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When you get your oil changed, a good mechanic will do two things:

  • He’ll put that little sticker in the corner of your window that gives your mileage and a date in the future to get another oil change, and
  • He’ll send you a postcard, email or call you when it’s that time again.

Only the most argumentative person would suggest that your car will run great and last forever without checking it over, getting it lubricated, having it cleaned and tightened up regularly. We take this as common sense, right?

Not only do we treat regular auto maintenance as common sense, but we constantly shop around for the best deals on oil changes, brakes, and tires, and go to great lengths to ensure we’re getting the best price from the most trustworthy and reliable mechanic. We often seek online reviews and ratings before deciding on who to let touch our precious automobiles, and we shop around freely to obtain the best blend of low cost and superior service. It’s expected that we do this as smart and savvy motorists.

Now think about your website, instead. You’re on recurring auto-pay with your host. Your ISP makes recurring revenue off you by not reminding you to get your website serviced. They don’t tell you if your site is slowing down, or offer to fix it for you. You haven’t compared hosting companies in years. Yet every month, you send tens, hundreds or thousands of dollars to the same company, reaching out to them only when you have a serious breakdown, right? Isn’t your web server and online application just as important a vehicle for your brand image as your car is for carrying you out into the world?

What’s on your road map?

How long have you been with your current hosting company? If your website has been hosted by the same company for more than a year or two, you’re definitely due for a website review and review of top hosting providers, and an analysis of where you want to take your online experience over the coming months and years — your website road map, if you will.

The biggest and best ISPs are constantly adding features and reducing rates to attract new customers. If the price you’re currently paying for 1GB of storage or 10GB of transfer are year or two-old rates, you can definitely save by shopping around. Furthermore, if your site uses tables, HTML3, Flash video, graphic rollovers or other aging techniques, your users, particularly on mobile devices, are really missing out on the full capabilities modern browsers offer, such as responsive design, HTML5, CSS3, and JQuery.

Unlock the doors

The vast majority of small- to medium-sized business are pretty much locked into their current hosting situation. Whether through a lack of knowledge, technical resources, time, or other factors, the black magic that makes a website work is not something most business owners think about too much. As long as it stays up, we’re satisfied spending the same amount we always have.

Let’s stop at the next intersection!

Arthur C. Clarke said, “Any significantly advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.” Understanding the magic — how, or at least, what is required, to make your website function, how it works, and how to back it up and move it — can give a business owner some huge advantages in today’s fast-paced and volatile global economic climate.

First and foremost, having a process that frees the business owner from being locked into a hosting company provides the flexibility to transfer hosting companies whenever the need arises. This can come in handy if you’re with a smaller ISP that has an outage during a critical time, or just as a quarterly plan to evaluate other options.

Second, knowing how to migrate your website from one ISP to another at a moment’s notice can be a huge advantage when it comes to cost and scalability. Armed with a list of everything that makes your website tick, how to update your DNS, how much data you have to backup and transfer, knowing all of your account usernames and passwords, and bundling all of these items with a strategic and nimble process that makes use of the latest cloud deployment strategies, you’ll never be held hostage by your ISP, and you’ll always be ensured of receiving the best features and service levels for the price you pay.

The Keys to driving away safely

In part 2 coming next week, we’ll tell you everything you need to know to be flexible with your hosting options and to be prepared to migrate anytime you like. We’ll explain both what you need to know (the critical data), and how the procedure works (the steps involved), to be flexible to change ISPs in 24 hours or less. Please contact us if you’d like a complete inspection.