How to choose a web hosting company.
by Rob Owen
Posted on 9th December 2020
Designing and developing websites is becoming increasingly easier and more accessible thanks to an expanding array of site builder tools.
But finding the right place to host your website can be just as important as you might end up paying too much or for things you simply do not need.
Here are some questions you should ask to determine the best hosting provider for you.
Which content management systems are supported?
Most modern websites nowadays incorporate a content management system (CMS) and depending on your requirements, you might want to set up a WordPress, Joomla, or Drupal website.
But in future your requirements may change and you might need to transition to another CMS or incorporate additional functionality such as ecommerce.
A good web hosting platform should incorporate an installation wizard or ‘one click’ setup to allow you to install the CMS of your choice. They should also offer extra tools to help tailor your website for your specific needs such as an ecommerce website and allow you to customise it with minimal effort.
In future you may find your requirements have changed and you may want to move hosting to another provider. Does your host support easy transfer of your website to another host?
How much access do you get?
The level of access you get to your website and server configuration can be crucial when choosing a hosting service.
Some companies provide basic site-level administration only, such as admin access to WordPress. While this can be suitable for basic websites, it will become a limitation when you want to expand the capabilities of your website according to your organisation’s needs.
You may need additional control such as FTP access, database management or file management and perhaps advanced features such as DNS management and email hosting.
Most hosts will provide a selection of packages at different price points with different array of features so make sure you check your package has everything you need.
What is the uptime agreement?
If you are deciding to make your website the main medium for your business, then uptime will be a major factor in choosing a hosting platform.
Most hosting providers may provide a 99% uptime guarantee, but is this as good as it sounds?
Take 99% over an entire year of 365 days which means they only guarantee your site will be up for 361 days which means your site could potentially be offline for 4 days.
Could your business cope with 4 days of downtime every year?
What is the level of support?
At some point you will need to contact your hosting provider for support. Whether it is because something has gone wrong or you just can’t figure out how to do something.
You should really look for a company that offers live support and have a clear support agreement.
Stay clear of hosting companies that point you to a list of FAQ’s or only provide email support.
Also ask the question whether priority support is given if your site is offline or inaccessible.
Will you be protected?
We hear more and more cases of websites being hacked or DDoS (distributed denial-of-service) attacks so you should find out what protection your hosting company will provide.
Do they provide regular security updates and patches to remove or mitigate any vulnerabilities?
In summary, before you decide on a hosting provider make sure you do your homework and only pay for what you actually need.
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