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What to look for in a good Web Hosting provider

Want to know some things to look for in a good web hosting provider? Here are 5 things that we would be wise to consider.

1. Reliability

Why is reliability on top of the list? Because when your website has a significant amount of downtime, then there may be a significant number of visitors that will encounter a broken link. The result may be that, you will most likely never have them visit your website again!

Make sure that the web host that you choose has 99.99% (or more) uptime. Imagine you were in a taxi and there was an 80% chance that (all other things being equal) you would actually arrive at your destination without the taxi breaking down and you missing a client meeting. Well it’s the same thing (almost) with your website. You don’t want 80% uptime because that would mean missing 20% of your client meetings. That’s not a great idea.

2. Unmetered Bandwidth

Right, unmetered bandwidth is the second thing that we think you should be looking at very closely in a good web hosting provider. What does “unmetered bandwidth” mean? What does the term “bandwidth” even mean?

Well, imagine that you are very thirsty. Someone gives you a drink and hands you a straw that is very tiny. No matter how hard you suck on that straw, only a limited amount of of liquid comes out, right?

This illustration can also apply to this thing called bandwidth. Bandwidth is the amount of data that a server can transfer at any given time. When you measure data, you do it in bytes, megabytes, gigabytes, terrabytes etc. When you measure time you do it in seconds. So how much data can your web server transfer per second? To go back to our illustration, how much liquid is coming through the straw every second? The answer to this question will determine the speed at which your site visitor will be able to see what you have to offer on your painstakingly designed website.

Here is the crux of the matter – the “unmetered” bit. Some web hosting companies will reduce the bandwidth avalable to your website depending on the hosting account that you have. A cheap hosting account will usually give you slower download speed relative to the more expensive hosting accounts.

For an ecommerce website, it may be worthwhile getting a slightly more deluxe hosting account so that your visitors are not put off by the speed of your website and depart never to return.

3. Free Backups with self restore

Everyone knows the importance of a backup, right? Don’t worry if you don’t, I’ll explain it to you.

Website files and databases sit on your hosting server. No software is 100% bulletproof and your software may stop working the way you intended it to.

This could be for various reasons. For example, the server may develop an issue. While this is less and less likely as disks improve and have fewer moving parts, servers do still break down.

Your hosting provider handles server breakdowns by means of internal failover policies. Your provider often holds the files on mirrored disks. When one disk fails, the files failover to another disk.

There may be a failure of a whole array of disks on rare occasions. You should check that your web host stores backups offsite in case you need to restore in this disaster scenario.

So with that detour out of the way, let’s get to the point of free backups. We like to look for a good web hosting provider that won’t charge you extra for backups and that allows you to restore your backups yourself, without the need to ask their support team for assistance (which could be a lengthy process).

We find that this gives us more flexibility allowing us to mitigate any unplanned changes to site configuration and software changes (plugins etc) that cause a problem with the website. The flexibility this offers is that we may choose to restore to a recent backup version of the website to reset the website and bypass the issue

4. Support

Support is a key provision of a good web hosting provider. You need support from your web host that is:

  • Helpful
  • Competent
  • Prompt to respond
  • Available via telephone, chat or email
  • Available 24/7/365

An issue will arise without warning and can sometimes be a showstopper. There is nothing worse for a website owner than to see error messages suddenly appearing on the website.

Issues come up for variety of reasons. However, these may not all end up being related to the hosting account. Web Hosting support is usually the first line of support for many small business website owners. In this situation, a support person that renders valuable assistance in a time of need creates loyalty with the clients.

Conversely, unhelpful support in a time of need is a key reason why many small business website owners change provider.

5. Security

Your website is constantly under attack. This is because, unfortunately there are malevolent players out in the world who love nothing more that compromising your website to inject malicious code which will infect users who visit your website. Once compromised, a website can be a rich source of victims for these bad intentioned individuals.

A key line of defence againt these attacks is a good web host. A good web host is constantly on the look out for emerging threats and software exploits and maintains a solid firewall including writing smart firewall rules to protect their servers and sites from hacks and breaches.

Look out for reports of web hosts that have had their systems compromised. However, web hosts become more vigilant after having been stung by an attack, and may actually become the most secure web hosts.

Conclusion

These are five things to consider when you are choosing a web host for your website. Please comment below if you agree or to contribute to the discussion. Thanks for reading!

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