Tips On Choosing a Web Hosting Provider For Your Small Business Website

BY: ON MONDAY, OCTOBER 29, 2012

When it comes to choosing a web host, there are thousands of companies to pick from and features to take into consideration. To ensure that you choose the best for your website needs, it is important to both educate yourself on web hosting features and to know what to look for when evaluating potential hosting companies.

Because of the responsibility a hosting company has to keep a website up and running, choosing a web host is like choosing a business partner and an important first step in getting a website. As you start researching web hosting services, you will undoubtedly stumble upon certain hosting terms that you may not be familiar with. In order to make the most educated decision on a hosting plan for your website, it is important to understand these terms and how they will relate to your website.

7 Important Web Hosting Terms to Know:
  1. Disk space – Disk space, also known as web space or storage space, refers to the amount of space that is available to you on a web host’s server. All of the images, web pages, content, video and other files on your website take up disk space on a server. Depending on the web hosting company, you will be charged based on the amount of disk space your website takes up or provided with an unlimited amount.

  2. Bandwidth – Often confused with disk space, bandwidth is the amount of date visitors can download when visiting your website. The amount of bandwidth you will need can be determined by the anticipated number of website visitors, how many pages these visitors will go to on your website and the size of your website’s pages.

  3. FTP – An acronym for File Transfer Protocol, a FTP program is a quick and simple way to transfer files, especially website files, over the Internet.

  4. Content Management System – Commonly referred to as a CMS, a content management system is a software program that allows users to publish, edit and modify content on their websites. It essentially simplifies the web development process and allows users to make website changes easily by accessing a back-end interface. Some examples of a CMS include WordPress, Joomla and Drupal.

  5. Control Panel – Provided by the hosting company, a control panel is the interface that allows customers to manage multiple services. Some of these services include adding and managing email accounts, managing FTP programs, viewing the amount of disk space and bandwidth used, viewing visitor statistics and adding domain names to your account. One of the most widely-used and recognized control panels is cPanel.

  6. Server Platform – Operating server platforms are what your website is hosted on. The two main types of platforms are Windows and Unix. The latter is generally less expensive and has more features available. A Windows platform is necessary if you are using a specific scripting language that requires that particular hosting environment.

  7. Types of Hosting – The two most popular types of hosting are shared and dedicated. With shared hosting, your website essentially rents out space on a server that it shares with other websites. Because your site shares a server with others, it is the cheapest type of hosting. Shared hosting is ideal for personal and smaller business websites.

With dedicated hosting, a webmaster has full control over the hosting environment and does not share the space with other websites. Dedicated hosting is ideal for large or ecommerce websites that receive a high amount of traffic and use a lot of hosting resources.

VPS and Cloud hosting are also widely used and can be placed in between shared and dedicated as far as pricing is concerned.

As for evaluating potential web hosting companies, there are key things to look for before making a choice.  
First, you will want to assess the reliability of a web host. This includes checking for an uptime guarantee of at least 99% and quality of customer service provided. It is ideal to choose a web host that provides 24/7 customer support and is accessible by at least two different means of communication; email, live chat or phone.

Next, it is important to choose a web host that offers a money-back guarantee of at least 30 days because it signals that a web host is trustworthy and confident in the quality of their service. Also, keep in mind that the phrase “you get what you pay for” strongly applies to web hosting. Just because a web host advertises the cheapest price on the market, it doesn’t make them the best, most safe option.

Third, confirm that the web host’s data centers are located within the United States and there are proper security measures in place.

Last, research what a web host’s customers have to say about them. Reviews are one of the most trusted sources of information on the web.

By following the information above, you can make an educated, confident decision when it comes to choosing a web hosting provider for your website!

About the Author

Sarah Tharp

Sarah Tharp is the Director of Online Marketing for Brain Host, a web hosting company based in Ohio that specializes in providing affordable and professional websites. Sarah has several years of online marketing experience including social media, brand and reputation management, SEO, SEM, web analytics, email marketing, public relations and content creation.

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