Today, we are in a world wherein any business requires a website. We could not have imagined such a scenario couple of decades back. In fact, businesses today cannot even afford to have a few minutes of downtime for their customers. It is therefore mission critical to choose the right web hosting service and the right web hosting provider, if you want to have a successful business.
Choosing a Web Hosting Company is not an easy decision. With plethora of companies offering all kinds of options, from local mom-and-pop shops to national providers like Go Daddy and Rackspace, most of which look similar in their offerings, like 99% uptime, unlimited resources, knowledgeable support, it is a major challenge to take a decision on the Web Hosting Company to partner with. Here are some key attributes that you would like to look at while selecting your web hosting provider:
- Area of Focus / Specialties: Look at the areas of expertise of the company before you buy a hosting service. Some offer great plans, but are not good enough for growing businesses. Similarly, others have great solutions for the enterprise, but not appropriate for a small blog. Determine your needs and select a provider based on your needs.
- Technical Specifications / Limitations: Determine your site requirements appropriately. If you want to host an e-commerce site, or a blog, rich content with videos, do not look at the cheapest hosting plan. Such a plan will not have the RAM or the processing power or the disk space to serve all the needs.
- Technical Support: This is one important consideration while determining a hosting provider. Determine the service requirements and Service Level Agreements in place for technical support from the hosting company. Determine the modes of customer support as to how the hosting service provider can be reached – email, toll free phone, chat, and so on. Do they support from in-house or outsource support? Also, technical support is crucial for many companies who require 24×7 support on email, chat or toll-free phones. Look for service providers with the desired capabilities for technical support if your applications require critical support.
- Backups: Make sure that the Web Hosting Service Provider has a Backup Plan for hosting. Also, find out what kind of disaster recovery plan does the provider follow to ensure that there is a copy of your backups.
- Uptime Guarantee: Would you like a blank screen popping up in your application instead of a valid page? You would not like such server outages. Ensure that you obtain an uptime guarantee from your hosting service provider of 99 percent or more.
- Features / Add-Ons: Are there specific features or add-ons that the hosting company has proposed which differentiates it from others? These could include the proposals for multiple data centers, energy-saving factors, or add-ons like regular data backups, free domain privacy. Look for such differentiated features in the proposal of the hosting company.
- Hardware: Review what kind of hardware is being used by the hosting company. Do they have the state of the art machines or they club old infrastructure in place?
- Customer Reviews, Satisfaction, and Reputation: You may like to ask the hosting company for references of their hosting and connect with such contacts to obtain their feedback of service by the hosting provider. You may even do a search on the internet to get a feedback directly from Internet regarding their performance, customer reviews, their satisfaction levels and complaints.
- Email features: Usually, number of features of emails are dependent on the hosting company. A Spam problem at your end could be because the Hosting Company does not take necessary steps to stop the same. Understand and obtain details of the provider’s spam solution and general email practices.
- Accessibility: There are some minimum administrative features that are required by you even if you are not tech-savvy. Such functionalities like installing WordPress, setting up email or FTP would be the minimum requirements which you should be in control. Choose the provider considering whether the provider provides appropriate interface and accessibility for you to make updates and modifications easier, and avoid an interface which is complex and confusing to use.
- Scalability: While you might be tying up with a hosting service for your small business, you should plan to study the scalability of the service which the hosting provider has offered you. Are there different offerings of service for different levels of expected vendors? Is there a flexibility to scale up from one plan to another as your business grows? These are a few pertinent questions relevant to scalability that the service provider should have an answer to.
- Pricing: This is usually the most important attribute that we look at while making a decision. Ideally, this should not be the factor on which a decision should be made. If you want your site to make money, then selecting the cheapest offer may not always be wise. Remember the adage “What you get is what you pay”, and this is true for selecting the hosting provider as well. Look at features carefully, compare their pricing based on the features, come up with a weighted algorithm based on your needs to determine the best provider.