Cloud and Managed Hosting
The Hosting Relationship
Freetimers has been providing quality hosting services since 1997, and the hosting we provide is very specific to each client--we don't offer a 'one-size-fits-all' hosting service. Instead, we provision for you specifically after assessing what your website really requires in terms of space, speed, processing power, reliability, resiliency, backups and more. Our underlying assumption as well is that many of our clients will not stand still--their business and website will evolve, and as the website becomes progressively more successful and (perhaps) mission-critical, we will work with the client to progressively improve their hosting to accommodate this. So, we work with you more as a partner, monitoring progress, and evolving your hosting as need requires. In short, we care.
Evolving Your Hosting as Your Website Evolves
For example, we have developed many websites for start-up businesses of all types. Unless the start-up website has very specific requirements for a dedicated solution, we might start the hosting on an inexpensive shared hosting environment, and then perhaps a year or two later, move the site to a less populated but still shared server, where more of the resources are specifically earmarked to them. If the website grows further, we could then move it to its own dedicated server or cloud virtual server. If its requirements expand further we may move the site to a more powerful server on a better network. Ultimately if the site becomes highly mission-critical with lots of traffic and high levels of processor usage, we would move it to our top networks and develop a multi-server cluster system with auto-failovers built-in and backups taken and retained in depth.
We have clients today who have progressed through exactly these sorts of evolutionary paths. Our principal network providers today include AWS, Digital Ocean, UK Fast, Node4 and Fasthosts. These include shared and dedicated hardware servers (metal) and highly resilient cloud servers, including shared, semi-dedicated, dedicated and multi-server cluster dedicated configurations.
Metal v Cloud Hosting
The direction of travel for website hosting is to the cloud, largely because of virtualisation and the concomitant resiliency and flexibility improvements. For a number of years there were significant SEO and location issues with cloud hosting, but now those issues have been resolved, so more and more of our hosting is moving to be cloud-based.
Nevertheless, we do also provide hardware-based hosting with a range of providers, and with the resiliency measures we have put in place, traditional hosting can still be a viable option. For sites with high computational and processor usage requirements particularly, metal hosting can still be advantageous because the resources can be entirely dedicated to the site concerned. This can also be done with some of the more sophisticated cloud providers, including having hybrid configurations, but on many cloud hosting services, you will be sharing the services which can mean your site will operate less quickly. Choosing to use a dedicated resources option can also add considerably to costs
When we work with a new client we take all these matters into consideration, and if there are choices these will be discussed and agreed with the client prior to undertaking a new implementation or change.
Managed Hosting - The Basics
Our hosting is 'managed hosting', and what this means for us is that you are not alone. We actively manage and maintain the servers, and do our best to keep them as up to date as possible. This is not as simple as you may think because, unlike most hosting services, we're thinking about your website and whether or not the time is right to update a particular piece of software or operating system. This is a balancing act because many updates will change something fundament and potentially break a website that has not been built to use the new software. We try to keep you updated when we can see an upcoming change will cause problems and may require changes to your website code. By contrast, most hosting businesses simply push the updates through automatically, with little or no notice or information, and you are left on your own to adapt, after the fact, and sometimes with a broken website.
All our hosting also comes with back-ups built-in. Usually, this means our network provider takes daily back-ups and we also take back-ups of both files and databases. All backups are maintained in the UK or EU and are encrypted for GDPR compliance. We can also augment the back-ups we routinely take by agreement with each client, where they decide they want even greater resiliency for disaster recovery purposes. All our hosting also comes with an email provision, webmail and a server-based basic website statistics package so you can see what is really happening with your website, prior to the results being filtered (which is what you get with Google Analytics, for example.)
If you are looking for quality resilient hosting and would like to delegate management to a partner who will care about your business, please don't hesitate to contact us.