Selecting a hosting company from all the providers out there can be a difficult choice for any aspiring Internet entrepreneur, especially if you don’t know much about web sites and hosting. The first thing you should do is find out as much as you can about prospective hosting companies and the different packages they provide. Then you can better assess some of these important aspects to choosing a hosting provider that meets your expectations.
It’s pretty easy to set up a web hosting company; all you need is a server and a dedicated Internet connection. There are also companies that offer reseller hosting accounts, which means they have other people selling space on their servers under a different name.
As the relative memory cost has dropped, the prices for web hosting have tumbled to the point where one can start a web site for a dollar or two (or less) per month. The drawback is that many of these are fly-by-night companies don’t have the level of support that’s needed. That cheap host may include the risk of servers constantly going off-line, with the result that your website’s disappearances drive visitors to look elsewhere. Some of these companies may go out of business on short notice, leaving you scrambling to backup your site and find a new host.
As you narrow down your choices, do a Google search to find out who you’re dealing with. How long have they been in business? What kind of guarantees can they provide? Perhaps most importantly, what do reviews from past customers have to say? You can find helpful summaries from sites like http://www.pcmag.com/article2/0,2817,2424725,00.asp.
Service and Support
No matter what promises they make, or the bargains they offer, when it comes to web hosting what you want after reliability is support. At some point things go wrong – corrupt files, forgotten passwords, typos in configuration files – that brings an abrupt halt to your online enterprise. Often you have no choice but to turn to your hosting provider ASAP for help. It could happen at lunch or at 5 am on Christmas morning. You’ve got to have access to 24/7 customer support. And they have to know how to get things fixed. If not, you could be fretting for hours waiting for them to set things right again. Before you lay down a year or two of pre-paid hosting fees, find out how you get in touch with their customer support – and how they will respond
Uptime and Hardware
All servers are NOT the same. Out-dated hardware and poor server configurations could cost you a lot of site traffic, and a lot of lost money.
A web business is a business that needs to be up and running all day, every day. You need a server that can not only handle all the traffic volume you want, but can do so without crashing, dropping connections, and freezing on page loads that will only discourage the visitors you went to a lot of trouble to attract.
A good web host knows that this is essential, and they should have not only high quality servers, but enough of them in order to provide redundancy and transfer service if one goes down. They should be capable of running the latest browsers and scripting languages that your site relies on. Sustaining speedy, reliable service and a very, very high proportion of uptime vs downtime is vital.
Check out Microsoft’s recommendations on Internet server hardware: https://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/cc268240.aspx
Connectivity and Speed
Second in importance to availability from the servers that power your site is the backend systems that ensure communication with internal servers and remote servers around the world.
Fast page loads and 99.99% uptime are nice, but even one link that leaves customers hanging means you could lose them. The best page is next to useless without all the tools and solutions that support the functionality visitors expect.
Be sure your provider has not just the latest servers and built-in redundancy, but the level of infrastructure which allows you to serve up files, retrieve data, open multiple pages, and display animations, in a timely and efficient manner.
You know you should regularly backup your own computer files in case the worst happens, and its equally true for your web site. Even on your familiar laptop, if you to do this manually it can become quite a chore, and there’s always a chance you might overlook something important.
With a public web site, the chances of getting a virus, data corruption, or updates and plugins that do more harm than good is even greater. A good hosting company will provide an easy control panel tool or other feature that lets you backup your website files – all of your files – easily and with minimal fuss.
You might also want some assurance that they can perform regular software updates in an unobtrusive and efficient manner that will improve performance, rather than jeopardize it.
When most people look at a page they only see text, images, and other content their browser displays. As a website owner, you need to know that there are databases, operating systems, scripts, and control files that have to work together to make a site do what it does. Sometimes you’ll want to make changes to how your site looks, the way it operates, or add new functions to please visitors. You hosting platform should be able to support any or most administration, content, or
functionality changes you care to make. For example, the popular site platform WordPress recommends some simple but important requirements: https://wordpress.org/about/requirements/
Maximizing profits means keeping expenses low, so the lower your hosting fees, the better. However, skimping on the wrong things means cheating yourself. If the cheapest alternative seems like the greater risk of downtime or greater limitations on what you can do with your own site, it’s definitely worth it to spend a little more for a host that’s a little better.