In today’s global business culture web hosting is crucial to success. Businesses live or die by their server uptime, as potential customers expect 24/7 access to a business’ website. Downtime means a loss in traffic and as a consequence a loss in sales, something no business wants to happen. Security, bandwidth, reliability and cost are the key factors to consider when looking for a web host, although there are others to take into account.
Server Uptime / Reliability
The primary requirement when picking a web host is 24/7 operation. The host has to be operating on a powerful server with stable network connections. At or above 99.5% is the acceptable uptime score; anything below 99% is not.
There are a variety of different ways of to review uptime info for hosts. A good choice can be found here. Uptime Robot will give you a wealth of information, from response times over the last 24 hours to a review of overall uptime over a given time period.
Server Pricing – Signup vs Renewal
Hosting deals are normally sold at a low cost on signup but charge a much higher price on renewal. Sadly this is just the industry norm, and unless you are willing to switch hosts on a regular basis, there is no way to avoid the higher renewal price. Always check the Terms of Services when looking at prices and make sure you do a thorough comparison of not only the signup cost but also renewal cost of all your options.
The other aspect in terms of money when looking for a host is the refund policy. It is important to know how your host handles customer refunds so that you don’t lose out too much when (not if) things go wrong. Some hosting companies charge extortionate cancelation fees even during their trial periods; avoid these companies at all cost.
An oft-overlooked aspect of choosing a host are their available hosting features. The following in particular stand out: Cron for everyday operations, Auto Script Installer for easy web app installations and updates, .htaccess for security/page redirect purposes, Server Side Include for easier site maintenance, and FTP access for easy file transfer. Do not go with a host that does not have these.
A personalized e-mail address rather than a generic e-mail address (@gmail.com etc) provides an air of professionalism in business. If you are hosting a website for the purpose of advertising a business, you should check to see if the hosting package comes with e-mail hosting. While there are other options (looking at you Google E-mail Apps) to add e-mail to your own domain, it removes hassle to have it from the get-go.
There will be times when your site crashes. It could be a server issue, a security breach or any web hosting backup. If the web host does site backups regularly then there should be nothing to worry about when these incidents occur, as your host should be able to restore in full your site. Always check what the policy on backups is before signing up.
Just as the server being operational should be 24/7, so should the customer support. Some prefer over-the-phone support, some prefer e-mail and others live chat. Whatever your preferred form of contact, what should be uniform across the board is instant access to help. As with everything else, read into this before signing up.
Different sites and business will have different requirements when it comes to web hosting. The underlying fact is that you can do all the research you want, but nothing beats trusted sources. Look at relevant respectable outlets for reviews and advice and you won’t go wrong when choosing your web hosting.