How can I choose which web host is best for my business?
The Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC) is an invite-only organization comprised of the world’s most promising young entrepreneurs. In partnership with Citi, YEC recently launched BusinessCollective, a free virtual mentorship program that helps millions of entrepreneurs start and grow businesses.
1. Let the Product Guide Which Host You Pick
Among other factors, choosing a web host should depend on the nature of your business and the purpose of the website. Different hosts offer varied services and features. Choose the one that best suits the needs of the product. For example, a corporate website may not need all the security features or 24/7 customer support, but a mission-critical web app generating revenues by the hour would.
2. Find Out What the Support Is Like
3. Understand Your Needs
Understanding your needs is crucial for choosing the right web hosting provider. If you are not a developer and don’t have an in-house development team, then you need something that’s managed. Don’t expect anything to be unlimited. In hosting, you really get what you pay for. If your website is a business, then treat it like one. Invest in security, performance and infrastructure.
4. Look for 24/7 Support
Too many people focus on price when picking a hosting provider. Focus more on the level of support you are going to receive. If you experience an issue in the middle of the night, is there going to be someone available to address the problem? Extended downtime could result in a major loss of revenue. Look for hosts that offer 24/7 phone support. It can be difficult communicating issues otherwise.
5. Take the Advice of a Respected Web Developer
Web developers have an inside look at what web hosting platforms have the best uptime, are the most reliable and have the best pricing structures. Find a web developer who you respect, or one who is recommended by other business owners, and ask for their opinion. Or if you’ve contracted with a professional web design agency, they’ll likely have a standard platform they use.
6. Consider a VPS or Dedicated Host
First of all, you should figure out what kind of hosting you need. If you do a significant amount of marketing online or handle payments from clients, you should consider a VPS (virtual private server) or a dedicated host, which are more secure than shared hosting. Then do some comparison shopping, read reviews and decide who offers the best value for what you need.
7. Reach Out to Websites With the Features You’re Interested in
There are a million web hosts out there and lots of advice, but the fact of the matter is one size doesn’t fit all. So, one way to approach choosing is to find sites already out there that are where you want to be, meaning they have your desired shopping cart style or video hosting, etc. Reach out to them and see what web host they are using. Rely on that advice and go from there.
8. Use AWS
Stop the search and go with Amazon Web Services. They are the undisputed leader in the market, offer the first year for free (with some restrictions) and have the most reliable and established infrastructure. I wouldn’t risk going with someone less established. Stop the search and go with AWS.
9. Find Out How They Secure and Manage the Servers
Most smaller businesses shouldn’t spend time managing and securing servers. A decent hosting company will take care of most of the heavy lifting, so you can focus on building your business. As a bonus, look out for free DDoS protection: DDoS attacks are a serious problem and one that’s likely to get worse before it gets better.
10. Research How Reliable Their Servers Are
One of the things to consider when looking for a web host is how reliable their servers are. A good tool to check a server’s reliability is Monitor Scout. There’s nothing worse than going with a web host, only to find out that their servers are often down. For e-commerce businesses, this can mean lost sales and unhappy customers.
11. Check (Non-Paid) Review Sites
There are numerous review sites (that are not paid ads) that can be used as a way to compare features, services and prices. Then you can use that as a springboard to find other places where customers have reviewed these various web hosts to get a better idea of the type of support and services they offer. This is more critical than the price, because you cannot risk having your website go down.
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