10 Things to Think About When Choosing a Hosting Providerby@an2ringan
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10 Things to Think About When Choosing a Hosting Provider

by Ann TuringanJuly 28th, 2022
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With so many web hosting providers in the market, the search for the best one for your business can be overwhelming. To help you narrow your search, we’ve prepared a 10-point checklist.

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Launching a website for your business is a must-have these days. It allows customers to connect with you 24/7, helps you cut costs, and enables you to expand in different markets.

There’s a handful of things to prepare before launching your website. One essential factor is your web host.

Choosing the best web host for your business significantly impacts your website’s security, speed, and more. We’ll get to these factors and much more when we cover ten tips for choosing the right provider for your business.

Let’s Define What Web Hosting Is

It’s important you understand the role web hosting plays when establishing an online presence. Whether you’re building a website for a personal project or business, you’ll need a basic understanding of what powers your site.

Simply put, web hosting allows you to publish a website or web page on the Internet. Basically, all of the websites you’ve landed on online are hosted on a web server.

Your web hosting provider — or web host— is the company that allots space on a server for your website’s files. Think of them as a realtor providing rented space, your web address as the street address, and your web host as the house your website “lives” in.

There are an estimated 330,000 web hosting providers worldwide. And given the thousands of websites published online every day, the global web hosting services market is projected to grow to USD 267.10 million (SGD 370.54 million) in 2028.

There are two sides of the coin for users here. On one side, this means you have dozens of top-rated web hosting companies to choose from. On the other hand, it also puts you at risk of landing with the wrong web host.

10-Point Web Host Checklist for Your Business

  1. Make a list of your website’s requirements

The first thing you'll do is make a list of your website’s needs.

For example, if you’re launching an eCommerce site, you’ll need web hosting features that can cater to your sales volume, estimated traffic, and budget. You’ll also need to see if your web host offers the right plugins for you to start selling.

Most web hosting companies have packages tailored for your specific needs. Taking from the example above, there are web hosts that offer plans specifically for eCommerce. There are also packages optimized for content management systems like WordPress, which we’ll dive into in the next point.

  1. Decide on your content management system

A content management system, or CMS, is a platform that lets users edit, manage, and publish website content.

The most popular and widely-used CMS in the world is WordPress.  At present, WordPress powers 43.3% of websites online. The number comes as no surprise as WordPress has a lot to offer for new and experienced website owners. You have dozens of themes and plugins to choose from, allowing you to build any type of website you want.

Of course, there are other CMS options to choose from like Joomla, Drupal, and Hubspot. So when picking a provider, you’ll want to choose a host that helps you get the most out of your CMS. Look for providers that allow you to work with your CMS as seamlessly as possible. Some features to highlight are one-click installation, security, and support.

  1. See if they guarantee uptime

The internet is all about convenience. So you can’t fault customers for leaving a website that doesn’t load at all. Additionally, search engines like Google don’t prioritize sites that are constantly down. This means your websites won’t rank on search engines, later affecting your site traffic, lead generation opportunities, and sales.

If you’re shopping around for a web host or looking to transfer to a better one, always list uptime as a deciding factor. Uptime measures the amount of time the server keeps your websites up and running. For obvious reasons, you’d want to choose a web host with high uptime.

Whether you've signed up for a shared hosting package or a Virtual Private Server (VPS) — an uptime score of 99.9% is the norm. Any score below that is unacceptable.

  1. Look for web hosts that offer scalable plans

If you’re just starting out, you’re likely to go for a lower-tier plan like shared hosting or regular business hosting. No matter the case, be on the lookout for hosting providers (and hosting packages) that easily allows you to upgrade.

So say for example your website goes from driving 1,000 visitors a month to 10,000 unique visitors, then a lower-tier plan won’t be enough to accommodate all that traffic. And as you might have guessed, this instantly affects your conversions.

If your web hosting company does not have the tools to readily support that growth, take that as a huge red flag. Look for hosts that offer VPS or dedicated servers. Both solutions allow you to seamlessly upgrade your servers with minimum to zero downtime.

  1. Research the price point for sign-ups and renewals

There’s a high chance that what you pay upon renewing will be significantly higher compared to when you signed up.

So before hitting that checkout button, always look for the renewal price under the terms and conditions. Trustworthy web hosts are transparent and upfront about their pricing — and their renewal rates won’t jump above 100%.

  1. Their hosting panel should be simple and easy-to-use

Account manager, control panel, hosting panel — these all refer to the web-based interface provided by your web host. Here, you can manage your servers and hosted services including your website and emails.

Now, not all hosting panels are made equal. You’ll know you’re working with a good web host when they ensure that their hosting panel is intuitive and doesn’t require a steep learning curve. Actions like WordPress installation, email setups, and FTP accounts should be easy to do, even if you happen to be a beginner.

  1. Security, security, security

Security has to be one of the most significant drawbacks of moving your business online. So be sure that the hosting solution you go with is well-equipped against cyberattacks.

Some security features to look out for include:

  • SSL Availability. SSL works by encrypting the data sent from a customer’s browser to your web server. Not only is this essential for websites that ask for user data, but search engines like Google flag sites without SSL.

    You’ll find that most hosts offer SSL as part of their hosting bundles. If not, you can also purchase it separately from the same provider.

  • Hardware security. Web hosting companies store all their cloud computing resources, servers, and components in a data center. These facilities process data for thousands of customers each minute.

    Like any physical infrastructure, data centers are vulnerable to natural threats like floods and fires. To reduce the impact of these threats, web hosting providers should ensure that their data centers are water- and fire-proofed. They also need to be equipped with backup generators in case of outages.

  • Backup and restore. Data corruption might be avoidable, but it still happens to even the most responsible website owner. That said, you’ll need to ensure that your provider has a reliable backup and restore system.

  • Network monitoring. Other than natural disasters, servers are constantly at risk of a cyberattack. Ask how a potential provider monitors security threats and attacks. Is it 24/7? Do they have the resources to mitigate a potential breach? How do customers learn about a cyberattack?

  1. Managed Services

Not everyone has the time and expertise for hosting management, especially when you’d rather focus on managing other areas of your business. So it’s always a good idea to look for providers who offer managed services.

As the name implies, managed hosting is where your hosting company fully takes charge. Depending on the packages, this may include:

  • Hardware and software configuration
  • Admin management, security, and support

  1. Good server responsiveness and speed

Online, speed is definitely of the essence.

So like uptime, consider speed as a major factor when choosing a web host. You can start by testing their company website on speed analysis tools like Google Page Speed Insights. Most, if not all, providers host their websites on their own servers. So if they have a good Time To First Byte (TTFB) score, that might be a green flag.

But don’t stop there. Do further research by reading customer testimonials and testing other sites hosted on that same provider.

  1. Quality support

As much as you want your website to run smoothly, you’re still bound to run into some issues along the way. This is why good support is an essential feature for any hosting provider.

Look at the company’s contact us page or help pages to see what channels they’re extending to customers. Do they have an organized knowledge base? Do they have a sales, customer service, and technical support team ready to provide assistance? What are their available hours? Also, make it a point to look at reviews and see what customers are saying about the business.

How to Choose the Right Web Hosting Plan

Take the time to list your website objectives before settling on a web hosting provider. Once you’ve found a partner that ticks all the boxes above, start exploring your hosting options.

You’ll have different hosting setups to choose from. There are shared hosting, VPS, and dedicated hosting — each having the requirements to support your business. Normally, new businesses go for a shared hosting plan. But as you grow, you might want to explore VPS or dedicated hosting, depending on your bandwidth and other website needs.