So, you have finally decided to launch your own website on the internet.
Everyone you know and every article you read, tell you to find a reliable web-hosting company; one that never fails to live up to your expectations.
But what do you really need to look for when choosing a residing place for your website?
There are hundreds of thousands of service providers out there, and a vast majority of them claim to have desired features like unlimited bandwidth and endless disk space, etc. So, besides getting spoilt for choice, you can also run the risk of choosing a company that isn’t half as dependable as they claim to be.
Not every vendor you come across has the infrastructure or the personnel that can enable you to harness your website’s maximum potential. Having high uptime scores, a knowledgeable and vigilant technical support team and rigorous security, is a lot more important than having sufficient network and hardware resources.
To truly help you weigh out your options, we have compiled a list of the most important factors that you need to consider, before choosing a web hosting provider that won’t disappoint:
How to Choose a Web Host: 8 Factors
1. Reliability And Availability
Unreliable or dated hardware and weak connections can cause your website to be offline more often. Not only does the loss of access mean inevitable loss of readership and/or sales, but it also leads to a decline in search engine ratings. A great way to gauge a company’s ability to keep your website indefinitely up and running is by looking at its historical uptime scores. Companies that have reported annual scores of 99.5% or more are often worth considering. It’s always recommended to avoid companies with scores below 99%.
Even though price is high up on our list, try hard to not make it a deciding factor, or a deal-breaker. It’s highly likely that you will observe huge differences in prices offered by various vendors.
Going for the cheapest solution isn’t always the best idea, especially not for the long-term. When reviewing potential choices, just remember that maintaining a skilled and resourceful workforce, state-of-the-art hardware and a stable network connection costs a significant amount of money; thus, a company offering you a $1.59 subscription might not have any of these. It’s vital to search for the greatest bang for the buck while remembering the age-old proverb you get what you pay for.
A sometimes-overlooked factor while choosing a web hosting provider is the server security.
Symantec reports that 1 out of every 13 web requests lead to malware and that’s why it’s imperative that you choose a solution that protects your website from cyber attacks.
Even though website security has a lot to do with the way you build and develop your website, a secure web hosting can also go a long way in keeping potential hackers at bay. Modern hosting service providers like Hostinger implement firewall rules and network monitoring processes which ensure that no harmful traffic makes its way to your web application.
Besides this, make sure that the vendor keeps their machines updated at all times and that antivirus and anti-malware scanning also takes place periodically. Lastly, user access control should also be provided by your hosting provider; it should allow only authorized people to access the administrative features of your website.
4. Competitive Advantage/Features Offered
This part deals with figuring out the list of features or the competitive advantage that a shortlisted company has, over its counterparts.
A majority of the service providers offer sufficient disk storage and a sustainable network connection, but only a handful offer supplementary features that can come in handy later on.
One such feature is an email service which allows you to set up email accounts using your domain name. A drag-and-drop website builder is another excellent feature provided by some top hosting providers.
These easy-to-use applications allow you to design and develop your own website, without having to hire a technical professional. Other features include providing access to website tools like Joomla, WordPress, Drupal, Moodle, and shopping carts, etc. Some companies also provide you direct access to ecommerce tools like OpenCart and Magento, etc.
5. Customer Service
As a novice website owner, you are likely to hit a brick wall, especially during the early days of managing a hosted website. So having access to a high response, friendly and well-trained customer service team is of primary importance.
It’s recommended to look for a company that provides 24/7 customer service, and that too, of a high quality. That said, a lot of companies advertise 24/7 support, but their agents take hours (sometimes even days) to get back to you, regarding a query. A good way to filter out providers that are likely to keep their word is by searching for any customer reviews or testimonials available online. Lastly, ensure that technical support is offered via multiple channels e.g. live chat, email, and landline, etc.
Cyber attacks like ransomware are no longer restricted to financial websites as reported by Symantec.
An unprecedented number of general websites are being targeted every day since they are often easier targets. These attacks are notorious for leaving irreversible damage on the files of a website, making it virtually impossible to restore it to its original form, in the absence of a backup.
Owing to these circumstances, it’s necessary you choose a web hosting provider that creates multiple backups of your website’s files on its server. A backup can also come in handy in case a hard disk fails or becomes corrupted.
7. Control Panel
As you start your life as a website owner, you should be ready to learn and perform tasks (like installing a new content management system, creating a new email account and installing a new plugin) yourself, regardless of how little you may know about technology.
To do this without having to pull your hair out, you would need access to a control panel like Plesk or cPanel. These well-designed web applications give you access to some of the most important website management features, via a simplistic interface.
Don’t choose a service provider that doesn’t offer you a user-friendly control panel.
Last on our list of the most important factors to consider whilst choosing a web hosting provider is scalability.
As your traffic increases, or as your sales rise, your initially chosen hosting plan might no longer sustain your needs.
So, if a hosting provider cannot accommodate you as you grow, then this can be a serious problem.
- Do they provide you with the flexibility to upgrade your subscription whenever you want?
- Do they allow you to shift from a VPS hosting to a completely dedicated one easily?
Remember that changing your hosting service is a costly and time-consuming ordeal, so to avoid doing that in the future, only join hands with a company that enables you to grow as you please.
A lot of groundwork and research should follow the selection of a reliable web hosting provider. There are many factors to consider; I mentioned some of the most important ones above.
Remember that if you spend a few extra days testing potential choices before deciding, it can save you a lot of money and time in the long run.