Before moving on to listing the Qualities of a good web hosting company, it is essential for you to understand web hosting in general, characteristics, the types and why do you need a host.
Picking up / choosing the right web hosting service is an essential component of successful business these days. Particularly if you are to employ internet for offering your services or aim to sell products online; a reliable web hosting service is a pre-requisite. Due to the importance and sensitivity involved, a lot of businesses and internet entrepreneurs feel confused when making the final decision. Unfortunately, the information on the subject online also adds up to their confusion because each article or piece of content is tilted towards the interest of a particular service (or provider) and compromises on the consumer experience at large.
In this article, we will try to provide a comprehensive package of information to the readers, so that they don’t have to read any other content piece to seek guidance. This post will cover the following elements:
Introduction to web hosting – what is web hosting service?
Types of web hosting services
Why a quality web hosting is vital for your businesses?
What to look for when hiring a web hosting service?
How to choose the best web hosting service?
Introduction to Web Hosting – what is web hosting service?
When you have developed a website for your business, the next step is to make it accessible for the world. Web hosting is a kind of internet hosting service that allows people and organisations to host their websites and make them accessible to the world via World Wide Web. Usually these companies have data centres with mega servers (owned or leased), where they host the customers’ data and website. They offer space and connectivity to the servers located in their facilities.
In layman language, hosting service works as bridge between you and the digital world by offering you a space on the digital web. You cannot present your products, service, ideas, or sell them without having your website and content hosted on a globally connected server. There are many types of hosting services; from free to premium, let’s move ahead and study those.
Types of Web Hosting Services:
If you look at the hosting services provided by the internet hosting companies, they are a lot. We will briefly touch array of services to facilitate you make the right choice for your individual or business needs.
Free Web Hosting: The starting point of every online service is “free” or basic membership. The services offered via free web hosting plans have varying limitations and you should opt for them only when you have stringent budget to fulfil your needs. A good example of free web hosting is your free web blogs that are hosted on WordPress, Blogger and other platforms.
Shared Web Hosting: If you plan to share resources (on the server) with other websites, this type of hosting works well. However, this reduces your service features because you’re sharing with someone else.
Reseller Web Hosting: This is another (limited) web hosting facility which allows you to host the websites using a reseller account. The size may vary depending on the server type and requirements.
Virtual Dedicated Server: VPS functions on the division of server resources and provides you access to the virtual servers. You can manage and maintain servers as well.
Dedicated Hosting: Dedicated hosting offers you complete control over your content and server (though you don’t own it). You pay the rent (annual fee) and get the space/server facility and manage it by yourself. This allows faster performance and better results. If you are subscribed to self-managed dedicated hosting, you can manage your server & data security and maintenance as well.
Managed Hosting Service: As the name suggests, it is a managed hosting service where you do not have full control over servers but can manage your data using File Transfer Protocol. Note again, you do not own the server but use a server owned by the hosting company.
Collocated Web Hosting: In terms of cost and features, collocated web hosting service is the most expensive and premium type of hosting service. It is similar to the dedicated web hosting service with a slight difference. Here, the subscriber owns the collocated servers (not otherwise). They can visit the data centre and have access to their assets.
Cloud Hosting Facilities: This is probably the newest and trendy fashion these days. Since people are preferring cloud services and cloud storages due to a range of reasons, cloud hosting services have become very popular. The best thing for consumer in it is, it only incurs charges for the resources which are exactly consumed by the user. Hence, it is considered low-cost as compared to other hosting services which have a flat fee. However cloud hosting has been subject to lots of concerns over security and data privacy.
Clustered Hosting: This is ideal option if you’ve a website (in basic version) and you plan to scale it up after some time. It offers scalability and optimum resource utilisation. In addition to these, we have home server hosting, grid hosting and few others as well; however they do not carry as much weightage. You can check with your web hosting service provider and see what other facilities do they offer and which one particularly suits your business needs and budget.
Why Web Hosting Is Needed?
Web hosting service is vital for modern business as without it you cannot market your products or service, or make your website live for the global audience. You need to host your content somewhere on the servers to make it accessible for the world. So, it’s fundamental to your business particularly marketing and sales.
12 Qualities of a Good Web Hosting Company
How to Choose the Best Web Hosting Service?
A good web hosting service provider offers you a range of features. While making decision to subscribe to a hosting service, make sure it offers you a decent match of the following qualities.
The first and foremost concern should be the amount of storage your service provider offers. For most small and medium web sites, you’ll find few GB of data storage as enough. Some may offer unlimited volume with certain conditions applied. So read the details or get in touch with support representatives to get the accurate picture. Once done, go with the plan that suits your needs.
Amount of Bandwidth:
This is very tricky deal as many people confuse bandwidth with storage. Storage and bandwidth go hand in hand. Technically speaking, bandwidth is the amount of cumulative data that web hosting company will let you and visitors upload or download your visitors upload and download in a given month. Once the bandwidth limit is met, the host will charge you as per the amount of visitors or per MB consumed. Therefore you need to keep an eye on bandwidth particularly if your site hosts multimedia or allows frequent upload/download content.
Email & E-Commerce Features:
Email accounts are an integral part of the web hosting plan. Many web hosts offer multiple free email accounts for your domains. You need to pre-check as how many email accounts they’ll let you set up. Moreover, don’t forget to see their email sending/receiving interface and ability to integrate with other email programs such Gmail. Do they offer facility to receive email in your favourite client via Outlook, IMAP or just POP? For starters, number of accounts and integration with Gmail should be more important than other too much techie stuff.
Moreover if you are running an ecommerce website, make sure to confirm if the web host offers some key features. SSL certification, dedicated IP, and one-click shopping cart software installation are some example features that you will need. Ask your web developer to help you list down those required features
Number of Domains and Subdomains
If you are running a website that needs to have a blog, you might need a subdomain. Moreover, there is a big possibility that when your one site is successful you might one another one. It would be painful to have to manage a hosting account for each site you own, so make sure your web host will let you host multiple domains from a single dashboard. Before subscribing to a domain or hosting service provider, make sure if there is some limit on how many domains you can manage from a single account. The same is true for subdomains.
Database Management & Support:
There are many types of database management systems. You need to ensure that there is integration and alignment with your website and hosting company’s system. Moreover, since websites need to have a backend database, you need to ensure that your website host offers you the type of database system you’re used to it. If you don’t find this mentioned in their services’ description, rush to their customer support; call them, send them an email, or have a chat with some CSR to clarify in advance and avoid any difficulty later on.
Support for Frameworks and CMS:
There are many frameworks and content management systems for websites and blogging networks. However, not every web host supports every framework or blogging/content system. Therefore, it’s very important to check if your host offers compatibility with your preferred framework and offers one-click install facility.
Backup & Security Services:
Cybersecurity is a key component in today’s web management. Hackers, software bugs, and hard disk failures can cause data loss from the websites. Therefore you need to ensure a proper backup mechanism. In this regards, you are urged to find out a web hosting agency with a reliable backup system that keeps record of files regularly. Some have a 24 hours’ time period while others do it many times during the day. Moreover, ask if you can download some copies from the control panel.
Remember, if your website deals with users’ data like signup and private information; you need to give this element very serious thought. No compromise on security of your and people’s sensitive data.
Quality of Customer & Technical Support:
They say; “internet never sleeps”. So its particularly important for web hosting firms to provide excellent technical and customer support. Look for a service provider that offers an integrated customer support. It can be a local or toll-free phone number, live chat, social media, email or other support systems 24/7.
Another element is of technical support. Some service providers might claim to offer 24/7 customer support but such claims do not guarantee that you will receive fast and knowledgeable answers. You can crosscheck their quality of tech knowledge by asking some technical questions prior to opening up an account.
Anything that involves machinery has a probability of failure. Equipment failures, power outages or some internet blackout can result in downtime for clients’ website. If the time is greater, it requires proper compensation from the hosting company. Make sure to ask your hosting company if they have proper power, internet and supplies back up or not? Keep in mind that 99.0% uptime still allows for up to 100 minutes of downtime every week. Excellent hosting companies offer 99.999% uptime or even better than this. Find out how reliable your prospective host is.
We buy or sell things on the basis of reputation. The same applies to the internet hosting services as well. If a hosting company enjoys top-notch reputation, it probably provides excellent customer service and good user experiences with very little downtime. There are many ways to asses a company’s reputation as reliable web hosting service provider.
You can do this by doing the following:
Check background, history and achievement notes
Read authentic customer testimonials
Check out reviews on the rating websites. But dont rely on a single positive or negative review; the author might have an hidden motive.
Obtain information about web hosts from research companies, online forums, and listing websites.
Check out your social network. Ask friends to refer the best web host in the town and see if they already have some experience with them or not
Check their social media profiles. Read customer comments about them in discussions, group chats and forums.
Seek advice from offline friends and family. They can refer some reliable agency in the locality.
There are some online review and advice websites as well. You may visit Yelp, MouthShut and TrustRadius and check what are good options and what do people say about those.
Check the ranking of their website in the search. Mostly, a good company enjoys good search presence as well.
Subscription Period & Money Back Guarantee:
In most of the times, users subscribe for an annual contract with web host. They sign up and keep paying annual fee after the subscription. However, in the recent times, we’ve seen some customers to take up unreasonably long contracts. Some providers offer 5 years and longer subscription program at some discounted rates. However, don’t fall into this trap. Never signup with a web host for more than two with more than 2 years upfront unless you receive a written money back guarantee from them. This will help you to avoid any financial issue if the service turns out to be substandard as you can claim your money back if the desired standards are not met.
We have already discussed some key features that a web host will offer you or should offer you. From domains to emails, security to uptime, CMS to ecommerce management capability; all of them have been listed. However some of you might need something extra or unique that is specific to your niche. Something like forum, email list building, some news board, online store, and ecommerce setups; there are a range of features that you can avail but only if you need.
Confirm with your hosting company if they offer some add-ons or customized services or not. This can help you do business in a much smarter way.
We are sure that the above given points will help you make the right choice when it comes to choosing the right hosting company. The given 12 points are something that make or break a service experience; in fact you can call them a checklist for hiring a reliable web hosting company. However, we do not advise you to stick to only these points since the service providers and features in your country or market may be different. However, the fundamentals of web hosting will remain the same for all industries and market. You can search on the web for details about each individual point discussed in the article though basic explanation should work for anyone with slight know-how of the tech and e-commerce.
Moreover, if you think we have missed out some point or need some detailed explanation of a particular note; please use the comment box below, send us a message, or reach us on social networks; we would love to facilitate you and provide the best information we can.