Most business owners understand the value of creating quality web content and they’re finally beginning to understand the importance of developing a web site that is responsive.
But, that very important process of selecting a reliable web hosting company is often ignored.
If done right, you can spend a lifetime of happiness with a reliable and high-performing host who is always available through phone, chat, or email to answer your burning late-night questions.
However, rushing into a hosting relationship without doing your research could lead to feeling trapped, misled, or extorted. Choosing the wrong host often ends with headaches and a messy, expensive divorce — and you again alone, holding on to all the files you used to share.
Reliability and Uptime
You really want this to be top of the list. If you host on a server that is only online 50% of the time then you’ll be losing half your visitors, business and income! Your web host should guarantee its uptime. You won’t ever find a host that has 100% uptime – but look for web hosts that at least guarantee a minimum of 99.5% uptime.
Following on from your server’s reliability, it’s a good idea to look for a host that will provide great, timely customer support. Customer support need not be via phone – email support is just as good as it provides a thread should an issue need to be escalated. Your website’s server and network should be monitored 24/7 – that includes public holidays!
Know Which Type of Hosting You Need
Before you start looking for a hosting mate, take a moment to think about what you’re looking to get out of your next relationship. Just like light sleepers probably shouldn’t date people who snore, your needs will affect your compatibility with certain hosting providers and services.
A personal portfolio website doesn’t need a dedicated server, just like a high-traffic, high-volume online store shouldn’t cut corners with the cheapest shared hosting plan.
You may just be getting your business off the ground but it’s always good to look for a web host that will allow you to easily upgrade your plan in the future. This may include increasing disk space, number of email accounts or extra data traffic allowances as your business grows.
Security is key
Web security is becoming more and more important and your choice of web host can make a big difference in how well your site is protected. You need a web host that can offer strong firewalls, intrusion protection, and monitoring to defend against malware. In addition, your host should provide a backup service so if your site is taken offline, you can restore it easily and in no time at all.
In this day and age, if a web host doesn’t provide robust security you should stay clear.
Bandwidth and Disk space
Don’t cut yourself short on disk space and data transfer (bandwidth/traffic) when picking a plan. Most websites consume a very small amount of disk space, but you should allow room for growth, and space for email storage. Investigate if the host provides warning emails as you approach critical limits and ensure they won’t surprise you with excess fees for exceeding your monthly bandwidth traffic allowance.
The speed of the server is vital and can influence your website’s user experience. Ensure the responsive server speed is very high. Slow speeds will lead to low viewership which can damage your search engine optimization (SEO) efforts. Most internet users have no time to wait for slow sites to load. Make sure you have a SEO friendly website, by increasing your server speed by choosing the correct host.
Ease of use / Control Panel Site Management Tools
Choose a host that allows you to manage the different aspects of your web and email account yourself. An easy to use web based control panel should be provided. Ask to see a demo of the host’s control panels. This way you can get a feel for how you’ll be managing your website’s server.
Obviously you want to choose a hosting package that suits your budget. However, when researching prices, it’s important to look beyond the initial monthly price you’re shown.
First of all, consider that many hosting providers feature introductory deals for first-time users. After your first billing term, your plan will renew at the normal price. Be sure you’re not just budgeting for the introductory price but can afford the regular rate as well.
There’s a lot to consider when choosing a web host, and it all starts with knowing what your needs are so you can find the host best suited to you. What will you be looking for in your ideal web host? Tell us in the comments below.