Let’s paint a scenario: You’ve been working on your own non-profit business idea and are ready to get started with having a website. Now let’s assume that you are going to do this website on your own and you don’t mind learning what it takes to create one using a website building tool like WordPress since it’s open source and most website hosts come with a one-click install. Because you know that you need a hosting service, you search on Google for keywords like “best website host” or “most affordable website host” (depending on your budget).
Suddenly the page loads with a ton of Ads as well as top ranking posts with a top 10 ranking of website hosts. You click and find that among the “best” are websites like Gatorhost, Bluehost, and GoDaddy. As you inspect the websites, you find that they offer incredible 1-3 year deals for their Shared Hosting plan as low as $2.99. You think to yourself, “Man, what a deal,” and you get your credit card out to proceed with payment.
You get all set up, install WordPress through their guided tutorials, and get started with designing your website while searching for help on how to do so through Google and Youtube videos. As you’re working through your website, you learn that your website load speeds are relatively slow compared to other websites you visited in the past. You can’t quite understand what’s going on, but you already paid for the hosting services so you figure you may as well deal with it. As you learn about SEO and notice that search engines like Google consider your website page loading experience, you begin to regret that you locked in on a multi-year hosting plan.
Choosing a Website Host is important, which is why I present to you Amazon Lightsail in AWS (Amazon Web Services) which I consider to be the best website host.
What is AWS (Amazon Web Services)?
Amazon Web Services is an ecosystem of applications that can be used for websites, web applications, mobile apps, email service, storage, databases, website hosting, domain name controllers, and so much more. The beautiful thing about it all is that you can use a combination of these applications to create outstanding products. For example, you can utilize a combination of:
- Amazon Lightsail used for creating Virtual Private Servers that host your website for an incredibly low price.
- Amazon SES (Simple Email Service) to handle transactional emails from your website such as contact form submissions sent to you or receipts to customers.
- Amazon S3 for storing video files or any other big files that your WordPress site may not be able to upload due to limitations.
The beautiful part of this combination is that it’s all in one ecosystem, so you don’t have to go elsewhere for email service, storage, or whatever else you may need. And best of all, it’s incredibly cheap with the starting hosting option costing $3.50 a month (though I prefer to go for the $5.00 a month right off the bat), offers you blazing fast speeds, and the ability to scale from there as your website traffic grows.
What are the current popular places to host my website at?
You will mostly find online posts and videos recommending Hostinger, Bluehost, and Hostgator (amongst others). They offer great affordable rates which seem appealing to the human psyche, but the benefits wane from there due to page load speeds suffering from the Shared Hosting platform they offer you at those low prices.
Though they offer a lot of services right off the bat that can help you get launching quicker (such as SSL’s, Email Service Configurations, etc.), the page load speeds and security wanes due to it being shared-hosting. Shared-hosting is simply your website being in the same server as other websites. You all share the resources of the server, and if one website gets compromised, hackers and viruses can make their way over to your website because you’re in the same server.
Why is Amazon Lightsail better?
Amazon Lightsail is better due to:
- Having your own private server thus making it more secure.
- You get more bang for your buck with its affordable $3.50, $5, or even $10 hosting option that feature far better technical specs than what the popular shared-hosting websites offer.
- Scalable. If you start at the $3.50 and need more juice for your website to keep up with traffic and plugins/designs, you can upgrade to the $5 tier or the $10 tier as you continue to grow. There’s even a $20 and $40 tier.
- Faster Page Load Speeds compared to the shared-hosting plans featured on the sites like HostGator, Hostinger, and Bluehost.
- Exists in the AWS ecosystem where you can make use of other apps and incorporate them into your product.
Cons of AWS Lightsail
Technical Skills Necessary
Now although Amazon Lightsail is phenomenal (it’s what we use for our clients), it isn’t without its “cons”. I say “cons” loosely just because it depends on the person working with Lightsail. Working in Lightsail means you’ll have to use a linux terminal, which means there will be some learning you’ll have to get done as far as commands go. Now there are documentations out there that will assist you (such as the Bitnami ones) which is just a Google search away.
Lack of Cpanel Out of the Box
If you ever want to access the database to make any changes, you will need to follow some documentation in order to set this up. It’s a pretty straightforward setup, but not everyone is capable of doing so, and so if you are doing something like a website migration over to AWS and need access to the db, then you will have to overcome this.
Email Service Needs Setup
AWS offers SES (Simple Email Service) where you can then setup everything you need to be able to receive and send emails. They start you off with a sandbox email server, and should you be ready to jump to a productive email server that would enable you to send emails to customers or users of your website, then you’ll have to do additional tasks to accomplish this. You’ll also need to set up the WP Mail SMTP plugin on your WordPress website with the proper SMTP credentials you received from AWS SES.
Support for AWS Products Hidden Behind Paywall
If you end up needing to contact their support team, you’ll need to pay up for their basic support that comes at a monthly fee. Normally websites like Hostinger, Hostgator, and Bluehost offer support as part of their hosting, but AWS does not do so.
Despite the cons of using Lightsail, its Pros are well worth the learning necessary to get your website up and running on the AWS ecosystem. There is enough documentation and videos out there in the World Wide Internets that can help you create a fully functioning WordPress site for your endeavors. It is truly a budget-friendly tool that does not sacrifice performance for the low cost.
Whether you’re a church wanting to build a website, a non-profit ready to rally support through a website, or you want to start an e-commerce store for your products, using Amazon Lightsail as your hosting service is the way to go for running a website with optimal performance at a great budget.
For additional information on Amazon Lightsail, check out the following link:
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