When it comes to running a successful website, either for professional or personal reasons, you’ll quickly discover that your host will dictate just how good your results can be. While you can boost the performance of your online presence with careful strategies and marketing campaigns, your website can only perform well if you’ve got the right host in place to keep it in optimum condition.

Unfortunately, if you’re new to the concept of hosting a website, you might find that the sheer number of options available is enough to leave you distressed and confused. With that in mind, we’ve put together a list of the essential things everyone should look for when choosing a new host.

1. Uptime Scores and Server Reliability

There are few things more important in the online world than having a host that can offer reliability and support on a 24/7 basis. You’ll need a host that has a powerful server, stable network connections, and incredible performance at all times. Remember, anything below a 99% uptime score is unacceptable – particularly if you run a business.

There are plenty of ways that you can find out more about your potential host’s runtime information. For instance, read the hosting reviews available online, or track your web host using server monitor tools for free!

2. Options for Server Upgrading

If you’re just getting started with your website, then the chances are you won’t need a lot of power in your hosting service, to begin with. However, as your business grows, and more people begin to visit your website, you’ll need to make sure that your host has options available that allow you to upgrade your bandwidth according to what you need.

Your hosting provider should provide plenty of packages to choose from that will take you all the way from shared hosting to dedicated or virtual private servers.

3. Addon Domains

Usually, buying a domain name is a pretty cheap process. That’s why it can be hard for growing companies to resist purchasing more than one name. According to some surveys, about 80% of the companies online today own more than 5 domains.

To accommodate all the extra domains you might want, you’re going to need additional hosting space. That’s why it’s important to choose a web hosting account that allows for as many domains as you like. Most budget hosting companies will allow for at least 25 addon domains for those on shared hosting packages.

4. An Easy-to-Use Control Panel

If you want complete control over your website, then an easy-to-use control panel for hosting is crucial. It doesn’t matter whether you have a Plesk, cPanel, or third-party option, all you need to do is make sure that it’s simple to use, and comes with all the necessary functions you need.

Remember, without a good control panel, your business will be left at the mercy of your hosting tech staff for support – even if all you need to do is make some basic changes to your server or your email.

5. Email Accounts

If you’re planning on creating professional email addresses alongside your business website, then you should make sure you check the email feature before signing up. Most hosting companies will offer you the ability to host your own email, but it’s best to check the features available before you commit.

If email isn’t offered, then you can still create an email account on your own domain using something like “Google Email Apps” for instance.

6. Site Backup

No matter how reliable your host may be, it’s important to remember that all sites crash from time to time. This could happen because the server has a hard disk failure, or because a hacker somehow makes his way to your website and replaces your Index.php file.

Either way, the last thing you want is to lose all of your hard work and data, so it’s important to choose a service provider who can give you regular backups to secure and protect your information. Ask your host whether they provide full backups regularly and whether you can access your own backups from the control panel.

7. On-Going Support

All hosting providers should offer continuous and reliable support to their customers. Sometimes, this will mean that they’re constantly available over the phone, and other times, it will mean that you have access to live chat and email options if you’d prefer not to speak to someone on the phone.

Check to make sure that the host you choose has the support options available that you’re most comfortable with before you hand over your cash.

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