If you plan to venture into the world of online business or have an existing business and want to carve a niche for yourself on the internet, choosing the right web host is one of the most critical decisions you’ll have to make.
The success or failure of your online enterprise will rest on the reliability, performance, security and speed of your website; all of these are tied to your choice of hosting provider, so making the wrong choice can have far-reaching consequences for your business.
To help ensure you know what you’re looking for, we’ve put together a list of some of the essential features your web host should provide.
24/7 technical assistance
There will surely come a time when regardless of your IT skills, you‘ll come across website related issues you can’t resolve on your own. When this happens, your web host should be able to provide a solution.
In today’s highly competitive internet space, any glitch that occurs on your website should be resolved as soon as possible, if not immediately. It doesn’t convey the right message to users that your website is facing challenges that can’t be resolved ASAP. Instead of visitors blaming your host, they’ll consider your business to be irresponsible and immediately begin to look elsewhere for the solutions they hitherto gleaned from your website.
Part of the research you should conduct before buying a web host is to find out if the hosting provider has the necessary skills and resources to handle any challenges that may arise.
Backups are essential for ‘disaster recovery’ and an important service every reliable web host must provide. Despite best-made plans, one can never tell when disaster will occur - from malicious cyber attacks to surprisingly innocent problems with website codes that can cause your website to crash. Such occurrences can result in the loss of all the customer information on your website, which can set you back several months. The only way to avoid this is by having a backup in place that can be used to restore your website.
Some web hosts provide backup as a premium service, while others offer it as part of their regular package. Whatever the system, it’s important you work with a web host that includes backup as part of their services. The cost of rebuilding your website from scratch - and the damage to your reputation that can occur as a result of downtime - is too much to sacrifice on a web host that doesn’t provide a backup service.
Cloud technology has made it almost impossible for websites to go offline; however, for website owners who want to use the traditional hosting options, server downtime can be a major issue. To guarantee constant uptime, it’s a prudent to look for a hosting company that has a proven record of reliable performance. Many hosting providers boast 99.9% uptime on their websites, but not all of them have what it takes to deliver this promise. Instead of accepting that assurance at face value, talk to some of their existing customers to find out their experiences with the host in question. You can also visit social media and review websites to find out what other people are saying about their services. Alternatively, you could also follow the trend and opt for a reliable Cloud hosting service.
More than 19 million websites are built using WordPress; this accounts for a large percentage of websites on the internet today. It’s highly likely that you’ll also want to build your website using WordPress, so that you too can take advantage of ‘out-of-the-box’ SEO capabilities and all the other great features they offer. For this to happen, you’ll need a host that supports WordPress, which means having the server requirements to install and operate a WordPress based website. In truth, not every host meets WordPress requirements, despite what it might say on their website.
Even if you don’t plan on using WordPress, you can decide to change your mind further down the line. Therefore, it’s worth considering a host that meets the requirements for WordPress and has the relevant expertise and support to manage it.
The rate at which websites are being compromised is increasing at an alarming rate. For instance, bots attacks, malware and DDoT now appear to be the norm. So much so, if you choose a web host without verifying their security capabilities, you’ll be putting your business and customers at risk.
You’ll need to look for a web host that offers a wide range of security features, such as regular site scanning, intrusion detection and prevention, spam blocking and removal, SSL certificates, as well as a remote backup. With all of these features in place, you can be sure your website will enjoy a reasonable level of security against common threats. The easiest way to even know a secure host is by observing the URL. For instance, if you come across a URL like https://www.umbrellar.com/cloud-platforms/umbrellarcloud/virtual-machines/, you can easily tell from the “https” as compared to a site with “http”. The page address also tells you where the page is about - cloud hosting and virtual machines.
Room for growth
As your online business grows, your website will need to grow simultaneously. What may start out as a small site with just a few pages can very well grow into a large e-commerce outfit with hundreds of pages and thousands of unique daily visitors. Because of this, you’ll need a host that allows you room to grow. It can be a huge hassle moving your website from one host to another, just because your first host can no longer handle your growing needs.
When you start out, you might be on a tight budget that requires you to run on a shared hosting platform. As your website grows, however, you can later move up to a VPS or dedicated server; there will almost certainly come a time when you’ve grown so big that you have to move your business to The Cloud. Having a web host that can provide for these different levels of growth will do a lot for the stability of your business, because you can move seamlessly from one to the other, without complications.
The list above covers just some of the features you’ll need to look out for in a web host. However, you should now have a good idea of a few other things to be aware of and how to determine the host that’s right for your needs. As long as you can find the right host, everything else should automatically fall into place. Good luck!
This article was written by our guest poster James Cummings.