Picking a web host is a critical step to the success of your web launch. Get hooked up with the right one and you’ll be having carefree access to the internet masses, get hooked up with the wrong one and be prepared for frustration and lots of lost business.
When you look to get a web hosting service, the following are some of the most important technical aspects you’ll want to learn about before you sign on the dotted line.
At the end of the day, uptime is going to be the most critical consideration in your choice. You want a service that will give you as close to 100% uptime as possible. A host may be using top-of-the-line servers equipped with the fastest CPU, RAM and storage devices, but that can all be useless if they can’t guarantee your website will be up and accessible via the internet around the clock.
A good web host these days ranks at the 99.9%+ uptime level. Be sure you check for uptime guarantees under the service-level agreement (SLA) before you commit.
You want to make sure there are no hidden gimmicks when it comes to getting bandwidth. Plenty of web hosting providers will lure you with “unlimited” bandwidth only to hit you with costly upgrades if your site gets popular and scores lots of hits.
Do not take that unlimited bandwidth promise literally because it isn’t. It generally means there aren’t hard limits on the bandwidth your site can consume within a certain month as long as it falls within their fair use policy.
The definition of “fair use” is often vague and subject to the company’s own discretion. This is why it is arguably better to choose a plan with a predefined amount of bandwidth so that you know exactly what you’re paying for and what to expect.
The top priority of every website owner is to keep growing and amassing new visitors/customers. As that happens, your site’s needs for server resources can quickly outgrow what your current plan offers and the time comes for an upgrade.
In case of shared hosting, you’d normally have the option to upgrade or downgrade between a few fixed plans. These are often limited options and eventually you’re gonna have to move your site to a more advanced hosting solution, such as a dedicated server or a virtual private server (VPS).
As far as scalability is concerned, VPS hosting is hands down the clear winner as you can virtually add or remove as many server resources as needed. But not all VPS services are equally scalable. Those that are built on cloud infrastructure offer the highest level of flexibility and scalability.
If you are launching a new app or an e-commerce store that you have big plans for, a cloud virtual server could be the most cost-effective hosting solution to consider. You can start small and then seamlessly scale up when your business plans pan out.
Any time you deal with technology you’re going to have issues. It’s just the nature of the beast. So you want to make sure that when you do get into a jam you’ve got someone there pulling for you. A good web host will offer you customer/technical support 24/7. The staff should be knowledgeable about their services and have a good bedside manner when your website gets sick.
Make sure you’re comfortable with the sales and support staff you interact with while you’re looking around. Sometimes it only takes a couple of questions to get a good idea of what kind of support agents a company hires; skilled and helpful agents, or inept and useless staff who don’t seem to even bother to fully read your questions.
More likely than not, you will be using WordPress as your site’s content management system. Most newly created websites these days are powered by WordPress, which is without doubt the most versatile, flexible and easy-to-use CMS you can find.
But one thing that is not so likable about WordPress is that it consumes a lot of server resources. That’s why WordPress-optimized hosting plans usually come with higher limits on server resource usage — and yes, that’s one of the main reasons for the premium price tag.
Depending on the complexity of your website and the amount of traffic it receives, you’ll need a plan that offers enough CPU processing power, memory space, and database connections for your users/visitors to enjoy a smooth and fast browsing experience.
The top WordPress hosting services in the industry have their server infrastructure and software fully optimized to offer fast processing and loading of even the most technically demanding e-commerce WordPress sites.
There are several advantages that WordPress hosting offers to small businesses over regular shared hosting, and these are explained in more detail in a recent post on Geek Hut.
Prices aren’t always the lowest. More importantly, you want value. Sure, cheap is always appealing but when you get beneath the surface of the flashy offers, you need to know what’s really there to power your site to the top.
For example, SSD storage may cost you a few extra dollars per month, but the improvement in performance and speed you get compared to HDD storage would be well worth every penny.
Get a host that you’re comfortable with for your budget, but don’t paint yourself into a corner by hooking up with the cheapest plan as the only factor. Most companies will offer you a few plan options to meet your needs and give you the opportunity to upgrade painlessly if needed.
For as long as there have been internet sites, there have been people who love to hack them for whatever reason. You don’t want to get your website hacked, so check out what your hosting service does for security.
Look for essential security features such as a firewall, DDoS protection, malware scanning and others. Also ask about how they manage software updates and upgrades. Your host’s ability at keeping the servers updated and healthy means that your site will be ready to serve your content on demand with minimal risks of hacks or hiccups.
There are plenty of web hosting options for you to choose from. If you take some time and do your research, you’ll end up with a smart choice that’ll keep your site up and humming on the web while you focus all of your energy on promoting and growing your online business.