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Web Hosting: What to Look For In A Provider
A Website Owner's Guide to Web Hosting
Web hosts provide the technologies and services you need to publish and maintain a website. When you sign up with a web host, your website will be stored on their server. Most registrars offer an easy-to-use interface that connects directly with your domain name and helps to simplify your website management.
If you don't yet have a domain, you can register one at a registrar or see if your web host offers one as part of its package.
Here are a few things to consider when choosing a web host.
Should I pay for a web host or use a free service?
Like all decisions you make for your small business, evaluate what's best for you, your budget, and your customers.
- Consider the size and scope of your business. You may be able to get everything you need from a free web host. For example, the disk storage and data transfer a free web host offers might be more than sufficient for you and your small business. If you're just starting out, you also might not need some of the services that paid web hosts provide, such as multiple email accounts.
- Keep in mind that costs vary. Most basic web hosting services range from ten to twenty dollars, and some cost as little as a few dollars a month. Cheaper services may be especially interesting when you're beginning a new project or are not yet fully committed to an idea or business but want more security than what a free web host delivers.
- Paid web hosts can be worth the price. If you want a web host that offers features such as dedicated customer support and guaranteed site uptime, a paid web host is a good investment.
What features and factors should I consider?
Assess which of the following matter most to the health of your small business's website.
- Site speed: Fast sites make for happy users and better conversions. If you have a high-traffic site, or anticipate having one, you'll want to prioritize speed and choose a host that can maintain fast site speed. But be realistic about the amount of traffic your site receives. You might not need the instantaneous speed times bigger websites demand.
- Site uptime: Most web hosts will advertise site uptimes of 99.9 percent. Some web hosts are transparent in their actual site uptimes, while others might simply discount your bill in the case of unexpected downtime.
- Traffic volume: If you have less than 50,000 visitors a month, standard shared hosting should be fine. But if your business is larger, cloud hosting — where your site will be linked to multiple servers in case one server goes down or gets a spike in traffic — is a safer bet. If you're planning on scaling your business quickly, choose a web host that will be able to accommodate large traffic volumes.
- Migration: If you have an existing website, look for web hosts that will facilitate the easy migration of your site to their platform. You'll save yourself lots of hassle — and potential lost business.
- Customer support: Is customer support offered 24/7? Can it be done online, or will you need to call a service representative? Many web hosts offer trial periods. Take advantage of this time to test their customer support.
- Price: Don't choose a web host only because of its price or discounts. Make sure that whatever host you choose will provide you with the services your website requires while matching your budget.
The bottom line
As with all small business decisions, decide what you need and what you can afford. When it comes to choosing a web host, thorough research of web hosts will ultimately pay off.