Every business today needs a website to be able to compete with its rivals.
A good web host is however needed to help make the site live online, and accessible by all. This means finding the right web hosting company. Although you might be spoiled for choice with various web hosts, you need to identify just the right host for your website. Several factors and considerations have to be made before deciding on a host. Factors such as performance, security, reliability, and popularity should be considered when shopping for a web hosting company.
Going for the wrong web host, or just the wrong package can hurt your business performance among several other factors. That said, you don’t want to decide in haste, but instead, take your time to identify the right service provider for your needs. Outlined below are some of the critical things to consider when shopping for a web hosting provider.
You will need a reliable service provider capable of ensuring your website doesn’t go down at any given time. You cannot risk having your website go down simply because you chose the wrong hosting provider. For starters, you will start losing potential clients, popularity and google rankings if you suffer the same.
For this reason, you need a provider that has at least 99.9% uptime and capable of delivering just that. To put it in another perspective, 0.1% downtime in a month equates to 43 minutes of your valuable time. There are times when downtime is inevitable. Some of the best service providers have a way of keeping your website running and up even if a server fails. These providers use hardware failover through raid-10 configuration that offers both acceleration and redundancy.
2. 24/7 Customer Support in Your Language
Excellent customer support is one of the crucial factors to consider when choosing a web hosting company. For a company to have an excellent support team, it needs to provide easy ways to submit a ticket, email, or even an instant response to queries. Some companies take too long to respond to a ticket, while others are pretty good at it. Test the customer support system to see how fast they respond to queries, whether you will be put on hold for hours on the phone, as well as how fast they act on time-sensitive issues.
In addition to a swift response by customer support, it would be best to ensure they can communicate in the language of your choice. This makes communication much easier.
You need an assurance that your website is protected and safe from hackers and other malicious people. With hundreds of malicious people and even rival companies, looking to steal your data, security is paramount for any website. A good web host should be able to provide:
Web Application Firewall: A firewall helps keep hackers, malware, and viruses at bay. A strong firewall should be able to repulse hackers thus making it almost impossible for them to exploit any vulnerabilities your website might have.
DDoS Protection: Commonly known as Distributed Denial of Service, this is a cyber attack that targets servers by sending requests simultaneously with the primary aim of overloading them. Reputable hosting companies put in measures to help protect their servers and clients from DDoS attacks.
Anti-malware Protection: DDoS protection and a strong firewall aren’t enough to keep your website and data safe. The host’s servers need to be scanned for hacker activity, malware, and viruses regularly to ensure client are protected.
Brute-force Protection: This is a security measure that helps protect websites from unwanted guests, as well as limit the number of failed login attempts.
Two-factor Authentication: This is a safety measure put in place to create an extra layer of protection to the website. Users have to use a secondary password to access the service.
Regular Automatic Updates: WordPress, among other content management systems, provide frequent and automatic updates which help fix any security loopholes in the system. A good web host should provide a similar feature to ensure hackers don’t manipulate loopholes if any.
4. Storage and Bandwidth
The amount of storage offers determines how much content you can store on the servers. This includes videos, images, files, pages, and databases, as well as emails. Bandwidth dictates the number of visitors that the side can accommodate in a month, and the number of downloads or video streaming users can stream from the site.
If running a small or medium sized business/website, a few gigabytes worth of storage should be enough to put up with your needs comfortably. The same cannot, however, be said for large eCommerce websites where users will stream, download, or even upload content frequently to the site. You will automatically need more bandwidth and storage to be able to accommodate all these services. You will also need more disk space if considering to create multiple mailboxes or store lots of emails for your employees.
If possible, consider a web host that offers unlimited bandwidth and storage for your website, and at an affordable price. You however need to be careful not to fall for companies that have usage policies in play, whereby they include ‘fair play’ clauses to their agreements to protect their systems from misuse and abuse. To be on the safe side, contact the web host to discuss the terms of service before making the final decision.
5. SSL Security
The visitors too need to be protected from hackers too. Many sites today have adopted HTTPS which is more secure than HTTP. The additional ‘s’ is known as an SSL certificate that protects both the visitors and websites.
Secure Socket Layer (SSL) helps by encrypting the information being exchanged between the website and visitors. This makes it harder for anyone from intercepting or even eavesdropping. In addition to keeping the site and visitor protected, SSL plays a huge role in search engine ranking for the said website as well. This can be seen with various web browsers, such as Google Chrome that displays a ‘not secure’ warning on the address bar if you try to log on to an unsecured website.
The best web hosting companies bundle SSL certificates automatically with their plans. This is commonly known as AutoSSL.
6. Backups and Restores
A good web hosting company handles data backup every day as an extra measure to ensure client data is safe. This makes it possible or you, the client, to be able to restore data quickly and efficiently should you delete a file accidentally, or if your website is hacked. Automated daily backups for emails, databases, and websites is a common feature with many service providers today.
Backup retention is another factor you need to consider when choosing a web host. Although some companies keep the backup data for significantly longer, there are those that will only keep the backed-up date for some time, say five days. This means you won’t be capable of retrieving any data more than five days old.
For data backup to be efficient, it needs to be done daily and performed on different machines. This gives you extra protection should the web host’s backup be corrupted or compromised. This is what many term as external backups.
7. Professional Email
Professional email enables you to promote your company whenever you sent out an email. It doubles up as a communication and marketing tool for the business.
Some hosting providers include one or more email accounts at your domain name in their hosting plans. You might, however, have to pay for the same service with other hosting companies as well. It would, therefore, be wise to consider a provider offering email as part of the package.
Simply having a professional email service isn’t enough for the business. The service provider needs to ensure its Emailing system is reputable enough and not marked as spam. Some professional emails end up in the recipient’s junk mail, never to be opened. A reputable company will however ensure they have an efficient anti-spam, antivirus, and anti-malware system to help protect your email from such.
Almost everyone gets impatient when a page takes too long to load. The average user will only wait for 4 seconds for a page to load; otherwise he will hit the back button. That said, you need to choose a web host offering faster loading times.
Several factors need to be considered when looking for a fast web host. These include:
The storage type: Web hosts use Solid State Drives (SSDs) and Hard Disk Drives (HDDs) to store data on their servers. SSDs are considerably more reliable and faster as compared to HDDs, hence the most recommended option for servers. In addition to this, solid-state drives consume less energy while offering incredible speeds.
Data caching: This is known as specialized acceleration technology that helps improve a website’s load time significantly. When appropriately implemented, caching can help a page load 100 times faster. Be sure to check the load times offered by a service provider before making the final decision.