Business Hosting for your Website: 8 Factors To Consider

Choosing a company to provide hosting for your business website is an important decision. The right choice can provide you with a hassle-free implementation and ongoing support that assists in answering even your most trivial request. The right decision can also prevent forced downtime to your website from becoming a major or recurring problem. On the other hand, making an incorrect decision can leave you with effectively no web presence for extended periods of time, poor customer support, missing emails, and lost revenue. Making the wrong decision for the sake of saving a few dollars a month could prove fatal to your online success.

1 – Network Uptime Guarantee

Virtually every host and every website suffers from some periods of downtime. It can happen for any one of a large number of reasons and in a lot of cases there is little you, as Webmaster and site owner, can actually do to reverse the situation. However, when choosing a host you can choose one that offers a reasonable network uptime guarantee. A network uptime guarantee as the name would suggest is a guarantee that the entire network of websites will remain online for that length of time.

Network guarantees are measured in percentage and can range from mid 90% with very poor performing hosts to 99.999% with the most secure. The amount of downtime with the latter guarantee is virtually negligible and is certainly the preferred option if you can find it. Do be aware, though, that a network uptime guarantee is just a figure displayed on a website unless you can find some kind of confirmation. There are many web host reviews on the Internet including those on this site. Make the most of them to determine whether the uptime guarantee is worth the website it is printed on.

2 – Planned Or Unplanned Downtime

If you do intend to use a host that offers a comparatively low network uptime guarantee, and remember that while a 99% guarantee sounds impressive it means that every website suffers an average of one hour every four days, find out whether any of this is planned downtime. It is much easier to cope with planned downtime even if it is inconvenient.

This is a question that can, once again, be answered by consulting online reviews but you may also consider emailing or phoning the support desk to find out. What it does mean if the majority of the downtime is planned, is that for the remainder of the time you are unlikely to suffer the effects of unplanned downtime.

Your website being down is a huge revenue loss if you depend on your website to make money in any way. Even if you use it as a source of information for your customers they will not believe your company to be a professional one if your site is down when they visit.

3 – Account Limits

Every hosting account has its limits, in terms of bandwidth and disk space that you are able to use. This is even true of unlimited accounts that claim to offer unlimited traffic and unlimited website size. The fact is that both are exhaustible commodities and, as such, they can be offered as freely as this. In most cases it will just be a case of looking at the features page of a website to determine how much space and traffic you are entitled to.

Always ensure that this figure is comfortably higher than the amount you, or your web designer, believes you will need. You should attempt to future-proof your site at least to some extent. By future proofing we mean that every site will inevitably grow to some extent so choosing a package that barely covers your current needs you are putting yourself at risk of having to either pay a premium for extra space and traffic or moving host supplier.

Remember to check other limits such as email accounts, the mailbox size, number of FTP accounts, and anything that may be relevant to the running of your website. Also, if you are looking at an account that offers any unlimited features check the terms and conditions page. Usually you will find the limit to unlimited bandwidth in there.

4 - Account Features

Again, look at the account features page to find out what exactly is offered with your account. Determine whether a specific account plan offers everything you need. If necessary determine whether you can pay for add-ons or whether the next account up might be more appropriate for your requirements. Again, it is likely that you will need help from your web designer, unless you are doing it yourself.

Features can vary massively from one account to the next, never mind from one host to the next. This means you should pay very careful attention to what exactly is included and precisely what you need. If you require FTP access then ensure that you receive it. If you need FrontPage extension support then ensure that you receive it.

5 – Compatibility

Compatibility is important in everything related to computers. If you have any particular scripts or applications that you want to install on your website then make sure that the account you eventually decide on offers program support to cover it. If you want to include streaming Windows media then you may need to look at Windows hosting plans. If you want to use MySQL then ensure that the accounts you are considering offer MySQL databases.

While the majority of servers use Linux or Unix operating systems, there are Windows packages available. If you need to use a Windows plan then you should be aware that you are likely to receive much less disk space and bandwidth for your subscription.

6 – Support

Support is vital. It is almost inevitable that your website will suffer from periods of unplanned downtime. In this case the most important information is how long the site will be down for and what can be done to fix it. Downtime caused by your network is only one potential pitfall with a website especially if you are inexperienced in all matters related to hosting a site.

Support from hosts can vary in a number of ways. Telephone support is often the most vital when you have an emergency call you need answering. Email support is handy and often it is answered relatively quickly but nothing says “I need help now” like a phone call. Many hosts though have turned down the route of using support ticket help desks. These can provide useful in non-emergencies but again if you have a mission critical website and are suffering from a loss of service then telephone support is the most important aspect.

7 – Network Security

Some networks are more stable than others. This is also true when it comes to host networks. While it is generally very difficult to determine from a website and even from phone calls whether a network genuinely offers the level of security you need it is possible to take a few precautions.

Some scripts can cause a serious breach in server security. Check that allowed scripts are ones that you feel comfortable having run on the server where your site is hosted. It only takes one website on a server to be compromised and every other site on the same server could potentially fall foul of the same fate.

8 – Future Proof Account Structure

When choosing a hosting account you should try to ensure that the limits of that account are beyond your current means. That said paying for a lot more than you need is cost inefficient. When you decide on a hosting account you should, as far as possible, attempt to ensure that there is some room for movement should you reach the confines of your chosen account. Find out how easy it is to upgrade to the next account level should the need arise. Alternatively find out if you are penalized for exceeding your current limits and whether you can purchase extra features or extra limits for a reasonable price.

Conclusion

Running a website gives you another potential avenue for revenue. It can operate as a source of information for your existing clients or it can be used to generate new leads and even make sales. In a lot of cases your website will act as the first face of your business so should be a reflection of how you want potential customers to view your business.

Ensuring reliability, ease, speed, and the features you require makes your site and therefore your business appear professional. This is the kind of image you want to portray. If your site is directly responsible for product or service sales then a slow loading website or one that suffers from downtime will directly lose you large portions of revenue. Avoiding these potential negative aspects of running a business online can be avoided by choosing your hosting account and your hosting provider carefully.