Searching for a good hosting company to host your website is like looking for office space to rent for your business. A hosting company that rent you space on their servers to host your website make it possible your online office location where people can get to know who you, what you do and where to locate your office address. As a company or private individual that wants to expand your business beyond it present place must need a good hosting package that is secure, fast and reliable. For your business to be online lots of factors have to be considered which will include the nature of your business, features of the hosting package needed, location of your server, and yearly budget.
Key factors are:
You need to identify what your needs are before approaching hosting company. This stage is very crucial in making a decision of which hosting company to settle for after thinking thoroughly on your own needs.
These are some of the basic questions you need to answer for yourself:
- What kind of website are you building – eCommerce, WordPress blog, dating custom CMS site, etc?
- Is it Windows or PHP or Java application?
- Do your website need a special version of software before it can run?
- What is your estimated traffic volume per month?
- Is what you need is Shared Hosting or Virtual Private Server (VPS) or Dedicated Server?
- Do you want your domain name (www.yourcompany.com) and hosting server to be with one hosting company or not?
- Where do you want your hosting company to be – Uk, USA, Canada, Nigeria, South Africa, or where?
2. Hosting Packages and Price
The best hosting services you can get boiled down to Speed, Security and Support and any hosting company that cannot give you these 3 S’s doesn’t worth buying hosting package from them. Besides the packages offer is the cost, is it within your budget or not? This is a critical question you need to answer because good things are costly at times. Hosting prices come in a range of $5 - $100 a month and dedicated server may cost twice than that in some cases. What is important is the nature of your business and your estimated monthly traffic that should guide you in making the right decision of which package to buy. If you're a start-up or an existing business with 10-20 web pages I will advise you to go for a shared hosting while e-commerce or dating sites should go for VPS. Dedicated server is meant for a corporate organisation who don’t mind the yearly rental cost but need a server with greater security features, bandwidth, and storage system which can be used to store large data information securely.
If you're a start-up or an existing business with 10-20 web pages I will advise you to go for a shared hosting while e-commerce or dating sites should go for VPS. Dedicated server is meant for a corporate organisation who don’t mind the yearly rental cost but need a server with greater security features, bandwidth, and storage system which can be used to store large data information securely.
Most importantly, ensure whatever hosting package to pay for is having most of these features listed below:
- Disk Storage – decide on your storage capacity with the ability to upgrade in the future.
- Monthly Traffic – go for enough monthly traffic that could power your website 24/7 without going off.
- Unlimited Email Accounts – this will allow you to create unlimited email accounts for your staff.
- SSL Certificate – do they give free or paid SSL or not? The best is to go for hosting service with free SSL this will help to protect your website from hackers.
- Do their features include cPanel access, sub-domains, parked domains, unlimited MYSQL database, unlimited FTP accounts, 99% / 100% uptime guarantee, daily backup, package upgrade, plus other free features?
In addition, having a managed hosting services will make sure your system is configured properly for your load, keep an eye on security issues, patch your software as needed and manage backups among other tasks.
3. Hosting Control Panel (cPanel)
A user-friendly and well functional hosting control panel is very important for easy access and to manage your hosting account, email and others.
You are free to choose a cPanel or a Plesk or a third party control panels like that of Bluehost.com or GoDaddy or 1and1.com. Hosting cPanel allows you to manage your account even when you don’t know much about coding and system configuration. Good hosting cPanel makes it easy for you to create email addresses, check and manage email accounts, create FTP to allow website files upload, set some security features, monitor your website traffic, backup files periodically, and lots more.
Planning to design and host a website must include security features which should be one of the dominant factors to consider when shopping for a hosting company. Website security must be part of the things to take seriously by developer even during coding of the website which should be in addition to security put in place by the hosting company. When planning for a hosting company ensure their services include automatic software update, daily/periodic backup system, SSL to protect the website, antivirus, form validation, and much more.
No matter how good your web skills, or how reliable the hosting company, there will certainly come a time when something will go wrong, or you’ll need to ask a question. When that time comes, you want to make sure you have a dedicated customer service team waiting to answer your queries. If no such team exists, you could be left without a functioning website until you manage to fix the issue yourself – or even move to another host.
When looking at a hosting company’s customer service, factors you should look out for include where they are based, whether they have a live chat customer service, and how you can contact them. Also, do they support ticket and what is their responses time to issue? Sincerely, you may not know this at first unless you order and pay for their services. Meanwhile, there is still some possibility that you can do to make you know if the company has good support policy in place or not. Search the internet for answers on how people who have used their services before or presently have rated them – seek you shall find!
6. Refund Policy
These are some basic questions to ask before signing up:
- Should you choose to cancel your host within the trial period, does the company provide full money return?
- What is the hosting company’s refund policy after the trial session?
- Is there any cancellation charges?
It’s important to know your hosting provider handle customer refunds so that you don’t have to lose too much money when things go wrong.
There are some hosting companies that charge absurdly high cancellation fees when users cancel their account during the trial period. Our advice? Avoid these hosting providers at all cost. On the other hand, some hosting companies provide anytime money back guarantees where you can ask for a pro-rated refund after your trial period.
7. Site Backup
There are times when a site crashes, perhaps a hacker got into your website and replaced your index.php file, or your entire database got destroyed, or the server had a severe hard disk failure.
If your web hosting does site backups regularly then there is nothing to worry about when these incidents happen. Your hosting provider should be able to restore back your full site in no time.
On backups, here are a few key questions to ask before choosing your web host:
- Do they provide full backups regularly?
- Can site backup be done easily via the control panel?
- Can you create auto backup your site easily via cron job or other programs?
- Can you restore your backup files by yourself easily (so you don’t have to wait for the support staffs to do it for you during disaster time)?
In summary, read the reviews of every web hosting company who has the features you need. Forums are also great for getting some operative feedback about this or that web hosting company and their security and customer support.