Hosting is never the first thing you think about when creating a website. But even the best looking website in the world will be useless if it’s slow or inaccessible.
Imagine what can happen if you don’t choose the best hosting provider for your needs:
So instead of choosing a hosting provider because they are the cheapest or have the funniest Super Bowl commercials, make the right choice for your website by focusing on the following items:
- Type of Hosting Plan
Just as you wouldn't drive a Smart Car in the Indy500, the opposite is true as well. You don’t need a racecar to pick up the kids from school. A good hosting company should offer a variety of plans based on your needs. Anticipate what is coming in the next 12 months and take into account the specificities of your site.
It’s important to ensure that the hosting provider allows for account transitions so you can easily and seamlessly upgrade your plan as your website grows in traffic and features. I would also advise against signing up for plans that are longer than 2 or 3 years unless they offer the option to cancel anytime. You might need to upgrade your provider as your site grows in size and traffic.
- Customer Service and Support:
Here is a fact of life on the web: things will go wrong at some point and when they do, you will bless the day you chose a hosting provider with great customer service. I can tell you through my own experience that I have wasted countless hours on the phone with customer support of hosting providers “who-shall-not-be-named” and nothing is more frustrating, especially when your site is down and you’re trying to get it back online. Make sure they offer 24/7 phone support, email access, and online chat. If possible, try them out to see how you feel about their level of support. Also read customer reviews before you commit to a plan and ask your peers which support staffs they found to be friendly and helpful.
When you launch your website, you don’t necessarily think of storage as paramount. You think you have plenty of space left to grow. But, just like photos, videos, images, and apps always fill up your smartphone quicker than you think, and so does the website content on your server. Between the plugins and the media, you’ll run out of space and will have to upgrade your service if you don’t account for storage early on. Think ahead and choose a plan that leaves you room to grow your site and operate effectively.
- Downtime Statistics
For obvious reasons, you want your website to operate 24/7/365. Research uptime and downtime statistics for the providers you’re considering. Anything below 99% uptime is not acceptable. Over 99.5% is recommended. You want your website to operate on a powerful server with stable network connections.
Sometimes a site crashes, for different reasons. Whether this is hardware or software-related or something else entirely, you want to make sure that you choose a plan that offers regular full backups of the database, so you don’t have to worry as much when this happens. Your hosting provider should be able to restore a backed up version of your website in no time. Even better, choose a provider that offers the option to restore it yourself (this can be useful if we go back to #2 and you can’t get ahold of customer support).
Price should not be your first or only consideration. Reliability has a price tag. For the reasons mentioned previously, If you have an e-commerce site, you can’t afford any downtime. Paying a fair price for hosting services is usually a guarantee of the quality of the provider (US-based customer service, fast service, regular backup, etc). Saving a few dollars is not worth the hassle of dealing with a sub-par provider.
Other cost considerations are the cancellation fees and refund policy, as well as the difference between the signup price and the renewal price.
There’s a fair chance that you own multiple domain names. They’re cheap and they can be of great use to help users find your site through redirections and international versions. Make sure your hosting plan allows you to hold multiple domain names under the same account, as they require extra hosting space.
- Truth be told, I have spent a lot of time thinking about hosting companies the past few weeks. I have had a crisis or two with a “mainstream” hosting and have wondered how can I use that experience to help make sure this doesn’t happen again?
I think the key element is customer support. There are some hosting companies who can fix my problem within an hour, and others who tell me they can do it in 7-10 days for free or a lot faster but for $150, knowing that the mistake originates from them. And don’t even mention the 5 different answers you get from the 5 different persons you talk to.
So make sure you do your research. You don’t want to be stuck wasting hours of your time trying to fix the website that is your business’ life and blood. Do you due diligence when choosing your hosting provider and you can spend more time doing what you do best – grow your business.