You need a web hosting company to provide you with services that connect your site to the internet, allowing you to connect with your customers online – but there are tons of hosts out there, and it can be tough to narrow down the options to find one that is perfect for your company!
Your website is only as good as your web host, and any issues with your hosting company will translate to problems with your website and unhappy customers. Bearing this in mind, your first decision relates to what type of hosting you’ll choose. There are many hosting plans out there, but these are the most common types of hosting plans.
Individual plans are affordable, providing hosting support for a single domain only. You may find that this plan is limited in terms of features, bandwidth, and data storage, but if you are just starting out as a webmaster and don’t need a lot of traffic support or bells and whistles, this is an economical, user-friendly way to get started. Often times you will be sharing space on your hosting server with other webmasters, so you may hear this called a shared hosting plan.
Dedicated servers provide you with your own server, for a higher price. This opens up new doors to you, allowing you to try new features and support more traffic. If you think you may eventually need a dedicated server but want to start with a shared hosting plan, be sure your web host offers both types of plans so you can upgrade in the future without a big hassle.
In between these types of plans are reseller accounts. Reseller hosts allow their clients to set up multiple individual plans on one account. It’s relatively inexpensive, and lets you run several smaller websites without needing multiple accounts or plans to do so.
Now that you know what types of plans are out there, and have made your decision, you have to decide on the web host itself. Obviously, you’ll need a web host that provides the type of plan you want, so be sure to read through all of your options and consider your future needs.
You will also need to consider cost. It’s important to stay within your budget, but try to not be tempted by free hosting programs. These hosts are often unreliable and may require you to advertise on your website, for the web host or other advertisers – this is how the hosting plan is free or low-cost. Everything on your website should relate to your business, so this is never a good idea for a company site. You can talk to your preferred web host about the costs of their plans and see if there are any discounts or cost savings available, if you think hosting might cost too much.
You can also check out customer reviews to help you evaluate web hosts. Are people generally happy with this host, or do they frequently run into problems? Reading real-life reviews is a good way to know how a business actually operates, instead of relying on what the web host tells you. Check multiple review sites and read a variety of reviews to get a good idea of what people think of your prospective host.
Speaking of customer reviews – how will the host support you, if you become a client? If you need lots of assistance as a new webmaster, be sure that the host can provide that to you. You need a dependable, reliable, helpful web host to help you through any issues that come up, whether this is all-new to you, or you have experience. Make sure your web host responds to issues and questions quickly, as time is often money in the online world, especially when it comes to keeping your own customers happy. A good web host is available to you 24/7 in a variety of ways, from phone support to online chats, email access, and helpdesk tickets. Find out what customer support your host offers before committing to anything.
Security is important, too. If you are handling customer transactions or sensitive data, it is vital to know that this information is protected – you can reassure your clients that all is well, if you are able to trust your web host. Make sure that the appropriate privacy and security measures are taken to keep all of your information, and your clients’ information, as safe as possible.
Consider storage and bandwidth allowances. Your website may take up more space than you think! Many hosts are moving toward unlimited disk space and bandwidth, but don’t assume that this is always the case. Ensure that your storage and bandwidth allowances are more than adequate for your business as-is, and any projected growth in the future. It can be annoying and expensive to try to tack on additional space after the fact, so do your best to ensure you start out with everything you need.
Finally, be sure to inquire about script support when choosing your web host. The hosting company’s built-in support for popular web scripts should factor into your choice, if you use them. If you would like to run WordPress on your website, look for a host that offers easy installation, and be aware of any MySQL database limitations. Your potential web host should have a list of scripts that it supports, and those that are available to install easily, so make a note of what scripts you need and double-check that the support is available.