By Matt Quirk on November 4, 2016
Website hosting can be a scary term for many people. We know from experience how scary. There are so many factors that you need to be aware of, understand and prepare for… its overwhelming. Thankfully there are a few tips we’ll share with you so that you can drop your fear of website hosting, make sure you’re hosting your website with the best host for your website’s needs, and you’re not stressing out about the servers crashing and losing revenue because of it.
Why is website hosting so important?
Besides being the literal home of your website, files, database, and everything else you’ve got under the hood of your company’s presence online? Well, there aren’t really other reasons because those are more than compelling! However, we need to break each one of these things down and explain why each is so crucial to the success of your website.
Think of your website hosting as the building that houses your company online. Your domain name is your address, but without a place to store your website the best domain in the world won’t be able to help your customers. It would be like sending people your address but it points them to an empty lot. That helps no one and frustrates your friends as you just wasted their time and told them you don’t respect them. Not a great message for your customers.
So how do you ensure your visitors make it to their intended destination and enjoy the experience? You start with your hosting platform. There are a few things we recommend for everyone to keep in mind while choosing their hosting provider.
What are you offering to your customers?
What is it you are offering your customers and website visitors? If you’re offering information in form of text like case studies, white papers, and blogs you will likely only need a simple hosting plan. Simple however does not mean any hosting company will do, so to ensure you’re providing the best experience for your customers and also getting the best support, you need to understand what is being provided before you sign up.
Maybe you offer information and sell products. Whether those products are digital or physical goods doesn’t matter all that much, unless you’re delivering those digital goods from your own hosting and servers. The more important item for anyone selling things online is, are you providing a safe and secure environment for your customers to buy your products and services? The only answer should be, “Yes.”
If you’re building a web service where your customers will login and be provided tools to make their lives easier and better, you will likely need a hosting plan that is more robust than someone offering only information. Increased bandwidth allotment, very reliable servers that are redundant in case one crashes or needs repair there are backups of your service that can be immediately switched on, and more are all items that a web services provider needs to be aware of when selecting a hosting company.
So what are the basics of website hosting?
Some of the basics that you should be aware of and want in your hosting provider are reliability, performance, and support. We’ll break each one down to get a better look at them.
Server Reliability and Uptime Scores
The most important thing a hosting company can do for you is keep your site accessible and while 98% of the time sounds good, that means that 2% of the time customers can’t access your website or anything connected to it. Ideally you want a hosting company that has a 99.5% and higher uptime score.
The uptime score refers to how long the servers remain active and “up”. Keeping the server working correctly and ensuring your website is active will be the first step in allowing your customers to interact with your brand.
Web hosting can range from 10 GB of storage to 10 TB of storage, shared server hosting plans to dedicated server hosting plans, and can provide various selections for how much bandwidth or traffic you are allotted. What do all these things mean? Well, let’s break them down and explain each one.
We’ll start with storage, how much space you have to store images, audio files, and other files on your hosting plan is highly important for blogging to ecommerce to software as a service providers like Dropbox, Google Drive, Twitter, or Instagram. Most hosting companies start out by offering “Unlimited” storage. We have the term in quotes because it’s not actually unlimited. What they mean is that they don’t actively cap your storage, however there is an allowance, especially on a shared hosting plan. Ideally you’d prefer to have more storage space than you could possibly need, but there isn’t a need to go crazy. Unless you’re storing a ton of images, audio files or videos you don’t necessarily need more than 10GB – 100GB of storage.
We just alluded to our next point of interest, types of hosting plans. There are 3 main types of hosting plan options. They are shared server hosting, virtual private server hosting, and dedicated server hosting. Shared hosting is when you share a server with many other people/businesses. Virtual Private Server, or VPS, is similar to a shared hosting plan, but instead of just having random space on a server, you are provisioned an instance of server within a server. This is a bit more secure and reliable than a shared hosting plan. Lastly is the dedicated server option. With this option you actually have your own server. It’s much more expensive, but you’re then guaranteed to have an entire environment to yourself.
On the off-chance that something does happen, like the latest DNS hack that took down a good majority of websites and services like Twitter and other large sites, you want to rest assured that your hosting provider will be working to correct the problem very quickly. The level of support the hosting company offers should be very high on your list.
While most hosting companies offer pretty great support, there are a few that really go above and beyond. In our opinion, the most crucial point to be aware of with support is 24/7 customer support. As long as you can access the support team whenever you need to, and they can take action immediate, you should be good to go.
Where do I find the best hosting company for my business?
We’ve provided an amazing baseline of information for you. You’re more than equipped to find the right hosting company for your business now. So to recap our most important elements of hosting, you need to keep the following in mind:
- Server Reliability and Uptime Score
- Tools and Options
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