Choosing a Web Hosting Service
Because your company’s website is such an important tool in presenting a professional image, lead generation, interacting with clients and potentially selling merchandise, choosing the right hosting partner requires a number of considerations.
Probably the most important factor is the reliability of your hosting company. A customer or prospect has to be able to access your site when they want, and having your site "down" reflects poorly on your company and its professionalism.
Similarly, ask potential providers about technical support options, the ways you’d communicate with technical support (such as email, phone or chat) and typical response times for routine inquiries.
Other important factors to explore include:
- Your budget. Hosting can range from $5 to well over $1,000 per month or more, depending on your needs. This amount may vary from month to month if the provider charges based on bandwidth usage or if you exceed bandwidth allotments.
- Internet tools. Besides the website, you also should decide if you need email or FTP access. For instance, almost any Web server can host some kind of email, but not all providers offer Microsoft Exchange support. It also is important to consider the number of users you need.
- Bandwidth, storage and data transfer. A website’s speed is affected by the bandwidth and hardware capabilities of the server on which it is hosted, and the amount of traffic hitting that site at the same time. Ask your provider if they can grow with you as your site gets more traffic.
- Security and reliability. You should ask the hosting provider about the security measures they offer. An effective hosting provider will provide not only information security such as firewalls and anti-spam measures, but also physical security to protect the server from fire, heat, water or even theft.
- Routine data backups and emergency power generators are important measures to ensure the security and reliability of your site.
- Front-end tools. Website owners should have a range of tools readily available from the hosting provider, preferably through all-in-one packages. These include website analytics, which track the number of visitors to the site and where they come from, as well as assistance with Web design or database management. Ask to see one of their reports before signing up.