There are many hosting companies that you can choose from to host your websites, from large enterprises such as BT to SME's and even hosting your website on your local computer. You as a business and website owner need to decide which is the best solution for your website, at the end of the day you want the best for your business, as its your bread and butter, and sometimes it may also mean paying a bit more for a better service.
What is hosting
Hosting is the space on a server which you can rent, that will store your website files, which will then be accessible on the World Wide Web (www). You can rent or purchase different types of servers, such as Windows Server or a Linux Server. You would choose the type of server depending on what time of website you are going to store on the server.
What to look for in a hosting company.
What should one look for in hosting companies, as sometimes you can get a bit confused with all the features that are available for offer. Below are some of the main features and points you should look for in a hosting company.
Space: Probably the most common and obvious one to look for is to see how much web space they are offering you. Is the space going to be sufficient for what you are looking to do with your website, or is it worth paying slightly more and getting more space. Many Hosting companies also offer unlimited hosting space, also ensure that you read the small print, is there a fair usage policy or are they actually offering unlimited hosting space.
Bandwidth: Many hosting companies don't make this clear, but this is something that goes hand in hand with the hosting space. Bandwidth is the amount of data your server allows your visitors to download and upload from your website. As every time someone goes to your website it bites into your bandwidth (a very small amount) but still counts. So if you have a busy website with allot of traffic, before you know it, your bandwidth is all finished, and your hosting company has either disabled your website, or are charging you for extra bandwidth.
A website that also has video streaming and images, will also take up a lot of bandwidth, if you are looking to build a website of such kind, it might be better for you to have your own dedicated server. A basic static brochure site with couple of pages, a standard hosting package would be sufficient. Its always a good idea to also check the bandwidth that your hosting company is offering you with your package, so that you do not get any unexpected surprises, when your bandwidth is all used up.
Email Services: One of the services you would be using on a day-to-day biases. Having a domain and a hosting package with a company, you would normally expect that it also include emails. Check to see what type of email features they offer (POP, IMAP, Exchange), along with how much space they give you per inbox. Some hosting companies don't include emails in their packages, and charge extra per email, so it's best to check how many email inboxes are included, along with how much control you have over your emails. You being a business owner, you want to add and disable emails at your figure tips, it's a good feature to have within your hosting control panel.
Database: Many websites run on databases, all CMS platforms, Forums, and web portals, require some sort of database. Ensure if you are having a website of such nature that your hosting company offers database access such as MySQL. Some website may also require more then one database. If you’re unsure about what database and how many is included, double-checked with the provider before committing to anything.
Everyone needs help at times, sometimes things don’t go to plan, or they stop working. In such cases whom do you contact, if it is something to do with the server, you will need be in touch with your hosting company. Some hosting companies offer free support via a free telephone number, and some just offer an online support via a ticketing system. Make sure that you’re familiar with the support process, and your happy with it.
Before making the final choice, I would advise you to read some reviews and feedbacks on that hosting company, to see how reliable the are, do they offer exactly what they state, and how reliable are the servers, the last thing you want is that your website keeps going down due to server problems, ask someone that you know who has bought the service of them, or search for them online. You will always find someone will have something to say about the company whether it’s good or bad. This will help you to understand from a customer’s point of view of what service and experience they are having with the company.
Going online, security is also a big concern, especially if you would be hosting an e-commerce or a portal on the server. Find out the security measure that the hosting company has in place to protect the servers from being hacked or corrupted. Also ensure that they backup on regular bases, and also offer you the option of backing up your files on the server from your control panel.
Extensions & Modules
Many hosting companies now offer one click installations for open source platforms, such as Joomla, Magneto, Wordpress…etc. Which saves you the hassle of manually installing such platforms, it’s a good plus point to have, and to save you time, and also ensure that the installation is done correctly. Find out what extensions they have and also what extensions can your hosting company support. If your building a website which requires a certain script or languages which your hosting company does not support, your website will not work.
These are some of the main factors to consider when choosing a hosting company, the main thing is that you should be comfortable and satisfied with the service they have in place, as that’s where you would be storing your valuable website files.