In my experience, most folks looking to get their new or existing business online have no idea what web hosting is or why they need it. But there is more to getting your business online that registering a domain name and finding someone to build your site. Without a Web hosting service, your website will not be accessible on the internet.
This article will help you to better understand what Web hosting is and how to choose the right company for you.
So, what is what Web hosting? Well, it is simply a service that provides storage space for your Website on a server that is connected to the internet so that the world has access to it online. Your domain name, much like your home address, is the address where that website lives. This is how browsers find your website.
Why can’t you host your site from your home or office computer, you ask? Well technically you could, but it would be much more expensive. Your typical internet service for a home or office is not built for the kind of traffic a website could generate. Because of this, you would most likely incur large overage fees. A professional web host can provide this service much cheaper, faster and most importantly more secure.
You can usually find a hosting service from about $2.95 per month on up, depending on the type of hosting and resources you need. Advanced features and extra resources will affect your pricing. For better performance and more reliable security, a Virtual Private Server (VPS), rather than shared hosting, is recommended. VPS service is just a few dollars more per month but absolutely worth it. Stay tuned for my upcoming article on how you can learn more about the difference between shared, VPS and dedicated hosting.
Now that you have a better idea of what and why you need Web hosting, let me help you figure out how to choose the right company for you. The following is a list of things I suggest looking into before deciding on a web hosting company.
- How long have they been around?
Find out when the company was established. Look at what they tell you in the company info page and maybe check out when they registered their domain name and business license. If this Website is your business and you rely on it for the well being of you, your family and others, then you need to be sure that the company has been around long enough to know what they are doing, has worked out all of their kinks, is reliable and not going anywhere.
- How are their reviews?
Do a quick Google search for reviews on the company you are considering. You may be surprised at what you find. However, please keep an open mind as most folks tend to only leave a review when they’re unhappy with their service. The satisfied customers just go about their busy lives, so naturally, you are going to see more negative reviews than positive.
- How is their customer service?
Test out their customer service. You will find that good customer service is very hard to find these days. We get a lot of our customers wanting to leave their current host based on that alone. Do they offer 24/7 support? If not I suggest choosing a host that is in your time zone or at least in the time zone that is within the business hours that you tend to work. Otherwise getting a response will take much longer. Give them a call and chat with a rep. Ask questions about your specific needs and pay close attention to how they answer. Do they sound truly knowledgeable about what they doing or are they fumbling their way through the answer? Send them an email and see how long it takes to get a real response, not just an auto response. Also, check to see if they have a live chat feature on their site for immediate assistance. This is a real plus in my book.
- Are their prices competitive?
Take some time to compare their prices to other hosts. And remember you get what you pay for. That being said, an expensive service doesn’t necessarily mean the best either.
- Do they require a long-term contract?
In this day and age, if a long-term contract is required, walk away! The only reason a company would require a contract is if their service is questionable and without that signed commitment, you would find a better host for your Website. However, a lot of companies will offer discounted rates if you do choose a pre-paid subscription.
There are so many Web hosts around the world and it can be daunting trying to figure out even where to begin your search. It may be best for you to start locally. Ask friends, colleagues, and check out your local Chamber of Commerce to see if there is a Web host in or around your neighborhood that you can support. The other advantage to that is they will most likely support your business right back. Bonus!