A website has become an essential element of marketing for online business, small and large. “What can I find the most suitable business hosting?” is a frequently asked question when a business owner considers setting up a website.
There is a large number of business hosting providers boasting about excellent customer support, amazing uptime and unlimited resources at disposal. It might seem like a daunting task when you read through their sales pitch and see what they are really about.
Given that, we guide you through the steps for choosing a suitable business hosting plan before you roughly place an order with a web host.
Step 1: Understand Your Business Needs
Explicitly identifying your website needs before doing anything else can help a lot, making it possible for you to get the right business hosting package easily and quickly. There are plenty of things can affect your business needs, which is why we suggest you ask yourself the following questions to determine what exactly you’re looking for:
- What type of business website you are going to host for? (blog, e-commerce, informational, etc.)
- What amount of web traffic are you expecting?
- Do you need to use any apps or special software on your website?
- Are you planning to enlarge or upgrade the business hosting plan in the future?
All these are the core things you need to consider. If you’re a small business owner looking to start a brand new website online, going with a shared business hosting is recommended. This is because you won’t be getting a lot of traffic and your needs are simply not that big; importantly, shared business hosting is cost-effective and easy to maintain. As with your business website outgrowing the existing hosting solution, you can upgrade it to a VPS, cloud, or a dedicated server plan.
Step 2: What does the business hosting include?
Most business hosting providers have developed a wide range of hosting plans with specific features packaged together. Making sure your business hosting plan includes what you need is critically important to the success of your online business.
Typically, you will need to choose from two operating systems—Windows and Linux. Although it doesn’t influence your HTML websites, you should pay attention to whether the apps or software you’re going to install are supported by both the operating systems. In the case of creating a business site using WordPress, you’d better host it with a Linux server since it has been proven that Linux servers can support WordPress perfectly.
cPanel and Plesk are the most popular control panels used in the industry. You might don’t want to manage your business hosting environment using a hard-to-use custom control panel. Before subscribing to the service of a hosting company, you are advised to ensure the business hosting plan includes either of the control panels; if not, at least a proven user-friendly customer control panel.
The disk space or disk storage offered by a business hosting provider relates to your website size and the volume of databases and files stored on a server. However, the need for disk space is based on your business. For example, a videography business will require a much larger disk space.
Although many hosting companies are claiming that their business hosting plans include unlimited disk space, you should keep in mind that “unlimited disk space” doesn’t seriously mean “unlimited storage”. Particularly when your business website is hosted on a shared server, you have to share the resources with a number of other webmasters.
Data transfer, also known as bandwidth in some business hosting plans, refers to the total amount of data you can send and receive each month. Usually, the basic data transfer offerings is sufficient as long as you are not planning to run a highly visited business website or upload video content using your shared server.
Make sure your business hosting provider provides domain registration service so that you can have all your services under one roof. Additionally, whether the web host offers multi-domain support can be your consideration. This is because you might need to host a new website for a project or a campaign throughout the life of your business.
Custom email accounts are of great importance to your business branding. When looking at the email features, you need to focus on two things: the overall storage allocation and email server security.
In the process of setting up a business website, you may need to install a CMS software such as WordPress, Joomla or Drupal, a forum software like phpBB or vBulletin, or an e-commerce software such as Magento or osCommerce. Different software often requires different server specifications in order to run flawlessly.
A website builder could be a good complementary to website creation. It doesn’t have some robust features as content management software do. But it is sufficient for non-techie business owners like you, who just look to build a 5-page HTML website. Because most widely-used website builders can offer you easy-to-use customization options and a gallery of design templates.
Step 3: Check the server location and uptime
The location of where your website is hosted is important. When your business website is hosted at a near server location, your visitors will experience a faster loading times.
Meanwhile, the amount of time your server is up and running smoothly can significantly affect user experience. A reliable business hosting company would go the extra mile by offering you a 99.9%+ uptime guarantee.
Step 4: Does it offer website backup?
It is inevitable that you make mistakes sometimes. Even worse, the mistakes may cause you to lose money. So, making sure you have the ability to have your business website rolled back to a previous version as quick as possible is important.
You’re advised to check if your business hosting provider performs a regular backups and how you can access them when you need to restore your website.
When it comes to website backups, here are the questions you should ask:
- How often the company performs full website backups?
- How many versions are stored on each server?
- Is it possible for you to restore backup files by yourself?
- How long does it take for your business website to be back online?
Step 5: Check the quality of technical support
Technical support is also an important thing to be considered because you might encounter various difficulties and you need to have someone to help fix things promptly.
An outstanding business hosting service would enable you to contact their support staffs around the clock via multiple channels, including toll-free phone calls, LiveChat, email and/or ticketing system. In addition to that, you can have access to rich self-help resources, for instance, an extensive knowledgebase.