The car park has to be convenient, well run, safe, and with plenty of space, to name a few necessary qualities. With the abundant choices available to today’s web consumer, combined with a growing volume of security threats, choosing the right host is possibly one of the most important business decisions a digital start-up has to make.
Needless to say, making the wrong decision can involve a lot of hassle down the line, as well as disgruntled customers who’ll lose faith in a brand they can’t access on demand. Here’s some key factors to take into consideration before making your choice.
As with storing your snazzy car in a downtown car park, you need enough space. With web hosting, however, it’s a little more complex. Websites are continually growing and shifting in shape, despite the best intentions of the founder. As a rough guideline you might consider 250 MB to 1000 MB of space for the average business website. (OLI offers 1000 MB in the Value Pack Web Hosting).
Some of the cheapest web hosts prohibit users from using FTP access, so that you are forced to use their branded site builders. Generally speaking this type of host is at the lower end of the scale and to be avoided, despite the allure of setting up a template style website in a few easy clicks. Even if your needs are humble, our advice is to allow the possibility for future growth by going with a web host who offers FTP as standard. No serious developer should be without it.
As with your central metropolitan car park, space costs money. But with the many discount hosts springing up (who make their money primarily on advertising), there can be limitations preventing you from uploading certain sized files, an incredibly annoying issue if you’re trying to add high-res images to your homepage, for example. Go with a reputable web host to avoid this type of annoyance. A good host allows you to upload large images without restraint.
Given the amount of variables on the internet, very few – if any – hosts can offer 100% uptime. That said, if you’re running a commercial venture, you obviously need to keep this to the minimum. Google is also looks at a site’s reliability and evidence suggests that websites which regularly drop offline appear lower in the rankings. There’s a third reason, too: your customers themselves with get increasingly frustrated with your brand if they find it’s impossible to access.
This one is perhaps the most important. We’ve all experienced businesses with negligible support which takes days for a response. Choosing a host who answers support questions promptly and has a team overseeing the servers 24/7 is crucial for success.
For many sites, shared hosting is no problem at all. Think of this as a public car park, in which your vehicle sits alongside a load of strangers cars, which isn’t generally a problem. However in certain cases, these spaces get too full. In order to maximize profit, some of the less desirable hosts will cram too many websites into the same space, which puts an overall strain on resources. Our advice is to start off with shared hosting, but find a host which offers dedicated hosting should you need it further down the line. Similarly, quiz them about the amount of sites they cluster together on shared hosting, and ensure they’re monitoring activity to ensure nobody is hogging more resources than their fair share. (Also a warning about hosts offering “unlimited” space, this is a flag that the servers may get too full at some point).
SSL stands for ‘secure sockets layer’and is basically a secure hosting connection which is de rigeur for ecommerce sites. If you’re planning on selling goods and services via your website, ensure your host offers SSL functionality, which will mean your web address begins with a “https://” instead of “http://”.
Choosing a host with at least several years of industry experience is also a wise decision. Many hosting companies come and go in a matter of years or even months, and the worst thing that could happen is to sign up with a host and then find out they’re going out of business.
Choosing a host based in a stable country that speaks your language is a good move. Hosting your site in a datacenter that is located where the government is stable and electricity is bountiful helps ensure your services stay up and running.
cPanel is the web’s most popular hosting account control panel for managing websites. Believe it not, though, some hosts choose to do without the cPanel. This can make basic maintenance and security tasks very difficult so our advice is to ensure that you choose a hosting provider includes full cPanel access.
Leia Solanki is a tech support operative with London based IT firm Tegen. Tegen provide IT management, support, outsourced IT services and Cloud solutions to all business sectors