In a time when information is so easily accessible through devices such as a mobile phone, tablet, or pc, it is pretty much a given that your business have some kind of online presence, especially traditional brick and mortar businesses. No longer do people thumb through the Yellow Pages in search of a local business, but reach for their mobile device to perform a search query.
If you understand the importance of owning a website for your online or offline business, then you know that you will need a web hosting service. If you didn’t before, you do now.
You may be wondering if any web host will do. The short answer is, “No.” To help you get started, to help you make an informed decision in selecting your web host, here are 10 things to take into consideration.
The worst thing for your business is for your website to be down and inaccessible to visitors for any amount of time. While no web hosting service can promise 100 percent uptime, the question is how easily support can be contacted and how quickly can they resolve the issue.
Some web hosts rely on a ticket system for submitting support requests and others may have online chat support. What you want is a web host that offers multiple ways to contact support, including free 24/7 phone support with technicians that speak your language.
If the web host you are interested in does not have phone support, then contact them through their ticket system to see how quickly they respond to your support request. If it takes too long then scratch them off your list and move on to another service. Good, responsive customer support is vital.
- Domain Parking
How easy is it for you to park your other domains on the server? It is a common practice for a business to purchase not only the primary .com domain, but the .net, .org and other spelling variations of the primary domain as well.
Does the web host provide automatic backups of your domain and what kind of disaster recovery plan do they offer? If you have a WordPress site, there are plugins that will help you back up your site to your desktop or to a website such as Dropbox. The ability of your web host to routinely perform automatic backups will be an extra level of security in case you forget; and let us not forget the peace of mind it will bring you.
- Uptime Guarantee
The industry standard for web host uptime is around 99.9%, which comes out to a downtime of 1.44 minutes a day, .17 hours a week, or 8.8 hours a year. Another factor to consider is whether or not the web host provides mirrored servers, which is simply whether or not they have backup servers ready and available should your server go down.
How easy is it to make changes to your site? One feature to look for in a web host is whether or not they offer cPanel, which is the backend management system for your website. With cPanel access, you are easily able to access and modify various parts of your website and hosting configuration. You are also able to access email, add new email accounts, and manage existing accounts as well.
- Blog Installation
If you want your website to be a WordPress blog or use some other content management system, you will want to know how easy it is to install them on your server. If your web host offers cPanel, then most likely the answer is, “Very easy.” Most web hosts offering cPanel also offer a one-click install of WordPress and a number of other popular blog platforms, including Joomla and Drupal.
- Shared or Dedicated Hosting
Does your business need a dedicated web host or will shared hosting be acceptable for your needs? Shared hosting is where a single web host server hosts a number of other websites.
Shared hosting is less expensive because of this. A disadvantage to shared hosting is that should one of the other websites on your shared server adopt less than ethical email practices and get banned from various mail servers, all websites on that server are also banned.
Dedicated hosting is more expensive, but protects you from being punished for another website’s actions.
- Add-on Services
What are you paying for? Make sure you know what you’re getting for the price. Some hosts may offer a low price for hosting but then try to charge for additional features that you would expect to come with the web hosting, such as email.
It makes sense to purchase a smaller web hosting plan when you’re first starting out and don’t expect much traffic. But when your website starts to grow and receive more traffic, how easy will it be for you to scale up your services? Or, how will your web host handle additional spikes in traffic to your site due to a promotion or social media campaign?
- Exit Strategy
There may come a point when you want to change web hosts for any number of reasons. How easy will it be to move to a new service? Generally speaking, your new web host will be happy to move your website to their servers for you, so that shouldn’t be a problem at all. Just be sure to confirm that they will do so as a courtesy.
These are 10 things to take into consideration when selecting your web hosting provider and it’s a good start. By answering these questions, you should be able to select a web host that will provide you with the service you need and be able to help you as your business grows.