Web Hosting: one of the most crucial decisions for your website

Reliable web hosting is an important part of building a website. A web hosting company is the first major step in how your website is perceived by your customers. Your customers want the ability to access every area of your website at any time. Read this how to, step by step guide, for why web hosting is one of the most important web decisions you will make.

What is Web Hosting?

Your website files are stored on a remote computer server, which is known as a host. Every website you have ever surfed is hosted on a server. Web hosting is charged annually or monthly. The domain name of your website and the design are additional costs.

It’s crucial to choose a reliable web hosting company to ensure that your website stays secure and accessible all year round. If you experience problems with your existing provider or have no idea what needs/features to consider, below are some tips that can help.

Know Your Own Hosting Needs

Before finding the right host, spend some time considering the type of site you require and be prepared to discuss this in detail with your web company. Without it, you’ll struggle to find the right host.

Here are some questions to consider:

• What kind of website are you building?

• Do you need Windows or Linux applications?

• Do you need special software (e.g. PHP)?

• Does your website need special software (e.g. WordPress, Magento, Expression Engine etc.)?

• Is there a limit to web traffic?

• Do you need an email account?

• How many domains can you host?

These are the basics we often pose to our clients when first confronted with this decision. You also need to ponder where you will be, or aspire to be, in 12 months’ time.

Price

This is the aspect most of us will look at first when choosing a hosting provider, however, it shouldn’t be the deciding factor. Remember that you get what you pay for. Jumping on the cheapest offer you see isn’t the best idea. Things like good and reliable support, security, updates, file back-up and good quality hardware cost money, and you won’t get these features with the cheapest hosting plan. Take a closer look at the features that each host company provides, pick the one which suits your needs, and then compare prices.

Excellent customer support

Look for a provider that offers excellent customer support. Hosting providers may claim they offer 24/7 support, but this will not guarantee you will receive fast, and knowledgeable service. Test the response of the customer support staff before you sign any long term hosting contract; I would also recommend reading online reviews and testimonials.

Reputation is essential

Excellent support should be followed by a flawless reputation. Once you know your needs, the next step is to find a host with an excellent reputation.

• Find out how long the company has been in business.

• Can they provide you with testimonials from current clients? Do they have good reviews?

• Check maintenance schedules and average downtime statistics.

• Choose a host with an excellent uptime track record

The hosting provider you choose should take every precaution to ensure maximum uptime. While no web host can guarantee 100 percent uptime, it should offer at least 99 percent uptime on average.

You can simply track your web host with server monitoring tools – many of these tools are free on trial and are very easy to use.

Site Backup

There are times when websites crash. Perhaps a hacker got into your WordPress blog and replaced your index.php file, or your entire database got hacked, or the server had a hard disk failure.

If your web hosting provider does site backups then there is nothing to worry about, they should be able to restore your site.

Upgrades

As your business grows, your website will tend to generate more traffic so the ability to scale up will be increasingly important. Your web hosting provider should be able to upgrade your plan according to your needs and to accommodate any growth in traffic.

E-Commerce Features

Are you running an e-commerce website? Do you need to process business transactions on your website?

If yes, then it is important you pick a web host with sufficient e-commerce support; SSL certification, dedicated IP, and one-click shopping cart software installation, are some of the essential features/supports you will need.

Branded and personalised emails

Most people maintain separate email accounts for personal correspondence, online accounts and business correspondence. Your web hosting package should include email accounts that link to your site – this helps to organize your emails and keep them separate from other correspondence – it also makes your email address more memorable because it matches your website.

Easy to use Control Panel

A user-friendly hosting control panel is very important. It should go with all necessary features, like easy access to DNS administration panel, email account, ftp access, file manager, adding domains, access to support, etc…

Conclusion

There are a lot of web hosting companies out there. Therefore, it’s extremely important to choose a hosting provider carefully, your business will depend on it.

Remember that choosing a hosting provider purely on price isn’t worth the hassle and will cause untold headaches if your site goes down. Always try to think with a long-term perspective. Always think about the security of your website and the information contained therein. If you plan to expand your business in the near future, remember that your site traffic will grow accordingly. And always remember how this will impact your hosting plan.

If you have no experience with web hosting companies, it’s always best to talk to your your provider.

Sylwia Lukjanowska is a Creative Thinker and Web Developer at Happy Creative, a full service marketing and creative agency based in Blackpool, Lancashire. To learn more or contact us please go to www.happy-creative.co.uk

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