What to Look For in a Web Host
:: By Kelly Meeneghan, 1&1 Internet, Inc. ::
Creating a website for your business is a strong first step to gaining success online. However, a key factor to consider in your business strategy lies behind the face of the website and focuses on the support behind your online presence. No longer considered a simple online business card or added bonus, a reliable and professional website is a necessity if businesses want to succeed. Therefore, making the selection process for the perfect Web host for your needs is all the more important.
Web hosts can range from the small local providers to international giants, all varying in services, products and prices. As a Web professional, it is essential to choose a host that will work best for your project, budget and needs. While it may seem more comforting to remain with the host you already are working with, you might be missing chances to take your website to the next level. As the industry evolves, so do the standards and opportunities on the Internet. Below are five tips to keep in mind when deciding which Web host will work best for your needs.
1. Customer Service
Whether you are still learning about the hosting world or are a season veteran, customer service is always a priority. It is important to look at the avenues of communication that the Web host offers. Be sure to notice the hours the help team is available via phone and their engagement and response rate on social media. It is most beneficial to have the ability to access well-educated IT experts around the clock. With the ever changing environment of the IT industry, this knowledgeable team will be able to guide you throughout the process with ease.
An error code on a website can be damaging for any online business. Downtime rate and prevention strategies should be looked at seriously when comparing Web hosts. In cases of necessary maintenance or unexpected failure, the downtime to a professional website can deter consumers away from the business. Redundancy, or dual hosting, is an ideal solution that allows your information to be stored on two servers, in two different geographically located data centers. Therefore, on the off chance that something would directly affect one data center, your site and hosted data is automatically switched to its “sister server,” ensuring that your website is constantly operating and is accessible.
While traditional hosting may be the best option for some, others may require the backend support of a server. As your business grows, so will your online needs, but your payments do not always have to. Flexible cloud solutions are ideal for many businesses that possess characteristics like expectation of growth, seasonal surges, need for accessibility, changes in demand or improved management of IT costs. The concept puts you in the driver’s seat and allows you to scale your resources as needed, even on an hourly basis. For example, if you are a seasonal retailer, you can select to have more RAM and hard disk space configured for your busy months, like the holiday season, then scale back in your off months. Flexible hosting gives the opportunity to utilize optimal resources when needed, without having to pay for it year round.
4. Security and Back-Up
Many businesses, especially smaller ones, do not have the luxury of starting over again. Long hours are dedicated to making sure that the hard work and dedication put into the business strategy will help it succeed. Simple mistakes in the website creation process could be detrimental to a business. For example, forgetting to close a parenthesis while coding can help facilitate malicious activity from hackers. Security options like SiteLock features can help prevent against such situations with routine scans for vulnerabilities and steps to improve. Additionally, Web professionals often need to experiment with resources for different projects. With back-up or “snapshot” features available through Web hosts, cloud server users can save server configurations and reinstate it at their own convenience. Different back-up features allow you the freedom to make changes and explore staging options without the fear of losing any work or having to start from scratch.
When comparing side-by-side Web hosts, be sure that all necessities are met. While some providers offer expensive options and others are more affordable, there is no universal option. The Web hosting industry has traveled leaps and bounds to stay ahead of the latest trends and consumer needs. Your needs may start with simple hosting, but as it grows, so will the need to expand the infrastructure through more complex solutions such as dedicated servers, cloud servers or increased security and advancement. The best option is one that fits your needs but refrains from being distracted by extra bells and whistles if they are not essential for your business plan.
The Web host selection process is an inevitable process for a majority all professionals, from small business owners to website developers. It is important to be confident in the Web host chosen and know that your hosting solution that will work best for the needs of your business while incorporating budget, services and projected growth.
About the Author
Kelly Meeneghan is a manager for 1&1 Internet, Inc. (www.1and1.com). As a global leader among Web hosts, 1&1 provides businesses with the tools necessary to get online and be successful. Meeneghan is also a regular contributor for Website Magazine.