Choosing a web hosting service for a small business and/or startup company can seem like a daunting task at first. It really doesn’t have to be, though. There are a multitude of factors that go into choosing the right web host for each specific person, but luckily there are ways to whittle down your options until you find something perfect for you and your business. Instead of being overwhelmed by RAM numbers, coding, and promotional up sells, taking the time to do a little research on what you, personally, need for your website is the first step in choosing your perfect match.
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Things to check when choosing the best small business website hosting
While the start of a business is very exciting, it’s usually not the most profitable time in its existence. That’s why the first thing most people look at for the best website hosting for small business is the price. There are many different options for hosting contracts, and each business will need to decide what is best for them, but there are a few things to watch out for. First of all, using a free web host is never recommended. These sites often use buzz words to entice people into using their services, touting traits like “unlimited storage” which most sites provide anyway. Free sites will also, typically, put a limitation on daily bandwidth which would cause the site to stop being accessible after a set amount of views were hit on that day, rendering them virtually useless for medium to high traffic sites. If you intend on making money through your site, a paid web hosting would be the best bet.
It is, however, important to read the fine print on any contract you sign with a web hosting provider. Some of the best hosts come at a discounted price, which could be downwards of 5 dollars per month, but could see a massive increase by the time the contract expires and requires a new subscription. I’d suggest doing your due diligence on subscription information regardless of the price, but it’s especially necessary for the cheaper ones. Another aspect to look into for the cheaper/free hosts is their integration of advertisements. Free hosts will almost always flood your site with ads which your visitors will have to deal with.
Understanding the end goal to your site is imperative when deciding what features and speeds are going to be required for daily tasks. For example, if your site needs to be able to upload and play videos everyday then you would need more RAM and processing power than one which sticks to a more static approach which needs very little, if any, daily updating. The cheaper options will tend to promote their large storage space as a way to take the focus away from their limited features or options. Most sites won’t ever need that much storage anyway, as the offer extended to the site creator is usually over 100 GB and the average site uses less than 20 MB.
While disk space may not be a deal breaker, bandwidth should be. Your bandwidth will dictate how much traffic can be going through your site at any given moment, and running out could lead to many issues. Some hosts will charge you based on how much you go over your bandwidth limit in that particular month. Some sites will ask you to pre-pay in case of any future overages. Some hosts will even stop the site from being able to transfer data, making it temporarily useless. Knowing the amount of bandwidth a new site requires is a tough variable to break down considering no one knows how much traffic could be going through it during the first few months of it being live. It would behoove anyone looking for the best website hosting for small business to take the time and do some research on other similar sites to find out how much bandwidth they normally need.
It should go without saying that regardless of how much bandwidth, storage space, or whatever other technical features your host provides, none of that would matter without an extremely grounded and reliable system in place. Website uptime refers to the percentage of time your site would be up, running, and available to viewers each day. If a host claims their uptime is any less than ninety-nine percent, then you should immediately move on to the next option. Losing money or new clients because your host isn’t providing you with a working system is something that should never be a realistic problem. Fortunately, most hosts are trustworthy in this area and it doesn’t become a real issue very often.
Personalizing Your Website
Once you feel comfortable with your technical features, it’s time to start looking into personal preferences. There are a couple control panels, or user interfaces as some people call them, which are popular and easy to use. These control panels allow you to edit your site whenever you’d like without wasting your valuable time. CPanel and Plesk are two of the main control panels for editing websites on the market today and we also have hPanel which is a custom control panel developed by Hostinger. Both panels are highly regarded for ease of use and full-featured interfaces.
Script insertion has been extraordinarily welcomed as it’s gotten easier and easier to implement on your own as time goes on. Finding out which hosts offer which scripts, or if they offer script insertion at all, can go a long way to making your life easier. Scripts are pre-coded templates which can be installed onto your site in order to change the overall look, and sometimes usability of it. WordPress is a great example of a useful script that can be installed in many host services which becomes the prominent feature of the site, allowing for most changes and new content to be completed via the WordPress script. If a host doesn’t offer script insertion, and you’re not confident in your own coding ability, then you probably want to start looking for something else.
One of the most important, and most overlooked, aspects of choosing a web hosting is the technical support. Web sites are not perfect. When you have to use multiple parties to complete a task, it always gets a little cluttered, and in order to be in control, you need other people you can trust to help you out. This is what the technical support team is for. If your site goes down, or has slowed to a crawl, or even if you just forgot how to change your header… you want to be able to get that solution immediately. Waiting on hold for 2 hours may not be in the cards for you and your business so you need to be sure to choose a host that has support twenty four hours a day and seven days a week. Before choosing a host, calling each option to find out what sort of response time they have would be a good move.
Managing Online Sales
If your site requires the ability to sell products, then it may be in your best interest to find out if the host offers a secure server, or an SSL. These services are only necessary if you plan on taking on credit information yourself as opposed to utilizing a third party system such as Paypal. The hosting site may not promote the use of SSLs, so if you are interested in going down that route, speaking to someone directly about what the host company offers and how much additional cost would be added would benefit you.
Most hosting services also provide an email address which is directly linked to your site. If they do, you’ll want to find out what type of support their email uses in relation to the email software you currently use. Something many site runners look for in their email service is the ability to retrieve site-based emails using their own apps rather than being forced to log into their hosting service. Spam can also be a consideration. Some hosts have spam solution programs which will do its best to eliminate any unwanted spam mail. Some hosts will also claim to do that exact thing, but consistently fail in the area. If you are interested in having a serviceable and trustworthy email system through your web hosting, looking for some customer reviews online could get you the information you need.
Speaking of customer reviews, they are the final step before committing to a host. Of course, you can’t take any one review as fact, but doing the research and cross referencing multiple sites can give you a solid impression of what you’d be getting yourself into. You may think you found the perfect host for your needs until you find numerous people complaining about one particular issue repeatedly. It’s always smart to get other opinions, but remember to take each with a grain of salt. Make sure that if you are going to take customer feedback seriously, you take a large sample size and use your best judgment to figure out what you want to take as truth.
Creating a new site for your business can seem stressful without any knowledge in the area, but knowing what to look for goes a long way. Take the time to decide what you need your website to be, and then find the features that work for you. Remember, the better you understand what your goals are, the easier it will be to reach them, and this is no different when choosing the best website hosting for small business.