Choosing a web hosting service on which to situate your business website is a decision which is not to be taken lightly. unlike where hobby or personal websites are concerned, having a host which is not properly suited to your requirements, or isn’t reliable, can not only affect the image and trust of your business, but can have a significant detrimental effect on your bottom line.
When deciding who to choose as your web host you will obviously have to ensure they support any and all of your websites software or script requirements. this may encompass such things as PHP, CGI, ASP, MSSQL, MySQL, etc. In addition to that however, you will usually need to ensure that your hosts services offerings meet not only your websites needs, but that their business practices meet your needs as a customer who demands and deserves rock-solid performance and reliability.
The dilemma we face is this: how can we separate the non-contenders from those which are genuinely suited? Here are 3 tips for accomplishing exactly that.
1. Check your hosts reliability and up-time statistics.
Perhaps second only to losing your website data is it being inaccessible either to yourself or your customers. a non-functioning website is as good as having no website, and even if you’re not relying on your online presence to drive sales directly, your website being inaccessible for any length of time has the potential to be damaging of the trust and respect you could have or may already have built up – not only amongst potential customers but also the wider general public.
It’s a given that every web host whose site you visit will make claims of being reliable and trustworthy, but as the saying goes, the proof is in the pudding. In this case, the pudding is your potential web hosts up-time statistics. Any web host with a reliable, honorable track-record will often publish up-time statistics in order to illustrate the level of reliability you can expect based on their past service history. Now, things can and will go wrong from time-to-time, and every web host needs to perform occasional scheduled maintenance in order to ensure the security and integrity of their servers and their network. For this reason it’s unlikely any web host can guarantee a 100% up-time. a more realistic level would be along the lines of 99.5% to 99.9% up-time. Indeed, any less would be considered sub-par by modern standards, and a guarantee of any more is likely to be a lie.
Statistics published by and as a result of a web hosts self-monitoring is one thing, but statistics can and often are tampered with. In order to eradicate this possibility, look for a web host who instead (or in addition) outsource their up-time monitoring and statistics generating to a third-party non-affiliated company. this ensures your statistics are as unbiased and reliable as can be.
2. Ensure your host provides round-the-clock support through a multitude of different mediums.
When business is concerned, money is at stake as the bottom line. Couple this knowledge with the apparent likelihood that if things go wrong, they often will at the worst possible time. the last thing you need during a time of crisis is a web host which is near impossible to contact or isn’t anywhere near rapid enough with their response times.
In order to ensure the best possible experience you will need a web host which offers so-called 24/7 support. that is support personnel who are available to respond and take action on any of your queries any time of the day or night, any day of the week. many hosts offer an online ticket-based support system as their primary means of dealing with support queries. whilst this may be sufficient for the website hobbyist, the delay involved in typing out the request coupled with the limitations of text-based communication means that being forced to deal with your web host online during a time of urgency can often delay the resolution to your problem unnecessary. you will usually want to ensure that your web host also has a 24/7 phone number available for emergency issues, an immediate call-back service or in the very least a round-the-clock live chat system.
3. your host should take the integrity of your data as seriously as you do.
With modern websites often having complex database-driven back-ends, the content of an average website changes more frequently today than it used to. this is certainly the case when e-commerce websites are concerned.
The worst possible thing that can happen is for your data to be lost. Even if you keep relatively frequent backups in the event of such a loss, the data you hold can be exceptionally outdated even if only a few days or hours old. to avoid what can often prove to be a major headache – or in a worst case scenario, a monumental disaster – you will want to ensure that your web host employs redundancy in their data storage and takes frequent, periodic backups of your hosting accounts entire data pool.
In the event of a data loss, your host will then have a backup (or series of backups) which are much more up-to-date than your personal backups would be, and lot faster and easier to restore. In some cases, this could be done by your web host without them having to liaise with you first, thus reducing the delay in getting your website back online and functioning normally. this is why it imperative that your web host takes your data integrity very seriously and conducts their own regular backups of your data instead of placing all responsibility on their customer.
If you consider consider these 3 points when searching for a web host for your business, you will increase your chances of steering clear of many of the problems other less fortunate business owners experience who may have been too hasty and not cautious enough when choosing their web host.