Picking A Web Host Can Really Cause Headaches
Unless you’re a seasoned veteran in the online marketing space you know that you’re going to have to set up your own website in order to brand your business. The problem comes when it’s time to choose a good hosting service. With so many options available to you today you’re really going to have to do your homework. Or you could very well find yourself searching for a new provider not very far down the road. Which is something you would really love to avoid, because moving a site is anything but easy. But there is light at the end of the tunnel.
How Do You Pick A Good Host?
The number one thing that most people look for when picking a host is price. Although when you actually get your business online running, and bringing in a decent income, this will be the last of your worries.
Typically though, you are going to be able to find several we hosting services online that all have comparable shared hosting accounts for a rather low monthly fee.
These accounts do come with a drawback however, and that is when your site starts to really generate a lot of traffic. Shared hosting providers want you to upgrade eventually, so they slow you’re loading time down a lot when you’re drawing a lot of server resources. Forcing you to move to a Virtual Private Server (VPS) solution or a dedicated server.
Of course if you already have an established site and you’re looking for another hosting provider because of this issues. A VPS or dedicated server solution is going to cost you a bit more than you’re used to. But in the end you will be able to control your sites better and provide a better customer experience overall.
The important thing to do when considering a shared hosting plan is to ensure that you do a Bing search for web hosting reviews. All of the top web hosting companies have at least a few customers who have written them for you. And if they have an affiliate program, you should have no problem finding a couple hundred.
2) The second thing that you want to determine is how good the customer service for your potential hosting company is. The best thing to do is to get on a live chat with them during the business day.
You’re doing it during the business day because this is typically the point of the day that they are going to be the busiest. This will allow you the opportunity to find out what the average waiting times are.
This live chat will also allow you to interact with a service agent. I ask question like, “What kind of plan do I need”, “Do you migrate sites for free?”, “If only one site migration is free, how much for four more?”
If you have multiple sites by the way, these questions are important because most providers do only move one free of charge and the rest are extra. By asking them you will know how much you’re going to end up spending upon opening the account.
Calling the hosting company can also be a great help when picking the right one. There is nothing better than voice communication with an organization you’re going to be in a long term business relationship with. So do that as well. As with the online customer service option, ask the same questions and see how they interact with you.
Note: It’s better to talk with a technical representative rather than a sales representative. The technical people are the ones who are going to end up helping you down the road in the future.
3) The third thing you want to look at is which control panel your hosting provider has installed on their servers. You can find out this information on your live call or chat.
You’re asking because if you’re brand new you do not want to have to get a technical degree in order to install something as simple as a WordPress installation.
I prefer cPanel over Plesk because it’s just easier to navigate.
Also make sure your provider has Fantasico installed. This gem a software will install over 300 different types of content management software onto your server at the push of a button. Making getting the site up a snap.
If you’re going for VPS or dedicated server solution ask them what operating system is on the servers. Some offer the option of either Linux or Windows.
This is important to know if you have never used Linux, again you don’t want to have to spend two or three days learning the operating system just to manage your site.
I also suggest you get a fully managed server option when you pick up a hosting package that includes a virtual or dedicated server.
It’s for the peace of mind in case you delete something that you didn’t mean to. Trust me, when you play around with something like your database and lock yourself out of our site, you’re going to be glad they are there.
4) The fourth thing you need to take into consideration is the up time the hosting company averages.
You can do a search in Bing for hosting company uptime comparisons and be able to do this.
Also look for negative reviews about how the hosting company you’re looking at had an outage.
I’ll save you the time with HostGator and other EIG owned hosts, they have a lot of downtime.
Note: Let me quite upfront on the HostGator comment. My site is actually currently on a shared account with them. When I was originally picking a web host I looked at their shared Business account and agreed that is was the right one for me. After they were purchased by EIG however, a lot of people began having significant issues with them as they started migrating sites to new servers. These days their customer service reputation as a whole is in the dumps. I will admit that I have only had one time when they could not help me.
5) The fifth thing for your review is how fast the server loads websites.
This one will also require you’re to do a search on Bing. You’re looking for “shared hosting page speed comparison” or something similar.
You’re only looking for shared hosting comparisons because if you choose to go with a virtual private server or a dedicated server option it’s going to be different. Here you’re going to have to choose from memory size, bandwidth, disk size, and few other options. Your best bet is to get the provider to recommend the solution best for your site. Most companies that provide hosting allow you to scale your plan up or down as you need.
6) Disk space is the sixth item on the list when picking a web host.
If your like me, and most other bloggers out there, your going to use a lot of images for your website. When you talking about one or two images per post, this can add up to a lot of space taken up on your server.
I have completely eliminated web hosting services from my list based on disk space alone. I know I need a lot, so why are you offering my 10GB on a hosting plan, next company please!
7) Bandwidth is the basically the amount of data that your server has to use in a period of time. All of the hosting companies, with exception to Amazon Web Services, use a monthly quota system when charging you.
Note: Amazon makes you pay monthly, but depending on which service your using, its a pay as you go type of plan.
Typically your payment plan is going to come with a certain amount.
If your creating a brand new site you really don’t need to worry about this because your bandwidth levels are going to be pretty small in the beginning. As you go you will make this a higher priority when your doing your web hosting review.
If your looking for a VPS or dedicated server, choose a company that lets you upgrade or downgrade depending on your needs.
8) There is nothing more professional for a small business owner than to have his or her own domain email address. When picking through the top web hosting companies make sure they offer unlimited email. If you don’t know what POP or IMAP mean don’t really its not a show stopper. All the good email clients, like Outlook or ThunderBird, walk you through connecting your accounts quickly.
The up side of having the ability to have unlimited email accounts is that you can choose to add your employees to your system. This not only helps make them feel as though they are part of the team. It increases your branding as they are handing it out when working on your behalf.
9) Do you know what an FTP account is?
Don’t worry I didn’t have a clue either until someone told me I need to use it to install a plugin once. I created a tutorial on using FileZilla you can use to get around the basics of it all.
In general though, your going to need this access at one point or another. If your not the up on all the technical stuff and you have a web develop managing your site, they are going to need it. I’ve looked a pretty much all of the best web hosting sites our there and have not run across one that does have the ability.
10) The final thing I want to touch on when your picking a web host is the ability to back up your website.
I can not express the importance of backing up your site at least on a weekly basis.
Once, I was messing around with some stuff on my site and completely crashed the entire thing. Gone, never to be seen again crashed, HostGator support say tough luck crashed.
I didn’t have a backup.
Lucky for me I was keeping a file with all of my posts on it. But I lost everything else, images, formatting, layout, everything!
The best web hosts will provide you with a back up service and its becoming increasingly a free service as part of your plan. If your going for a shared hosting solution though, expect to pay for it.
Of all the things you need to worry about when running a business online, or bringing your business to the internet, hosting is probably going to be the most important one.
The fact of the matter is you’re going to be establishing a long time relationship with a company and effectively putting your business in their hands. And that is a great responsibility to turn over when you’re solely operating on the internet.
Doing the proper research and discover before you purchase is absolutely vital to your success. Your site going down all the time. The speed of your site being to slow. Or a server not being able to handle the amount of traffic you send to it could absolutely destroy your sales, signups, and brand reputation.
When I am picking a web host these are my 10 crucial factors. These are the important things that I know that I deal with on a daily basis with all of my websites. I learned from running out of bandwidth. I learned from running out of disk space. I even learned from breaking my site and having to rebuild the entire thing from scratch. Experience has been my best teacher and it has been an excellent marketing lesson learned the hard way.
Your going to need to pick which web host factors are important to you. Your search for the best web hosts is going to be clouded in emotion, varied opinion, and just a touch of luck. But if you write down these 10 things on a piece of paper and check off as you review web host reviews it will be much easier. Your search for the right hosting company will end in you picking a web host you can trust and enjoy interacting with on a regular basis.
Featured Image courtesy of adamir / FreeDigitalPhotos.net