As a small business owner, you already understand that your business needs a great website. You may understand SEO and the principles of great content and finely-tuned usability.
However, website hosting is also crucial. Hosting underpins your website; it makes the process of maintaining your website easier and ensures it’s always available when customers visit. Choosing the wrong host can be an expensive mistake.
With so many plans on offer, how do you make the crucial decision and pick the best web hosting package?
The Importance of the Right Plan
On a very basic level, there are three types of hosting: site builder hosting, shared hosting and VPS/ dedicated hosting. As the price increases, so do the resources (and, in some cases, the quality of support).
It’s essential to choose a website hosting package. You need a service that supports your business without adding unnecessary admin to your daily workload.
Types of Hosting
Site builder tools are fine for many small businesses, particularly when they’re just starting up, but they’re inherently limited. Site builders are browser-based tools that offer templated designs and pre-set widgets.
An upgrade to shared hosting will be needed if you’ve engaged a website designer (or plan to in the future). Shared hosting is also more suitable if you wish to use a popular script like WordPress.
The type of hosting you choose will also affect the price. Costs vary greatly, from a few dollars a month right through to dedicated server packages costing hundreds (or thousands) of dollars a year. Also, you’ll notice that many web hosts offer discounts for hosting plans taken out over a longer term. This is effectively a contract lock-in, and if you don’t know how well the host performs, this lock-in could be a false economy.
- Before parting with your money, it’s wise to closely examine the terms of the host’s money-back guarantee; if you want to move your website midterm for any reason, a money-back guarantee will ensure you don’t wind up paying for web hosting twice.
- If you’re not sure about the resources you need, ensure your web host offers free upgrades. You’re then free to start with the most affordable package. Even if you outgrow the resources on your plan, you’ll be able to scale up effortlessly – and with zero downtime in most cases. This is usually better than over-committing to hosting that will drain your bank account unnecessarily.
The Importance of Availability
It’s important that a business website is available around the clock – or as near to that as possible. That’s why web hosts almost always provide some kind of uptime guarantee.
These guarantees are designed to protect website owners against faults at the data centre which can cause their website to become available.
Checking the Uptime Guarantee
- Hosts that offer 100 per cent uptime are rare, and generally more expensive, but they do exist. However, it’s far more common to see 99 per cent uptime guarantees. (Remember: 99 per cent uptime actually allows for up to 3 days’ downtime per year.) Look for the best uptime guarantee you can afford.
- Check the terms carefully. Many hosts offer account credits for prolonged downtime, but how easy is to claim? Would the credit compensate your business adequately – and is there a catch?
The Importance of the Right Hosting Provider
There are thousands of web hosting providers battling for custom from small business owners, and that can make the buying decision complex and tedious. Impartial hosting company ratings and host user reviews offer a shortcut, making it far easier to select the right plan.
Before signing up for any web host, check web host reviews from users carefully. Examine the specifications for your chosen plan, then compare host ratings and check the small print for each one.
Finally, don’t forget to look for webhost user reviews that are relatively recent. Web hosting providers occasionally change hands, and that can affect the quality of service customers experience. A stale webhost user review is unlikely to be as accurate as a current, up-to-date user review.