blocking of traffic on all ports to all but named IP addresses, disabling Common User Names (Server and CMS), password policy auditing and Error Log auditing.

In an un-managed environment security is solely the responsibility of the web company or website owner. Without an experienced technician available security issues can quickly become a real problem for web site owners. Open Source CMS’ like Drupal and WordPress are particularly vulnerable because of their ubiquity. It is estimated that 30,000 WordPress sites are hacked every day – if you have Open Source CMS website on an un-managed hosting plan – you are playing Russian Roulette with your business reputation.

Why is this important for you?
By having a sound security policy in place, we aim to mitigate any issues that arise throughout the course of a day. Keeping your website safe and sound with maximum uptime.

 

You’ll see how we work hard to alleviate the unnecessary risk, worry and potential threat to your livelihood with robust hosting solutions. Remember you get what you pay for, so make sure you consider your options before committing. Quality hosting can be likened to insurance – the value is sometimes only evident when you need to rely on it. We do not offer un-managed hosting plans, if you don’t consider your website security worth a few extra dollars a month, then we’re probably not the web partner for you.

Written by
As one of two founding directors, Karyn is primarily responsible for the marketing and strategic direction of Limelight Online. With full time experience in the industry since 1998, Karyn’s extensive knowledge sees her deeply involved in product and service development for both the digital marketing and web development sides of the company.

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