This article provides some information about how we approach web, email and domain hosting at Threesides. It also helps to explain some of the terms that get thrown around a lot and answer frequently asked questions.
Fundamentally, your system configuration should reflect (and be responsive to) the needs of your business. The contents of this article is a reflection of our experience working across a range of clients, hosting providers and technical ability.
At the end of the day – we all want your website to be quick, manageable and attracting customers.
What is Web hosting?
Hosting (be it web, domain, or email) refers to services that make your website or email accessible on the internet.
Hosting providers range in the services they offer, some host multiple types, and others specialise in one type. You may even have all your hosting managed by a marketing agency or your IT service provider.
Website Hosting, VPS hosting, or Managed Hosting providers give your website a place to live.
Different hosting packages allocate resources to your website. Typically, higher subscription costs provide greater performance and a variety of add-on services.
Some hosting (often Managed Hosting) includes software updates and security patches; others do not, and you must manage this yourself. Running out-of-date or vulnerable software can lead to lower performance, crashes, or security risks. Information on website maintenance is available here.
VPS or a dedicated server can be expensive and is often over-specced for standard websites and comes with limited customer support.
Many large hosting providers, such as GoDaddy, HostPappa, etc. provide cPanel (control panel) hosting. This combines email, web and DNS hosting together, and can make it difficult to migrate or move your hosting service if required.
Email Hosting provides your domain with email addresses and processes the sending and receiving of emails. Common dedicated email providers are Office365 and Google Apps.
Your website hosting might also come with ‘free email accounts.’ This often refers to emails that are tied in with your website hosting and are not separately managed. In this case, moving website hosts may interrupt your email service.
Domain Registration and DNS Hosting
Domain registrars register and manage URLs and this often includes DNS hosting. DNS hosting refers to translating the URLs (like threesides.com.au) to their location on the internet (in the form of an IP address like 192.168.0.1).
Sometimes your DNS hosting is not attached to your domain registrar. Often this is because an agency or your IT provider is managing it on your behalf. You might also be using a service like Cloudflare for security and performance.
Some hosts like CrazyDomains or CheapDomains.com.au require a ‘Premium DNS hosting’ to manage DNS records – this is charged at a monthly or annual fee.
If your DNS is hosted within a different hosting provider, in cPanel, or with an agency, migrating to a different hosting provider can be more complex. In this instance your DNS records will need to be migrated to a separate service if you wish to change web hosts.
We build websites that are designed to perform well using the latest software – delivering high-performance websites and a great user experience. We believe that you should own, have access to, and be able to update, any aspect of your hosting.
This means that Threesides does not provide hosting, instead, we use and recommend dedicated providers to use. Dedicated providers separate ongoing concerns and can make it easier to update or change providers if required.
We will work with you to set up the required accounts with these service providers and can provide the technical requirements to your existing providers if required. Migrating DNS or changing hosts can take time, and we will provide a quote for this work.
Threesides builds and designs websites, and we choose to host these websites with WP Engine. WP Engine is a managed WordPress host – this means hosting has been designed to work the best with WordPress websites. As a managed host, they also manage server management and updates, overall WordPress security and updates, and technical support.
Included in the WP Engine web hosting plan is free SSL certificates, access to their support team and CDN. WP Engine provides Australian hosting servers through Google Cloud’s data centres in Sydney.
We recommend using an email address represented by your domain, rather than via a free provider such as @outlook.com, @gmail.com, etc. This reinforces your brand and means your emails are less likely to end up in the Junk folder.
Threesides recommends either Microsoft365 (aka Office365) or Google Workplace (formerly known as G-Suite and Google Apps) depending on your business needs. If you’ve used Gmail before, Google Apps provides a very similar interface using your own domain. If you’re licensing Microsoft apps for your staff, you likely already have access to Microsoft365.
Domain registration and DNS Hosting
There are many domain registrars that we use, in particular, we look for registrars that provide a free DNS hosting option with domain registration. This allows you to make as many changes to the records as required – such as pointing to web hosting, verifying email systems or other web tools. In some instances, we recommend setting up a free Cloudflare account to provide simple DNS management.
Comparison of Typical and Threesides’ Recommended Approach
|Configuration||Domain registration with Australian provider such as NetRegistry.|
cPanel hosting through large host such as GoDaddy, or re-sold through web agency
DNS hosting moved into cPanel
cPanel IMAP emails setup to forward to a general [email protected] account
|Domain registration with an Australian provider such as NetRegistry|
DNS hosting with the domain registrar, or through dedicated DNS such as Cloudflare
Web Hosting with WP Engine
Email Hosting with Microsoft365 as part of managed IT services
|Advantages||Lower startup complexity as they are all managed through one or two providers.||Service providers specialise in their particular field – providing better performance and features.|
You’re not locked into using one provider for all services.
Systems can be added, removed or changed as required to meet new business needs.
|Disadvantages||Limited options to change one aspect of the services – eg. web hosting, if relying on cPanel for DNS and email.||Need to manage multiple service accounts.|
Setup can be more complex.