You might have a world-class website, with amazing functionality, engaging content and an array of products on sale that are guaranteed to set the marketplace on fire, but if you can’t depend on your website hosting provider, then it’s all for naught. For companies that conduct some or all of their business online, choosing the right web host is imperative. There are many issues to consider, any or all of which might have a bearing on your website’s performance. Here’s what you need to be thinking about…
Simply put, can you depend on your site to be available to visitors? Many hosting companies guarantee a certain level of uptime – you want to be looking for 99.9% at a minimum. Any less than that and you are losing out on days, possibly weeks, of business opportunity. It’s worth canvassing opinion online about various providers before you make a choice – if there are any horror stories of servers going down during the Christmas rush, or unscheduled maintenance putting a site out of service for days at a time, then you should investigate further to find out if these are valid concerns. In many cases it’s probably best going with the largest and most experienced operators.
What kind of service can you expect if you encounter a problem with your website – say it gets hacked or pages seem to be loading too slowly for your liking with a busy sales period approaching. How do you contact your web host’s support team for help? Email alone is not sufficient, for instance, in case your broadband goes down. You should be looking at phone, email and some kind of online messaging system, and availability 24/7/365.
Harmful DDoS attacks are on the rise, and a major concern for almost every type of organisation nowadays. If your business falls victim to one, it could be more than just some joker in his bedroom having fun – it could be a smokescreen allowing for hackers to access your sensitive customer data while your IT team are distracted. Your website provides a window to your network, so you need a hosting company that takes security against DDoS attacks and other threats proactively, deploying the most up-to-date software and backing up data several times a day.
What kind of response times can you look at for site visitors requesting web data? Many web hosts will offer ‘unlimited bandwidth’ which, while it may not strictly be totally infinite, should certainly be enough to ensure that your pages load quickly even as your site grows and your traffic increases. It’s a good way of future-proofing your website because you never know – maybe your little e-commerce store will one day be the next Amazon.
Speaking of growth potential for your business, assuming your site is hosted on a shared server to begin with, inexpensively, should you require extra space or functionality, how easy is it for you to get that? Or even to move across to a dedicated server should you have the need? Start-up businesses in particular may be small to begin with but can shoot up in size dramatically in a short space of time, sometimes unexpectedly. Can your web host deal with that?
Will your web host help you out with other essentials – things like sitebuilder software, or domain name registration? You should ensure you have control over your domain name so that if you decide to switch host for any reason, like they don’t come up to scratch on any of the above, you don’t need to change it. Little extras that won’t cost you more, and will cut out a lot of hassle for you.