Are You SURE You’re Using the Right Web Hosting?
If you’re like most business owners, it’s the hundreds of little things that keep you up at night after the office has closed for the day. One of those “little things” we often hear about is the concern over web hosting.
“How do I know I’m using the right host for my website?”
Unless you have spent time educating yourself on the latest technology (and it constantly changes), you are probably unaware of the best route to go with web hosting because you’re busy running your company. I’m a believer that we should be investing our time and energies into our strengths and let other professionals handle unfamiliar areas if those areas would suck up too much of our precious time to self educate.
Allow us to offer you 7 tips to ensure you’re with the best web host so you can check off one of those “little things” and get some peace of mind:
First of all, What Is Web Hosting?
A website host is a company providing services to ensure your website is visible, operational and secure online. If your website is “down,” users can’t access it. There are many providers offering web hosting services ranging from free to hundreds of dollars each month. So how do you decide which is right for you?
1. Pricing Options
With all the expenses that come with running a business, this factor is important when choosing a host. We all want a great value, but you also get what you pay for.
- Virtual Private Servers (VPS) are an option for those who understand server software. For example, if your website ever goes down, you are solely responsible for fixing it. This service starts around $.08/hour and is the best choice for those of you wanting to build your own server for the purpose of having your site as sole user of resources. With a VPS, you set it up exactly as you want, controlling all settings and specifications.
- Entry level shared hosting around $6/month is going to get you ads, slow load time on your website, poor security, and downtime. This option is typically for starter bloggers or simple, small websites with very little traffic. Mid level shared hosting on the other hand is similar, costing around $10/month, but will get you slightly faster load time, no ads and website up time with better security. Many small businesses fall into this category.
- Mid level managed hosting usually costs under $100 and will ensure troubleshooting when bugs arise, speed of your website, security, and guarantees up time. This option is for those companies wanting a hands off approach, where everything is handled by your host.
- Business class and professional hosting usually require a dedicated server typically running over $100/month. This option is particularly helpful when companies have a lot of traffic on their website. This also includes cloud based servers.
Most web hosting services are moving toward unlimited monthly bandwidth these days, and that’s the best value for your website especially if you are a growing business. Some hosts still allocate how much bandwidth you get each month and if you exceed that, you are expected to pay for the overage. Compare options. It might save you money to start with an allocated amount, then when your website traffic picks up, switch to a hosting package that offers unlimited bandwidth so your website doesn’t lose visitors.
Did you know Google penalizes websites in SEO for slow loading time? Or that users will leave your website after just 3 seconds if your site takes too long to load?
You can’t afford to lose customers because of something that can be so easily fixed. Some of the snail speed is due to poor programming and large file sizes on your website, but other times it’s your web hosting server.
Choosing a host with a locale of data centers close to you and your users is an important factor for website speed. The closer they are, the faster the speed. But also be careful of cheap hosting services because though they won’t tell you, one of the reasons they can get away with charging so little is because they don’t have up to date server hardware and their internet connection is low end.
4. Number of Domains
Does your website have several landing pages? How about many domain names pointing to the same website? Consider this when choosing a web hosting package because some only allow for single domains whereas others support unlimited domains. Again, you get what you pay for.
5. Backup Services
Imagine your website going down or having a security breach that results in lost content and a mess of your website. Who should be able to restore your website to its last updated condition? Your web hosting service. If they can’t do this for you, they are not offering backup services. This one’s a must have service in your hosting package. A reputable host will backup daily, weekly or monthly depending on the price level you choose.
At the very least, you should be implementing a third party backup service like BackupBuddy (which runs about $80/year for services that cover your database, all site files, and gives you the ability to restore those backups to your same server or migrate your site to a new host. There are also free backup services like Backup WordPress that are nearly as good, but not as feature rich.
A reputable web hosting service will provide you with malicious file scanning, intrusion detection, and a shared SSL certificate (or a private SSL and IP). But the responsibility of security doesn’t solely rest on your host’s shoulders. Your web agency should be assessing your site to ensure proper security measures are in place.
7. Web Hosting Support & Customer Service
I have been a customer of Verizon Wireless for years. Yes, they are undoubtedly the most expensive cell phone carrier out there, but they know their stuff. Every time I have called in for an issue, their customer service team is on it and my problems are fixed in 15 minutes or less. I joke that they are actually droids programmed to know every cell phone answer. It’s inhuman to know that much.
As unfamiliar as you might be with web hosting, don’t you want customer service like that? Do a little research before committing. How easy is it to get a hold of someone for tech support? Do they only offer forums or a FAQs page, or is email support an option? Personally, I prefer live chat because there’s no substitute for being able to talk with a human being (who speaks fluent English).
So here are our top picks for web hosting services you might want to consider:
- FlyWheel – Best Managed Host for speed, support and security for WordPress websites
- Westhost – Best low budget value for the money with packages starting under $8/month and offering unlimited hosting space and a money back guarantee
- Rackspace – Best customer service. Best for dedicated servers.
- Amazon – Best VPS starting free for one year.
Do you have any warnings to share about a web hosting company you dealt with? How about words of praise for a reputable host? Add your comments below.