Historically, you only really had to consider disk storage and bandwidth when you are choosing a web hosting service. Today, web hosting providers offer lots of extra features and the difference between one company and another can be staggering.
In addition, not every web host is suited to a particular website, although they may be excellent for certain profiles of business. There are some important essentials you need to consider when choosing a web host, and we’ve detailed these below to make it easy for you to understand the assessment process when getting online.
This is perhaps the biggest factor to consider when choosing a web host. If your website goes down, you need to be able to talk to someone, use a live person chat functionality, or have a ticket responded to in a matter of minutes. The tech professionals at the other end of the line also need to have the knowledge and skills to get you back online fast.
One excellent way to work out who has good technical support is to read reviews and look at the online reputation of some different companies. You could also try getting in touch at different times of the day in order to find out whether they do respond to queries. Bear in mind that the sales line is likely to be more accessible than the tech support line, so don’t mistake sales responses for the level of support you will get.
You may also like to find out if there are different levels of support you will have access to and whether the premium support is only available during specific hours. It will likely be the premium support team that solves any pressing concerns that you have.
The User Interface and Control Panel
Even people that have very little technical knowledge will want certain features incorporated into their control panel. You’ll definitely want to be able to set up email, have FTP access and probably be able to install WordPress. You don’t want to be contacting the support teams every time you need to do something.
There should be easy one-click solutions and the information you need should be available to you readily within the control panel. There are two main control panel part providers, them being Plesk and cPanel. Which do they use? Do they use some other interface? Have a play around with Plesk and cPanel demonstrations as well to make sure that you are comfortable in the environment offered.
Registration and Ongoing Fees
Many web hosting companies offer attractive offers to tie you into a domain name and hosting. When it comes to the renewal period 12 months later, these fees may triple. Make sure you understand the true cost of registration and don’t get sucked into a provider with excellent upfront costs but onerous long-term fees.
If you’re going for a shared hosting provider to start off with, then consider the ability you will have to scale and any costs for upgrades. If you have to change provider at any point due to the hosting you take being inadequate as you scale your business, there will be fees associated with this process including migration of files and databases. You need to factor all of this into the equation in order to understand the true cost of the web host you are choosing.
Violations and Terms of Engagement
Web hosting companies have certain terms that will lead to violation of account services and the discontinuation of your web hosting. These terms of service can mean that your website goes down if you’re using too much of the CPU through scripts, or if you are affected by malware. If your site is pulled, you need to be able to get it back up.
If the web hosting company is extremely tight on offenders and will simply delete your files, you could end up losing a lot of work. Look at the terms of engagement of the company, including how suspension decisions are made and account limitations are implemented to ensure that a problem on your end doesn’t end up in a catastrophe.
Email Options and E-Commerce
You need email service within the web hosting infrastructure. Your domain name should be included in the email that you use. This is simply a truism in order to build your online reputation. Find out whether you need to pay extra if you want to run a heavy email account on the server.
If you receive a lot of drawings or large files, for example, you’re a roofing company with architect drawings or medical practice with x-rays and other imaging, you need to factor in the price of the entire package and any upgrades you may need to buy. This really falls under scalability.
You may also need certain technologies if you are running an e-commerce business. Are you going to run your site on Shopify, Magento or another platform? Make sure the database technology is suitable, and that the operating environment is the best for the technology you’re going to use. If in doubt, ask experts to help you make the right choice for your hosting.
You also need to consider the speed of the web host and uptime if you are running a business where reputation matters and downtime can cause missed sales and lost prospects.
In this day and age, there are more and more attacks on websites. As well as considering the policy of web hosts with regards to account violations and attacks, you need to look for a host that is able to help you stay protected.
You should have the option to have your website backed up daily in case anything goes wrong. If you have built a website and suddenly it’s gone, it can take weeks to get things back online, and this occurrence has seen many organisations go out of business. Factor in the cost of daily backups if they aren’t automatic.
HTTPS has become the standard in commercial websites. What provision is made by the web host in order to secure the data sent through the hosting service? Having a secure website is also a ranking factor in the search engines, so it’s really important that you have the provision and understand the cost implications of securing your website domains.
If there are regular scans of your server to check for malware and attacks, you are less likely to have security issues related to the threats that are out there. You can also get a SiteLock badge that will inspire trust in your customers that you are doing what you need to do to protect their data.
You need to weigh the different options and understand the different cost implications of the web hosting providers you are looking at. You need to think about scale, the extras you are going to need, and the reliability of the host. Make sure you are comparing like for like and don’t get caught out with hidden extra costs that come in due to functionality that you absolutely need for your business.