Choosing the Best Web Hosting Service for Your Business
People often consider backend coding and front-end content as the two most crucial elements of a website. While that is true, there is also a third, silent partner of every website. The hosting provider. Choosing the best web hosting service for your business is an equally important task. However, there is plenty of room for mistakes if you don’t know what you are doing. That’s why we want to dedicate this article to show you how to recognize a quality hosting provider and save yourself a lot of trouble down the road.
Why is it important to choose the best hosting provider from the start?
When you are starting your business, you want to avoid as many mistakes as possible. Not just the ones that refer to current processes, but potential errors that can cause more problems in the future.
Choosing the wrong hosting provider means that you will have to migrate to a different one at some point. If you have successfully built your business and gained some attention, you are risking a lot.
Switching from one hosting provider to another might result in a drop in your SEO rating. It can seriously affect your business if not done the right way.
If you are in a situation where you need to change your hosting provider, this guide will show you how not to repeat the same mistake!
Know what your requirements are
Depending on your business and your niche, you might need different requirements for your website:
- Increased security;
- More bandwidth and storage options;
- A CDN network;
- Specific plans focusing on eCommerce;
- A plan that includes a content management system;
Create a list of the requirements, and speak with multiple providers before deciding which one to choose.
Know what your options are
If you are new to this game, trying to understand types of web hosting plans might make your head spin. Luckily, we are here to break it down to the finest details.
Shared hosting allows for multiple websites to reside on a single server. If you are in a partnership with other companies and are all looking for a hosting server, this is the most economical option. You will all share the cost.
Dedicated hosting also allows for multiple websites to reside on a single server. However, they are usually operated by a single company. This is a more secure version but also a more expensive one because you are leasing an entire server just for you.
In this scenario, you rent a machine that operates as a virtual private server. It is similar to dedicated hosting but a more affordable option.
If you go for managed hosting services, you will not have to do server maintenance on your own. A third party will do all the work and fully manage the implementation and other services. Keep in mind that this is only a secondary service. You still choose between hosting plans like shared, virtual, etc. However, you are getting a third party that does everything for you.
With cloud hosting, you can substantially improve your uptime. This is due to multiple servers working as informational databases and supporting your website at the same time.
If you wish to go all out, the most expensive option is colocation hosting. With this plan, you purchase specialized hardware that needs to be installed on your site. Also, you rent a physical server at a data center.
Check your payment options
Once you decide what hosting plan to purchase, you need to understand your payment options. Keep in mind that the number of features you want affects the price. This includes choosing a domain name, purchasing an SSL certificate, renting managed services, and so on.
You also need to consider for how long you are purchasing the domain. Good hosting companies offer flexible options for both monthly and yearly plans. Think about the contract length, and consider the price. Also, make sure to ask if there is a price change when you want to extend your plan for the next period.
Verify uptime guarantees
Whenever you purchase a hosting service, the provider guarantees uptime to a certain extent. This means your provider guarantees that your website will be online and operating without any issues.
However, know that not all providers define the uptime guarantees in the same way. Something that is included in the plan of one provider might be excluded from the plan with another provider.
Another thing to ask about is how they are handling the downtime. Understand what happens when your website goes offline and how much time it takes to fix the problem.
Ask about upgrade options
When you are just starting with your website, you are usually purchasing a hosting plan with basic options only. However, as you expand, you will need to upgrade your plan to a more advanced version. Understand what your upgrade options are and how the entire process happens.
Ask for a list of add-on products and services even before you purchase the basic plan. This is crucial because you don’t want to pick a hosting provider that will not be able to deliver once you require more advanced hosting features.
Review the control panel options
Once you gain access to your domain, you will also get your control panel for managing the website. It is a highly technical procedure, and you want to understand what you can and cannot do. Setting up a website can take time, so ask the provider for assistance if needed.
Ask how to contact customer support
Most quality hosting providers offer multiple customer support options. You can open a support ticket, communicate via e-mail, use a live chat option, or do a phone call.
Furthermore, have in mind that the customer support might not be in your time zone. If this is the case, make sure to ask for their working hours. Some options like live chat and phone calls are only available during the daytime.
Is your domain well secured?
Another crucial question to ask your provider is ‘How well is your domain secured?’. It is highly recommendable to purchase an SSL certificate, but you also want to know what other security options they use. As a small business, you need to think about account security and protecting your customers. If you are creating an eCommerce website, payment processing also requires specific standards. As we mentioned before, hosting providers usually have specialized hosting plans for different types of services.
Know your limitations
Just how there are basic and advanced features, there are also account limitations you must be aware of. You don’t know if the traffic of your website will rapidly grow or not. If the server cannot support it, they will put a limit on your account. They can do the same with bandwidth.
Be sure to understand these limitations before you purchase the domain.
Migrating your account to another hosting provider
It is a common situation for websites to change hosting providers. That process comes with a couple of difficulties, like maintaining your SEO rating. You also need to transfer the entire website, which can take time, especially if it has a complex structure. There could also be mistakes during the process, so be prepared for delays.
Check with the hosting provider how they go about moving a website to a new hosting account. If you are using WordPress, there is usually a procedure for an easy transfer of your website. Do not start the migration until you fully understand the entire process.
Learn about backing up your website
Creating a backup version of your website is equally important as setting it or migrating it from another hosting provider. In case something goes wrong, this is the easiest way to revert back to the working version.
Speak with your provider and see how they handle website backups. Is this a manual process, or can you automate it so that it records a new version every few days? Do you have to additionally pay for this service, or is it included in the price? How long does it take for a backup to save? If something goes wrong, how long will your website be down before the backup is active?
These are all essential questions to answer. It would be best if you thought about these situations proactively because it will save you from a lot of stress in the future.
Key takeaways for choosing the best web hosting service for your business
Let’s do a quick summary of all the things you should think about before changing your hosting provider:
- Create a plan and know your requirements;
- Understand different types of hosting plans;
- Ask about the payment options;
- Know your uptime guarantees;
- Inquire about upgrading your plan;
- Review Control Panel access;
- Check what the options for contacting customer support are;
- Verify the security of the hosting provider and your domain;
- Understand account limitations;
- Ask about the migration of your existing website to the new hosting provider;
- Know how to create a backup of your website;
The key takeaway should be to ask about everything. There are no unimportant questions; inquire even about the smallest things you can think of. Choosing the best web hosting service for your business is a big decision, and you need to do it by the book. It is a lengthy process, and you don’t want to pick the wrong provider and then have to go through the same thing again. Best of luck!