When it’s time to find a home for your small business’ website, there are a lot of good Web hosting companies to choose from. But with all those options, how can you determine which is better than another? By using this checklist of little known things that make a good Web hosting company great.
While the primary items on our checklist seem basic, the devil is in the details as they say. That’s why each of these checklist items has one or more sub-items, each of which highlight the lesser known features and options that you should include in your decision-making process.
What Makes a Good Web Hosting Company Great
One of the most important things to consider when choosing a good Web hosting company is uptime. Also known as availability, uptime is a measure of the percentage of time your website is up and available to visitors. Bottom-line: the closer to 100 percent uptime, the better.
Good web hosting companies will promise, and deliver, on a very high percentage of uptime. Great Web hosting companies go the extra mile by offering:
- Duplicate servers within one data center: if the server your website is on goes down, a duplicate server kicks in so there’s no uptime interruption.
- Duplicate servers within multiple data centers: if a natural disaster occurs, a duplicate server in the same location will not keep your website up. If however, the duplicate servers are in multiple locations on different sides of the country or even on a different continent, your site has a much better chance of staying up and avilable.
- Uptime guarantee: the best Web hosting companies offer an uptime guarantee and, if they fail to fulfill their promise, they will compensate you for lost business with free services or pay damages directly.
The speed at which your website loads and functions, is a critical factor online as slow sites lose leads and customers. Faster is better and good Web hosting companies continually strive to increase the speed of the sites they host. Great Web hosting companies:
- Use servers with solid state drives (SSD): SSDs are much faster than traditional hard drives when accessing data.
- Limit the number of sites that share one server: this will increase the amount of resources available to each site on each shared-hosting server.
- Use caching to pre-load unchanged parts of the site: when a part of your site is cached, it can be displayed much more quickly because the server does not have to build it every time it’s shown.
Cyber security is a hot topic for small businesses as more and more of them come under attack. Good Web hosting companies protect your site using standard security measures. Great Web hosting companies hold down the fort by:
- Automated malware scans: it’s bad enough that malware can knock you site offline. Taken one step further, malware can commandeer your site and use it to send SPAM and even to launch attacks on other sites, running the reputation you’ve worked so hard to build. Automated malware scans alert you to the danger so you can protect your business.
A malware security example (source: siteground.com)
- CloudFlare integration: many of the best hosting companies have begun offering integration with CloudFlare, a well-known solution that provides security as well as other useful features for your site.
- Firewall management: having a Firewall up and running to protect the sites a hosting company houses is routine. Great hosting companies go above and beyond by enabling each customer to configure their own firewall so they can manage access and security 24/7 without submitting a support ticket.
Having help available when you need it takes a lot of frustration out of managing your small business’ website. Good Web hosting companies offer a system for you to submit tickets that are then resolved by their staff. Great Web hosting companies offer:
- Live support: there’s nothing better than picking up the phone and reaching a live person who can answer your questions and help you resolve your problems right there and then.
- Priority support: if you can’t reach a live person, the next best thing is having the option to pay for priority support where your tickets jump to the front of the line.
- Knowledge database and tutorials: why get on the phone at all if you can look up the answer for yourself or learn what you need via a tutorial?
- Community forums: these serve as great resources not only learning and problem-solving but also for learning the best way to work with your hosting company from other customers.
Quotas, or limits, can make or break your website hosting budget. Good Web hosting companies offer more than you need at reasonable prices. Great Web hosting companies offer:
- Unlimited everything: that’s right, the sky’s the limit when it comes to:
- Storage for your site’s code, files and database;
- The traffic that visits your site;
- Sub domains; and
- Email and FTP Accounts.
Great Web hosting companies also offer the following goodies:
- Backups: there are tons of reasons why you should be backing up your website. Unfortunately, time gets away from us and many small businesses forget this important task. Don’t worry however because great hosting companies can help you stay on top of this job by backing up your site for you.
- Domain Privacy: if your email inbox is full of SPAM, one of the main culprits may be your domain listing. Domain privacy hides your identity by substituting your personal information with the hosting company’s details.
A domain privacy example (source: siteground.com)
- SSL/TSL: if your site has ecommerce functionality, you’ll need to guarantee the privacy of your customer’s personal and payment information using Single Socket Layer (SSL) or its successor, Transport Layer Security (TLS) to do so. Great hosting companies support the different varieties and can even sell you one your own.
- Easy install of blogs, shopping carts, polls and much more: via the Softaculous, you can add tons functionality to your website easily:
Web hosting needs vary from business to business. Good Web hosting companies support those needs by offering both shared hosting or the use of a dedicated server. Great Web hosting companies give you even more options:
- Multiple levels of hosting within each type: within the worlds of shared hosting and dedicated servers, there’s still a way to hone in on the level of hosting you need. Great hosting companies offer packages that bundle different pieces of all the items listed above at multiple price levels to fit your budget.
- Easy upgrades to different packages – as your business grows, so will your Web hosting needs. Great Web hosting companies make it easy for you to upgrade from one package to another, enabling you to seamlessly scale as you grow.
There are a lot of good Web hosting companies out there. Use the little known items on this checklist above to determine which of them are good – and which are great.
Good luck in your search!