Guide: What to Look For When Choosing a Web Host
Choosing the right web host from the get-go can save you a little bit of money, and a lot of unwanted headaches down the road. Most web experts recommend assessing web hosting companies based on five primary factors:
- Security measures in place for your data
- Redundancy and backup of files
- Page load speeds
- Uptime percentages
- Customer service
While cost obviously plays a role, it shouldn’t be your primary determining factor when choosing a web host for your company or your personal website. Here’s what should:
Top-Notch Security Is a Must
According to figures compiled by Microsoft, cybercrime could potentially add up to $500 billion or more in costs to the online community. The picture painted by a 2017 Juniper Research report is even bleaker and predicts total financial losses resulting from data breaches will reach $8 trillion by 2022.
Creating a Comprehensive Security Plan
The best web hosting sites typically offer a range of tools to secure your infrastructure, protect your users and block hackers. Look for the essentials such as firewalls, website scanners, SSL certificates and 2-factor or multi-factor user authentication (2FA or MFA). Making sure your hosting company can provide a secure environment for your data and your website is critical to your ongoing success.
Regular and Reliable Backups Are Essential
Another factor to consider when choosing a web hosting company is the ability of the web host to back up your data on a regular basis. For companies and businesses that conduct online commerce, data should be backed up at least once a day. Personal websites may not require the same frequency for backups. Making sure your data is safe and protected through regular backups can help you maintain your web presence more effectively. That is to say, in the event your website is attacked, crashes, or is broken, you need a reliable, easily accessible backup.
Planning for Unexpected Events
Simply copying the data over to another part of the server or to another server in the same building is not adequate to provide real redundancy for your data. In the event of a large-scale natural disaster, your data could be at risk of loss if all servers in a particular web hosting node are affected. Making sure your hosting company protects your data even if power is interrupted for an extended period of time or if the servers on-site are at risk is critical.
Creating Real Redundancy
Redundancy is categorized in four ways:
- Hardware redundancy measures are designed to allow seamless shifting from one hard drive or physical component of your server to another if a failure should occur.
- Power redundancy ensures that your website can stay up and running even if there is a catastrophic power failure at your web hosting company. This is usually accomplished with a combination of uninterrupted power supply units, generators and multiple utility providers in different locations.
- Network redundancies are created using multiple internet carriers to ensure optimal uptime for your websites.
- Geographic redundancy allows your website to continue to operate even when hazardous conditions exist in the specific area in which your web hosting company is primarily located.
Making sure your web hosting company can deliver true redundancy can ensure the greatest security for your valuable data and the best experience for your customers/readers.
Page Load Times Can Make a Big Difference
A number of scientific studies have illustrated the importance of page load speed in attracting and retaining customers and readers.
- A 2009 study commissioned by Akamai found that 47 percent of end users expressed impatience when websites took longer than two seconds to load. The study also indicated that 40 percent of these visitors will abandon a website if it does not load within three seconds.
- A survey conducted by Gomez and published in 2010 found that increasing page load times from two seconds to 10 seconds increased the chance that users would abandon the page by 38 percent.
The speed with which your pages load is clearly important to your ability to attract customers and to earn their business and their continuing loyalty in the online environment.
Speed Is Critical to Achieving Higher Google Rankings
In April 2010, Google announced that site speed would be an important factor in determining the rankings assigned to various sites. Making sure that your web host delivers fast load times and site speeds can potentially deliver higher rankings on Google and other web search engines, allowing you to achieve greater visibility among your target audience.
Competing With the Most Successful Websites
Testing conducted by Pingdom in May 2016 indicated that 78 percent of the top 100 retail sites had load times of less than three seconds. By optimizing your website and choosing the right web hosting provider, you can enhance your ability to compete effectively within your industry or your niche of the online world.
Uptime and Downtime Percentages Could Affect Your Reputation
Reliability and availability are important aspects to consider when shopping around for web hosting. This is frequently referred to as uptime or how often your website is “up.” The best web hosts have uptime rates of 99.9% or greater.
The opposite of uptime is downtime. Prolonged downtime can have a chilling effect not only on your potential for profits but also on your company’s reputation in the online community. A 2017 Wirehive survey found that 68 percent of respondents stated that their impression of a brand would be tarnished if its website was not available when they tried to reach it. About 57 percent of those responding to the survey indicated that they would choose not to purchase from a website that experienced excessive downtime.
Protecting Your Name
It only makes sense that companies with unreliable web presences could lose the trust of potential customers. Evaluating web hosting companies with an eye toward their uptime guarantees and their actual performance can help you to make the most practical decision for your web commerce sites and your corporate web presence. This can help you maintain a solid reputation for responsiveness and reliability among current and prospective clients.
Outstanding Customer Support Can Save the Day
Choosing the right web hosting company can come down to the degree of support they provide for your business. At a minimum, your web hosting provider should offer the following services:
- Technical support lines staffed 24 hours a day, seven days a week and on weekends: Whether you’re a professional webmaster or a novice, you’ll likely require assistance from your web host’s support team at some point. It’s important to ensure your web host offers 24-hour support. A toll-free phone number is vital if you don’t want to pay for long-distance calls, and all reliable web hosting providers support you through email and online chat. They’ll help you through your problems and ensure your issue is resolved (the good ones). Response time is also critical: excellent support is live (phone or online), or when someone gets back to you within minutes; over an hour is unacceptable. Some web hosts simply point you to documentation or help pages on their website, which isn’t always the most helpful or speedy way to solve your problem. It’s worth it to investigate the type of support offered by your web host before you sign up.
- Guaranteed uptime percentages:We really can’t say enough about the importance of uptime to your website’s reputation, online traffic and conversion rates.
- The ability to upgrade your server space and bandwidth:Making sure your web hosting company can provide you with the server storage and bandwidth needed for your online activities is essential for expanding and growing businesses in the modern marketplace.By choosing a hosting provider that offers these necessary services, you can ensure the fastest possible resolution for issues that arise. The right customer service and technical support can help you stay competitive in the online world.
Web hosting prices range from as little as $3 per month to more than $75 per month, depending on features and options. Shared hosting is cheapest and could be a good option if you’re just starting out, as chances are you don’t need much space or bandwidth. Most shared hosting companies charge $3–8 per month for a decent amount of disk space and an assortment of features. Dedicated servers can cost over $75 per month as they are more secure, fully customizable, and provide faster page load times, since the resources are not shared.