It’s sometimes difficult for customers of hosting services to determine which plans and companies will best meet their needs. This challenge has become more pronounced in the era of virtual private servers (VPS’s) and cloud computing. Although distributed virtualization has strongly positive attributes – speed, reliability, redundancy, cost-effectiveness, etc. – it also can be unclear exactly what you are getting.
We feel that one of the best ways to use a blog is to draw on customer questions and turn individual conversations into education for a broad audience. That way we are answering common concerns, while always respecting the privacy and sensitivity of any information stated during the interaction. We call the series of articles that is derived from our specific user communications “Real World Scenarios” (RWS).
In this installment of RWS, we look at speed as a factor for customers. Why is speed important? How do you determine the speed of a hosting environment? Let’s look at the issue both broadly and then in the context of an actual interaction between our Cloud Hosting consultant and a client.
Why speed is critical for websites
There are two basic reasons and one more complex reason why speed is crucial if you want to succeed with your site. Basic reasons:
- The data reason – Your prominence on the search engines is determined, in part, by how fast it loads.
- The human reason (Part A) – One of the top considerations of anyone who wants to optimize their site should be user experience (UX). Slow load times cause frustration, and that means poor UX and rapid flight from your site to one that won’t feel like it’s wasting the user’s time. Put another way, the people visiting your site like feeling control. Waiting for a site to load can make a person feel like they are stuck in the technological vortex.
- The human reason (Part B) – Our attention spans and memories are shorter and less reliable than we like to think. When we wait, the data in our short-term memories starts to deteriorate, and we become less capable of meaningfully connecting what we are experiencing. That’s the essential argument offered by Jakob Nielsen, PhD of the Nielsen Norman Group, and it makes sense.
How to test a live site
There are numerous tools online to determine the speed of your site in its current setting. One of the most reliable ones is through Google. Go to Webmaster Tools > Other Resources > PageSpeed Insights. You’ll get a score from 1 to 100, along with notes on why your site is slower than it could be and recommendations to optimize it.
That’s for testing speed of a live site, though. Things get trickier when you want to test the speed of a hosting service before you sign on as a client. The below discussion details a customer that is concerned with speed, along with the tool we recommend to showcase the strong performance of our network.
Request to test a cloud VPS system
Client: Hi, do you guys accept Visa debit cards?
Consultant: Yes, we do.
Client: Okay. I think I want to rent the XSmall package. Before I do that, though, I need to test one of the sites currently running on this type of server.
Consultant: We do not provide free trials. You can create a server under the hourly rate. When you have finished your test, you can delete it. You will only be charged for the hours you have it online. We use 100% SSDs (solid state drives), which exhibit up to 100 times the speed of standard HDDs (hard disk drives).
Client: Can you please give me the URL of a website currently running on your $4.97 per month server?
Consultant: Unfortunately, we cannot provide you with information on any of the customers that use our data center. However, your response time should be comparable to this test link.
Client: Great. Just one second. Let me test it right now, if that’s OK.
Consultant: Sure, let me know when you are finished.
Client: OK, it looks good.
Consultant: Our smallest plan currently costs as low as $0.99 a month. I would recommend signing up for that plan (XXSmall Linux), due to the low cost associated with the service. That way you can test it while only incurring a small fee.
Client: I appreciate it. Actually, I’m going to go ahead with the XSmall. I know I’m going to need those extra resources, and the speed looks fine. Thank you!
Consultant: Thank you for using Atlantic.Net. Please let us know if you have any further questions.
SSD cloud VPS through Atlantic.Net
If you are interested in any of our Cloud Hosting or Cloud VPS, or you can take advantage of our publicly available speed testing. If you choose us for your hosting needs, you will get access to live consultants 24/7, exhibiting the same expertise and courtesy experienced by the client above.
We also offer managed and HIPAA compliant hosting solutions.
By Kent Roberts