Choosing a web host for your business’ website is like getting engaged. If you choose incorrectly, the decision is reversible, but not without a fair amount of embarrassment in the process.
You want the web host equivalent of a spouse that is both responsible and adventurous. You want a host that anticipates your needs before you even express them.
This isn’t an impossible dream. There are numerous web hosting services out there just waiting for you to discover them. But it takes a discerning eye to choose the right one for you.
We’ve assembled this guide on how to choose a web host to help you determine the criteria that matter most to you in a hosting provider. Read on to learn the many ways you can evaluate these service providers.
You can’t find what you want until you know what you need. This means identifying the features of a website that will best serve your business.
Video is a hot commodity these days. Are you looking for a domain host that can support lots of high-resolution video content, including some live streaming? Or do you need a simple site that is mostly text?
Think about how you want your site to grow. What will your needs be in a year, three years, or five years?
These needs will determine the size and structure of the host you search for.
Anyone exploring the online space knows that reviews can be quite unreliable. But they are still a good place to start when it comes to getting the lay of the land.
Learn the online reputations of the companies you’re researching. See what customers are saying about them. Evaluate their reviews for yourself to see if they’re substantial.
We’ll talk about customer service later, but you can also check for the company’s response to complaints. This can give you an idea of how seriously a company takes its commitment to customer satisfaction.
Once you know the features that matter most to you, you can begin to explore your options. Here are a few of the terms that are helpful to know.
This a great starter option if you are on your first website. Shared hosting gives companies the options of sharing a server that hosts multiple sites at once. This saves quite a bit on cost.
Once you’ve outgrown a shared hosting service, or if you need quite a bit more capability from your domain, a VPS service is a great fit. VPS hosting is scalable customizable to accommodate the individual needs of your business.
PHP is a programming language, and you want to make sure your service provider supports it. Ideally, you want a web host that can support multiple versions of PHP.
There is a multitude of web applications. Facebook, Evernote, Netflix, and Google Docs are just some of them. Depending on the type of business you own, you may need a website that supports quite a few web apps.
Our BasicHost service is compatible with 99% of web applications.
Here’s another acronym we can add to your shopping list: SSL. It stands for Secure Sockets Layer, and it’s a safeguard for not only your private information but your customers’ privation information as well.
If you’re doing business from your website, a server that provides SSL is essential to giving your customers peace of mind.
Along the lines of security, you should also make sure your web host offers backup services. Accidental deletions happen to even the best of us. But when a hosting service has an automatic backup, it can remedy human errors on your end.
There’s no way around it. Hosting a website costs money.
How much money you spend is up to you. You can get individual plans for under $5 a month, but if you’re buying a website for your business, the odds are you need something a little more expensive.
One rule of thumb is to be frugal but not gullible. If a domain hosting service offers the world for a pittance, it’s unlikely it can deliver. But you also don’t need to break the bank to find a reliable hosting service that fits your needs and your budget.
Here are some of the buzzwords to watch for when comparing prices for web hosting services.
There are deals to be found all over the web to encourage you to sign up for web hosting services. Exploit these deals as best you can! But do keep in mind that these prices may not last the length of your relationship with a web host.
These are the prices you want to research the most, as they often vary wildly from the cost of signup. Some domain hosts up their prices 300% when you renew your contract with them.
These price hikes can look small on the surface. A jump to $6.99 per month from $1.99 per month is only five more dollars a month. But relative to the price you’re paying, that’s significant.
Look at the fine print of any contract you sign, or even just check a box next to, so you know what you’re getting into even years before you have to renew.
This is an investigation you can conduct alongside the company’s free trial policies.
Are there costs for cancellation with the free trial? Are there cancellation costs once you’re in a paid contract? Which parts of the contract are binding?
How does the company respond to refund requests? Some companies give prorated refunds for the remainder of a contract when you cancel your service. This is a sign of a company that operates in good faith.
If you’re new to the web hosting game, you’ll want to pay extremely close attention to your upgrade options.
Most beginners choose shared hosting for their first website. But if their business grows according to plan, the time comes to choose a VPS or a dedicated server for their site alone.
This isn’t always a simple switch. You need to know ahead of time that the company you choose to host your site offers the larger, expanded server options, should you need them.
VPS and dedicated servers both offer increased security, more memory, and greater processing power. If you think you’ll need those things in time, it’s worth investigating the differences between various companies’ higher capacity options ahead of time.
As we referred to earlier, you’ll need additional support from your web host if you want to provide your customers with e-commerce.
For starters, do the web applications your host supports include the applications you want to offer your customers for payment, such as PayPal or Square?
Do you have unique requirements for your customers’ shopping cart? Your host may provide shopping cart software, but it might not be sufficient for your purposes. There are plenty of shopping cart software options, but you’ll want to check your web host supports the one you prefer.
Security is especially important when it comes to e-commerce, so we’ll reiterate the need for SSL certification if you choose to go the online shopping route.
Some of the other features you may want in an e-commerce platform include dedicated technical support, one-click installation for your shopping cart software, and a dedicated IP address.
How does environmental friendliness apply to website hosts? Aren’t we talking about a virtual space? What harm could that cause the environment?
You’re not totally wrong to wonder about the relevance of environmental friendliness to web hosting, but there are unseen effects hosts can have on the environment that may factor into your choice of provider.
In a study of more than 3,500 dedicated servers, scientists found that the average server uses 1000 kWh of energy unnecessarily every year. That translates to an excess of 623kg of carbon dioxide per server, per year. That’s a lot of pollution coming from the hardware used to support your virtual space.
This may sound like punishment, but it’s not. Reading the terms of service of your agreement with your web host is the best way to prevent yourself from being taken advantage of.
Whatever the priorities you determine in the course of your research, you’ll find the answers to almost all of your questions within a company’s Terms of Service, or ToS, document. It may take a while to find exactly what you’re looking for, but you can safeguard against unwanted fees and other surprises by knowing this document well.
It’s not a glamorous job, but reading the ToS document will make the life of your website much smoother in the long run.
There are a lot of factors that go into deciding on the right web host for your business’ website. The nature of your business and the online features you want to offer customers are just a couple of those factors.
But once you decide on your needs, it is possible to find what you want from a hosting provider. You just have to know what you’re looking for.
We hope this guide has helped you learn more about how to choose a web host that will suit your business. Take a look at our IE registration guide for even more help setting up your business’ website.