When choosing a web host, what criteria should a business owner look for? Since there is a vast difference between choosing a free web host and a commercial hosting solution, several factors need to be evaluated before making a final decision.
Types of Web Hosting
Before choosing a host, it’s important to truly understand what type of service the website needs, the type of server a business requires, the exact budget and the kind of services each web host offers. Hosting options available include:
- Shared Hosting.
- Free Hosting.
- Collocated Hosting.
- Dedicated Hosting.
When you hear the word free, what do you think? Some of you may think scam, while others are happy to go with the flow. Free hosting is a great choice when someone is looking to build a website only for fun. Unfortunately, in the world of free hosting, the connection can be slow, websites don’t always work well and advertisements are added to your website automatically.
There are some companies that require the purchase of your chosen domain name in order to receive free hosting while others will offer you a “gratis” subdomain underneath them (name.webhost.com). Keep in mind that with free hosting services, you aren’t able to transfer free subdomains.
If a shared hosting environment is chosen, remember that it’s divided with others who share one server. This involves sharing of the physical server and all of the software applications. Most often, shared hosting is quite affordable because the actual cost to operate it is divided between multiple users who are sharing the server. However, there is a downside to shared hosting. For example, the server may be slower than one expected.
Under collocated hosting, businesses are able to purchase their own server and it’s housed within the facilities of the web host. Business owners are completely responsible for the server. One huge advantage of this type of hosting server is that companies are in full control of the web server. They are able to install applications and scripts as needed.
When choosing dedicated hosting, companies will have the web server all to themselves. This affords them faster performance, as they have all of the server’s resources at their fingertips without having to share with other website owners. This is an optimal choice for businesses that require a higher level of security.
If opting for a Cloud server, the virtual space is rented as opposed to purchasing or renting the physical server. More often than not, fees are based on an hourly rate depending on the capacity required. Since Cloud servers function as “software-independent” units, it doesn’t depend on centrally-installed software to perform.
Tips on making a Final Decision
How does a business owner or freelancer decide if web host will satisfy all of their needs? Reputation is everything. It’s built upon customer satisfaction, quality of service and reliability. Before making that final decision, it’s a good idea to do a little research to ensure the host is credible.
- Pricing usually is the most important aspect when trying to choose a provider. However, don’t let it be the deciding factor. Although there will be considerable differences in pricing from host to host, going with the least expensive option isn’t always the best route. Things like quality hardware and non-outsourced support system costs money, and a hosting provider that charges $2.00 per month probably won’t offer these features.
- Stellar uptime records are crucial to the success of any business online. What’s more important than a 24/7 operating host? Companies need a web host that operates on a server that’s powerful with stable connections. The rule of thumb is anything above 99.5 percent is recommended; anything below 99 percent is totally unacceptable.
- Hosting review sites such as Hosting Facts and DesignBombs offer honest reviews. Take the time to read the reviews.
- Ask if there are strict limitations on usage? Even though reviews offer a lot of information, they usually don’t inform potential buyers that some hosts will pull the plug if there is too much CPU usage. Before signing up, read the rules of limitation.
- Inquire about their refund policy. What’s the refund policy after the trial period is over? Some hosting services charge insanely high fees if cancellation is requested. Knowing this beforehand prevents major headaches down the road.
Know What’s Needed
Without knowing exactly what is needed, business owners will never make the right decision when choosing a web host. Basically, the following questions need to be addressed before making any decisions:
- Are Windows applications needed?
- What type of website needs to be constructed?
- Will the website need special software?
- What is the desired amount of traffic?
In addition to the above questions, knowing how much space is required to run the website is crucial. If expansion comes to mind, then one must anticipate such in the future. Most websites utilize less than 5 MB of space. Needs will vary depending on the quantity of photos the website uses and whether it contains video clips or sound files.
Furthermore, it’s imperative to truly know the reliability of the chosen host. It can’t be emphasized enough how important this is for a business owner. A website that’s frequently down will lose a lot of potential customers. In addition, visitors will become frustrated if they are constantly confronted with pages that won’t load properly.
Positive feedback is a must when it comes making the right decision. If all else fails, taking a test drive during peak and off-peak hours will afford business owners the opportunity to see the pros and cons firsthand, thus giving them the ability to make a well-informed decision.
For companies that are new to the Internet, it’s a good idea to start small and choose a reputable shared host. It’s easy to maintain, it’s affordable and is generally sufficient for newcomers. Additionally, upgrading to a dedicated server or VPS is always a possibility is needed.