If you are new to the domain names and web hosting scene, it will be helpful to understand the relationship between both internet features.
Think of your domain name as a house address which people use to locate and visit you. On the web, your domain name is what comes after the http:// character. For example, the domain name for http://www.myfastcars.com/ is “www.myfastcars.com”.
Anybody typing this address into the address bar on their browser will immediately be directed to your website.
To understand what a web hosting company does, picture your website as an apartment. The web hosting company provides ‘rent space’ for your website (apartment). They also offer resources like power, internet uplink, security, software updates, RAM (memory), tech support and so on, to keep your website up and running 24-7 all year.
This is a huge responsibility, and in many cases, the performance of a website fully depends on the efficiency of a web hosting company. As a business, you want your customers to be able to reach your website whenever they want to. You also want to ensure your website loads as fast as it should.
Therefore, it is important to consider a number of factors when choosing a suitable web hosting company.
- What are your web hosting needs?
Not all websites have the same size and function, and as such, there isn’t a one-for-all service to accommodate hosting needs. After all, if you run a gym membership website, your hosting needs will not be as sophisticated as an ecommerce site like Alibaba.com.
First-time owners should outline the goals of their website and think thoroughly through its needs before choosing a plan. Ask yourself the following:
- What type of website are you developing?
- Is it going to be a typical website like WordPress?
- Will you require Windows applications?
- Does your website need a special software program to run?
- What traffic volume are you expecting?
- Do you have plans to grow (accommodate more traffic in future?)
Knowing the plans for your website will help you identify what to look for in a web hosting company. While some hosts specialise in small websites, others are equipped to handle heavy-capacity websites. A web hosting company that can grow with your web needs is usually the recommended option.
- Uptime scores/ Sever reliability
We all know how annoying it is to type in a web address and be faced with a blank screen. You’ll surely lose customers if this is a regular feature with your website. Internet downtime is a common problem associated with ill-equipped hosting companies. You want to ensure you pick a host with a strong reputation for uptime and efficiency.
If your host constantly has server outages, it’s a sign of an overcrowded network, and an inability to manage traffic surge. Look for a host with a guaranteed uptime score of 99.99% or more as enjoyed by sites hosted at Freeparking. Also, make sure the hosting company has multiple backup locations to in case there is a downtime, then the other one can come up online immediately.
- Backup services
Another quality of a good web hosting service is adequate backup. Accidents can occur anytime and you want to be sure your information and website data are well backed up. There’s a popular saying that website will always lose data at some point, so it is wise to be prepared. And a web hosting company with reliable back up plan is an ideal partner.
Besides tech failures, the human element is a key responsible factor for data loss. It is therefore necessary to keep informed about ways to prevent backup failure. This post provides some useful tips for preventing backup failure. Ask your prospective host about their disaster recovery plan. This is to ensure they have robust systems in place, in event of data loss.
- Available technical support
This is a major aspect of a hosting provider’s service. Depending on the function of your website, you may or may not need 24-7 tech support. If it’s the former, ensure your potential hosting company has such service available. Do you operate a sales website with customers all over the globe? It won’t do if you are unable to resolve sudden service issues.
Regardless of the time of day, your website is expected to always be up and running. Ensure you can reach your hosting company’s support team by phone (not just email). It is necessary to have a human voice who will listen to your problems.
Surely, price is an important factor for many businesses, especially small startups. However, it will pay in the long run to consider other things besides cheap service offering. Many so-called cheap deals end up costing the customer a lot in web performance, efficiency, data security and more.
Some plans offer cheap services that are barely enough to cover a website’s important functions. When selecting a hosting company, pick one that covers the requirements for your website. It may cost you a bit more, but you’ll have peace of mind knowing your website is safe, secure and functional.
- Substantial bandwidth and RAM size
The bandwidth size allows a hosting company accommodate large traffic demands and other heavy web functions, including storage. If your website is going to be dealing with high volumes of traffic regularly, it makes more business sense to choose a provider with large bandwidth. Learn how to calculate bandwidth here.
Your site may not have a lot of traffic at the moment but you want room for it to grow. The ideal web host is one who has a flexible package for your website. As the site grows, so does its need for server resources. You can switch to the next level hosting service to meet growing demands.
Consider storage space too. The media files such as images, video and data take up lots of space and you’ll be better off with more available options.
Other services to consider include data security, software updates and a user-friendly control panel. Now that you know what to look out for, you can make better hosting decisions for your website.