Photo courtesy of Flickr: Alex (hisperati)
From time to time, I run into a friend or individual starting their own business or who's been outsourcing their hosting to an outside company. Inevitably the question arises:
- Should I host my own server?
- What are the benefits?
- What are the downsides?
- Is it safe and practical?
You may find yourself - or your management team - asking the same questions. With that in mind, the aim of this post is to answer some of those questions so that you can make an informed decision about whether or not to host your own in-house server for your business network.
Before we begin, I want to say that this is another one of those situations where the answer is inevitably: it all depends on your needs and preferences. Isn't that always the case? Nevertheless, let's discuss the benefits that an in-house server presents.
Benefits of Hosting Your Own Server
As a small business owner, the desire to control every aspect of your business is pretty strong - it is hard to put the fate of any part of your company in anyone else's hands. Because of this, perhaps the biggest benefit of hosting your own server is the control it gets you over your business network.
Another benefit is accessibility. When you outsource your hosting, there can be instances where you have an issue contacting or connecting with the tech support team managing your systems. I have been involved in situations where a server has crashed, and it has taken me two hours just to get someone on the phone. There are many reasons why this is unacceptable. It can also cost you a lot of money and if it happens frequently, can affect your website traffic, as Google considers speed and load time in its algorithm, when determining your position in the SERPs.
Finally, the ability to customize your box - and to upgrade it when needed - is, in my eyes, crucial. When you outsource your box, it usually comes with a bunch of things you do not need, and if you want to upgrade, you have typically have a limited set of options and it can take time for your upgrade to occur. If you host your own in-house server, you can do the upgrade process whenever you want and decide what you want - and don't want - in your box.
All of that being said, there are, in fact, negatives to hosting your own server as well - chiefly, all of the positives I listed above can technically be considered negatives as well. Having complete control over your own server means just that - if something goes wrong or you need an upgrade or a system set-up, it is your responsibility. For this reason, having an employee (or several) that truly understand server technology is imperative if you choose to run your own business network.
At the end of the day, you may wish to consult an unbiased party who can adequately assess your business needs. The cost of an informed consultant can be minor in terms of what you can save by hosting your own server.