We live in the age of the web. Sooner or later you will find yourself in a situation where you’ll need to consider building your online presence. That’s when you’ll need to consider a web hosting service.
There are companies out there trying to lure you by promising features like unlimited resources, 24/7 technical support, virtually 100% uptime, etc. But beyond all the technical mumbo jumbo, there is still an informed decision you need to make.
So, here are 10 things you should look into before considering a particular service.
There are numerous service providers that provide similar services for different prices.
Of course there always are many different factors determining these variances in services, but you should still consider looking into a number of different choices before choosing one.
If you’re hosting a simple webpage and don’t expect a lot of concurrent traffic or bandwidth; it is always wisest to go with the cheapest of the available services. If you’re looking to host a more complicated website, consider other features too.
2. Tech support
Another important feature you need to be looking for is the tech support that the provider gives. This is a biggie for most. Imagine if your website goes down at peak traffic hour and you have no idea why or how to address the issue quickly.
Of course one could always refer to manuals for support but nothing feels as reassuring as having a real human being you can talk to and ask for help. Most services guarantee this. So you need to make sure you’re not being scammed out of it.
There are several factors you need to look into. For instance, are they available 24/7? Is the call toll free?
For most of us, this part may not make much of a difference since we are looking to host small webpages with small to medium range traffic and predictable bandwidth. However as the complexity of your web project increases and you’re going to need to do a lot more than a simple page display, you’ll need to start considering the hardware.
The CPUs, the GPUs, the RAMs, and the type of Storage (Solid State Drive vs SATA) are just a few considerations. How much computation does your web application require? And how much traffic do you expect? These are the things you need to consider beforehand.
4. Email features
This is another feature you need to consider. What email features does the provider guarantee? Regardless of what you may have heard/read about social media having replaced the purpose of web email, trust me, email is still going to a big part of your web presence.
You need to make sure that the email service you get with your hosting comes with important features like spam control, time travel feature etc. For example, many providers offer unlimited email forwarding and auto response service. It’s always a wise decision to ask the provider beforehand.
5. Control panel
The control panel is the user interface that you use to control/administer your website. It is yet another feature that your web hosting provider offers and you need to make sure you’re getting the best control panels.
If the control panel is too difficult and you need to call the hosting company every time you need to make a small change that could be a huge inconvenience for you.
So, make sure your service provider uses cPanel, Plesk or a similar services. At least make sure the control panel isn’t something you can’t figure out.
6. Shared vs private
This is another thing you need to consider. What kind of hosting are you looking for? If you’re looking to host a simple display webpage, then you’re probably going to be OK with a shared hosting service. They are cheaper and for the most part easier to operate and deal with.
Basically a shared hosting service is like sharing a server with a number of other website owners, kind of like sharing a personal computer. But if you’re looking to host a more professional or a more complicated website, private hosting is what you need.
They may be a little hard to work with and they are more expensive but it’s the price you pay for more professional hosting.
This is another important thing you need to consider when you have your business in mind. If you’re hosting a growing business, you can expect your web presence to grow with it. And a growing web presence requires an upgrade of your service. This includes everything from your hardware to the tech support.
Anyway some services like the Amazon Web Services provide automatic scalability, meaning your system is automatically updated if your current system cannot handle the incoming traffic/bandwidth. Anyway you need to be sure what kind of scalability service your provider offers.
This is a very important feature. Imagine what would happen if all your web articles, posts and other data were to be deleted as a consequence of some accident. Most service providers try to make their facilities highly reliable, but nobody plans for accidents.
For example, you could accidentally delete content yourself. In either case, most good web hosting service providers offer a solid backup feature. You need to make sure yours does too. Ask your prospective provider about their disaster recovery plan. One hosting provider, A Small Orange, for example, creates free automatic backups daily.
9. Parking service
This is sort of a bonus but it’s a great feature to have. Find out if your provider can park some of your other domain names. For most of us this might not seem like much of a big deal but it could mean a lot if you’re running a business.
Most business tend to buy a lot of domain names, usually the misspellings, the alternative names etc. of their current name. With parking services you can have all these under one control panel. This is a huge plus in terms of brand management. And it is also a great way to ensure that you never lose any traffic.
10. Exit strategy
This is a big one. You may be satisfied with your current provider but in time you could have a change of mind. You may want to host your website someplace else and in this scenario you need to be able to do that with the minimal discomfort. You should be better off choosing hosting providers like Arvixe which offer free website transfer when moving from another host.
Make sure you read the initial agreements including the fine print properly and make sure your web hosting service provider offers a viable exit strategy. Trust me, this is more important than you think it is.
Imagine what could happen to your business if your website were to go down for days just because your current provider wants to make it difficult for you to leave. You’re not having that!
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