Hosting companies often segregate their plans by the recommended number of visitors that they think the package can handle. For example, here are the recommendations for NameHero’s web hosting packages (per month):
- Starter – 10,000 visits
- Plus – 25,000 visits
- Turbo – 50,000 visits
- Business – 100,000 visits
Metrics like this are seriously flawed, but we need some way to differentiate one package from another, besides just the technical specifications. After all, “visitors per month” is an easy metric to measure, and makes sense to everyone. After all, what does “1 GB RAM” actually mean in real terms? We can’t say.
And yet, the “visitors per month” metric is almost meaningless in itself. There are many factors beyond the underlying hosting that can dramatically increase or decrease the capability of a website to handle visitors. And new technologies are emerging that I feel will revolutionize this. So let’s see why it’s foolhardy to talk about monthly visitor capability.
I Can Make a Starter Package Handle 10x the “Recommended” Load
Earlier, I’d written about static WordPress sites, and how they create static HTML out of dynamically generated WordPress pages. Such a “pure HTML” site could easily handle a massive influx of visitors without breaking a sweat even on low-cost hosting plans. The strain on a server comes from CPU cycles, database queries, I/O requests, and more. If a website is entirely composed of static HTML pages, the server barely has to do any work at all.
In the same way (but not as extreme), caching solutions do a great job at supercharging low cost hosting plans. They work almost like the static WordPress solutions, but still have a bit of processing in the background. NameHero in particular, uses the LiteSpeed web server which offers in-house server caching that’s superior to 3rd party caching solutions. This means that NameHero plans can handle loads that will make other hosting providers stutter and break.
Cloud CDN Caching is the Next Frontier
The most exciting, emerging trend in the web hosting world, is the way CDNs are expanding their scope and starting to cache dynamic content. Unlike ordinary CDNs that cache static content like images, JS and CSS without any configuration required on the site itself, dynamic caching needs to have a component running on the site server. This is so that it can inform the CDN to update outdated content on their caches.
It’s a relatively new idea, so CDNs are still figuring out the best ways to make it work. But once the technology has matured and other CDNs come into the market, it will revolutionize web hosting. You’ll soon be able to see even low-cost websites be able to handle loads that were unthinkable before!
But E-Commerce is a Different Ballgame
Just like I can take a starter package and make it handle a lot more than it’s “supposed” to, I can take a high-end package and make it stutter, depending on the type of website I have. To take an extreme example, if I use a local backup solution like UpdraftPlus and run it on my site frequently, it’ll place a tremendous load on my server as it will flood the I/O limits. More realistically, e-commerce sites have unique requirements that make it unsuitable for low-cost hosting. And it scales linearly with the load, so there’s no flattening of resource usage like we see with static pages. If you’re running a highly dynamic site with lots of visitor interactions and personalized content, you’re going to need high end plans with lots of CPU and RAM. There’s no getting around it.
The recommended number of visitors that web hosts show on their package deal pages is just a hint. It’s not even a particularly good hint, since the resource usages of sites is not a normal distribution. Only through experience, can you come to know what kind of site you need. And by keeping an eye on the latest technological developments, you can increase your site’s capabilities at no additional cost!
I’m a NameHero team member, and an expert on WordPress and web hosting. I’ve been in this industry since 2008. I’ve also developed apps on Android and have written extensive tutorials on managing Linux servers. You can contact me on my website WP-Tweaks.com!