How to overcome lockdown website performance problems with a VPS
During lockdown, small to medium businesses across the UK have had to innovate. Some have started selling online for the first time, others have diversified or expanded their online product ranges, and many have had to add new functionality to their websites – from new shipping to new payment processes.
However, added functionality can take its toll on site performance. In recent weeks, websites based on the most basic and budget web hosting packages may have become sluggish.
The lockdown measures linked to Covid-19 are slowly beginning to ease, but this doesn’t mean that businesses will go back to normal.
In fact, industry experts suggest that the future of business is looking firmly omnichannel.
In this article, we’ll take a brief look at what this omnichannel future might look like and the importance of site performance to this future, before considering how a virtual private server can help websites perform at their peak moving forward.
Post lockdown – a new kind of experience online
Recent research by Small Business Britain and BT Skills for Tomorrow found that 45 per cent of small businesses in North West England had moved online due to the pandemic.
This same research discovered that 44 per cent of these businesses were planning on having less face to face contact with customers in the future, and that 37 per cent intended to focus more on digital as lockdown restrictions ease.
While these studies suggest that businesses that didn’t have an online presence before the Covid crisis are planning to maintain their digital presence, there’s also evidence to suggest that brands that were already firmly established online are planning on improving their digital offering by doing things like building a ‘high touch experience’ online.
Kelley Martin, the CEO of big beauty brand Skyn Iceland, recently told Glossy magazine:
“One of the biggest omnichannel evolutions we’ll continue to see is a focus on digitizing the ‘high-touch’ experience typically found in physical retail. Without the physical merchandising and expertise of in-store staff to guide customers, we’ve found it to be increasingly important to bring product education, expert tutorials and community building online.
“Even as physical stores begin to re-open, with increased safety protocols and updated procedures, I predict that both Skyn Iceland and brands across the beauty industry will prioritize richer digital experiences that go beyond transactions and new product launches.”
In April, meanwhile, department store John Lewis started offering one-to-one video appointments to customers who wanted advice on anything from home design to personal styling advice.
The importance of speed for websites
Just like Top Gun pilots, web users feel the need for speed. Research has found that loading time is a major factor in page abandonment rates. In fact, some studies have suggested that up to a quarter of customers will give up trying to access a site if it takes longer than four seconds to load.
Also, Google considers load time as one of its metrics that affect ranking. So, a slow website could be punished in the search rankings.
Various techniques can be employed to speed-up slow websites, such as compressing images and videos, or employing a ‘lazy loading’ app, which means that a website only loads heavy items, like images, as the user scrolls down to them.
However, these techniques won’t make a significant difference if the website’s server is simply not up to the job.
This is where a managed virtual private server comes in.
What are virtual private servers?
To best understand the nature of a VPS, it helps to look at the other types of servers on the market. In shared hosting, multiple customers share the finite resources – ie CPU, RAM and disk space – of a single physical machine/server.
With a dedicated server, a single customer gets exclusive access to their own machine/server. All the resources are theirs and they can configure the machine the way they want to.
VPSs take up the middle ground. With VPSs, a single server is split into several ‘virtual machines’ that operate completely independently of each other.
VPSs can either be single server VPSs or cloud VPSs. In the former, the VPS is an individual separated part of a single physical machine. The latter are hosted across several physical servers, which make up a local cloud. Cloud VPSs are much more scalable as they aren’t confined to a single sever.
VPS and performance
As mentioned earlier, websites run on a VPS will typically perform better than websites run on basic shared hosting services.
Because in shared hosting, multiple customers have access to the resources of a single server. With a VPS, customers get their own dedicates resources.
5 other benefits of a VPS, in addition to performance
Performance isn’t the only benefit of using a VPS. Let’s look at five additional benefits to expect if you make the switch to VPS…
Cost effectiveness: While shared hosting bundles tend to be the cheapest hosting option on the market, VPSs give you many of the benefits of a dedicated sever – without the larger step up in cost. Scalability: Due to the way they are set up, VPS are easily scaled up. In fact, in many cases, scaling up can happen in real time.
Reliability: VPSs run independently of other virtual servers, which means any issues hitting other VPSs will not impact your environment.
Fully managed options: VPS packages can be fully managed, which unshackles customers from server admin and time-hogging chores like OS updates and patches.
Security: With managed VPS services, a team of experts will monitor a VPS around the clock to ensure it’s safeguarded.
Finding the right VPS provider
There are three main things you want to look for in a VPS provider. These are:
An SLA for uptime: You want a provider that can offer 99.9 per cent uptime.
Customer support: Ideally you want a provider that can offer 24 hour support.
Upgrade options: You want to know that your plan can grow as you do, so before choosing a VPS provider, you’ll want to be sure they make it easy to upgrade your package.
tsoHost offers five fully-managed VPS packages – Regular, Large, Super Size, Super Size+ and Powerhouse – that offer all of the above elements.
To find out more about the tech specs and the levels of service that comes with each package, visit our product pages.