Your company website is arguably the most important means of introducing your business to potential customers and establishing your brand, which is why selecting the right web hosting company is all-important. There are many factors to consider, of course, but for a start-up where so much is in the balance right from the off, it’s even more vital to get it right. If you’re new to the concept, here’s what you need to know in order to make the best decision…
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Many would consider an adequate trial period an absolute necessity, just to know that the hosting company is up to the task. Choosing business web hosting from UK2, for example, guarantees a 30-day cooling-off period. Don’t be afraid to cancel your contract with a supplier if you have any concerns about its abilities to host your site properly.
Type of Hosting
Which hosting package is right for your business?
- Shared Server – where hundreds, if not thousands of sites are hosted on the same server, sharing resources such as RAM. The cost is low, but it doesn’t suit sites with high volumes of traffic.
- Dedicated Server – where your website is the only one on the server. It costs more, obviously, but gives you greater flexibility, control and security.
- Virtual Private Hosting – where one server is divided into separate virtual spaces, so a lot more control is available, but with less commitment than on a dedicated server. Performance can still be affected by the activities of other sites on the same server though, and you may struggle with high traffic volumes.
- Cloud Hosting – where you have unlimited scope for steep levels of traffic. Great if you are a successful ecommerce store, or are concerned about the threat of DDoS attacks.
Your annual monthly hosting bill will be of keen interest naturally, but beware of going straight for the cheapest option. Check that it offers everything you need, that its claims stand up, and that there are no unexpected hidden charges down the line. Golden rule – if it looks too good to be true then it probably is.
Absolutely crucial is the amount of uptime your site will enjoy. Does the hosting company guarantee zero or extremely limited downtime? How realistic is that?
Also key is what kind of technical support the web hosting company will offer your business in the event of something going wrong. Is there a facility for live chat with an engineer in real-time? Is there phone support 24/7 and 365 days of the year? What about social media if that is all you have access to? Some web hosting companies will offer online tutorials or FAQ videos that can make resolving issues that much easier and faster for you.
A big concern right now is how secure websites are. New disasters crop up almost weekly in the papers featuring major companies that should have been secure but weren’t. How often are backups of your website performed? If you’re uploading content on a regular basis then a weekly backup just isn’t going to cut it. Are admin passwords protected? Does the company offer dedicated SSL certificates?
What bandwidth speed and disk space does the company provide? You must have a clear idea of how fast your site is going to be loading in the UK or abroad, because just a few seconds of being left hanging can cause visitors to shift to a competitor.
These are probably the questions that you need to give the most weight to, but your company may have specific requirements. Other things to keep in mind:
- Will you be provided with unlimited catchall email addresses?
- Is your domain name free of charge? What about the cost of file transfers?
- How scalable is the package if your business expands or contracts?
- Where are the servers physically located?
- Can you host multiple sites for no extra cost, allowing you to make some relatively easy side revenue?
- Can the company host mobile sites?
- Does it offer extra benefits such as ecommerce, emarketing, site builder or CMS software?
Finding a suitable web host isn’t too difficult, there are many excellent providers around. But it definitely isn’t a decision to be reached lightly. As with so many aspects of running a start-up, it pays to think a long way ahead.