When you’re launching a business or planning to move your offline business to the web, you confront several significant choices. Chief among these is selecting a web host.
Given dozens of reliable providers, how can you know which is best for your business? The last thing you want is to get stuck with an unreliable host that compromises your operations.
When you’re searching for the right web host, these are a few of the most critical elements to consider.
When looking at hosting providers, you should start by checking their options. Most of the major providers offer individual plans, dedicated server options, and reseller accounts, but some of the smaller niche firms offer only a limited array of plans. Knowing which type of web hosting plan will work best for you will enable you to zero in on your top options.
One of the most important items to investigate is reliability. Does the provider you’re looking at guarantee a certain high percentage of uptime, or does it have a reputation for running unreliable servers? If your website goes down for even an hour or two, that cost you hundreds or thousands of dollars.
The reputation a provider has achieved regarding its reliability will tell you a lot. A 100% uptime guarantee is probably unrealistic, but you’ll want to work with a provider that aims to get as close to that as possible.
If your main criterion is price, you won’t end up selecting the best host - just the cheapest. But that’s not to say price doesn’t matter. After weighing the other factors and narrowing your list to a handful of hosts, price can point you in a particular direction. Although every site advertises a sticker price, it’s worth considering the extras.
According to Sophia Zlatin, Marketing Manager for iPage, “You should look for someone who offers additional plan extras such as a free domain, advertising credits, and advanced security software, in order to get the most out of your investment.”
Don’t underestimate the importance of good customer service and tech support. While the hope is that you won’t need a lot of support if you choose a reliable host, you’ll likely run across an occasional issue. Find a host with multiple contact options -- including a 24/7 phone line, chat support, and email support -- and read its testimonials regarding helpfulness and speed.
What sort of features and add-ons does the host have to offer? For example, is there a complimentary website building tool, security software, or complimentary data backups? The web hosting industry is plenty competitive, so every provider looks for ways to differentiate its service offerings. Take advantage of this by finding the one that will benefit you most.
What good is a web host if you can’t figure out how to operate the features in your account? When you’re trying to decide between two or three different hosts, don’t forget to check out what the user interface looks like and whether it’s sufficiently intuitive to suit your needs.
Finally, don’t overlook the contract terms. When you sign up with a host, review the fine print and ask about your commitment. You might be required to stay with the host for a predetermined period of time, or be forced to pay a penalty. While it’s common for web hosts to hold customers to a contract, you’ll want to know what those terms and conditions are from the start.
Why a reliable host matters
Don’t underestimate the value of a reliable web host. By choosing the right one, you can reduce downtime, cut wasted hours on the phone trying to resolve issues, and focus on what truly matters to your business: driving traffic to your website and converting leads. Ultimately, it’s up to you to choose the host that best fits your needs.
While everyone has his own opinions and beliefs regarding the host that provides the best services, you’ll have to determine what makes the most sense for your company. Regardless of which host you go with, remember to analyze the seven vital factors above before you make your decision.