If you are either building a site or looking to improve your current site’s performance and efficiency, finding the best web hosting company is an essential part of the process. Your hosting is the place where your site is housed and can be one of the most crucial elements of your online presence. The web hosting that you choose can have a huge impact on keeping your site secure as well as the amount of uptime it provides and the speed with which it operates.
There are literally thousands of web hosts out there that differ in countless ways about what they offer. Some are catered to specific niches, like online shopping or portfolios, while others are really indistinguishable from one another.
The goal is to sign up with a hosting company that is not only a secure place for your site but is financially solid as well. The last thing you want to do is have to switch providers in a hurry because the company you signed up with is not financially solvent. And, of course, you want a provider that can answer all your technical questions and resolve any problems you might encounter.
If this all sounds somewhat familiar, chances are you’re knee-deep in the search for a web hosting provider. Read on and learn more about a few things to keep in mind during this crucial process.
1. Properly Assess Performance
The web hosting company that you might be considering for your website needs to be able to perform efficiently. Few things are more important than having a site that has a good uptime reputation and adequate speed for users who want to navigate seamlessly from page to page and get a complete understanding of what you are offering.
If a user has an unpleasant experience on your site because they find it to be slow, or even offline too frequently, that user will not return. Think of it as a restaurant–once you’ve had a bad meal, the chances of you returning are slim. As the owner of the site, you don’t want to be subjected to that level of stress and frustration. Least of all, you do not want to lose visitors, especially if your site has the potential to generate income. The best way to find out about the speed and the uptime is to research online reviews by customers who are happy with the metrics they’re being provided, as well as visiting sites that are hosted by these providers.
The speed of the site or how long it takes to load can depend on a number of factors. Among them are the host’s software and the users’ distance from the hosting servers. Be mindful of these factors when looking at a site’s performance.
Third-party providers can also help you decipher the uptime of the different providers. Make sure to look at any outside, non-partisan sources to see how the site performs. If they get multiple positive uptime and performance marks, chances are you’re on the right track.
2. Know What Security Features Are Included
Vulnerable sites can be hacked easily, leaving your visitors at the mercy of bad actors. If your website infects users with malware, your visitors will drop and you risk being quarantined by Google, rendering your site pretty much useless. At a minimum, a hosting provider should give you essential tools to ensure the security of your site and every one of your visitors. In the end, it’s your name that’s out there, not your hosting provider’s, so any trouble your website causes will reflect poorly on you.
Here are some key points to keep in mind when considering a provider’s security features:
- Any quality provider will have an SSL Certification.
- Malware scans are essential to keep your site monitored at all times.
- If you have an email associated with your site, an anti-spam monitoring system should be in place.
- An automatic monthly backup is also an important feature.
- Having regular website application scans will keep your site secure.
3. Make Sure Customer Service and Technical Support Fill Your Needs
Customer service and technical support are extremely important factors to have in mind when choosing your hosting company. Your site can go down at any time of the day for a variety of reasons. You need a hosting company by your side that can respond immediately should any problem arise.
The best way to solve this issue is to get in touch with a hosting company’s technical support team. Many tech support personnel will be available 24/7 or have a live chat option to help you figure out why the site is down or answer any other technical questions.
While not all companies provide around-the-clock service, at the very least you should be able to fill out a form that will receive a prompt reply.
Then there’s the human aspect. You’ll want to look for a company who’s customer service personnel offer quality support when you need it most. Technical support that’s also friendly, knowledgeable and helpful is a plus. When you’re going through a bad time dealing with your website and perhaps some unhappy customers, having people on the other end who can empathize with your situation will go a long way.
4. Look Into Their Reputation
The reputation of any company is a crucial point that needs to be carefully considered. When it comes to hosting companies, in particular, their reputation can be very telling in regard to the strength and reliability of the organization.
The best way to find out how solid is a company is through customer reviews. Are the customers who use their hosting happy with the service? Do they have more positive reviews than negative ones? Look at their profiles across different social media platforms and see how real users react to their site practices and performance. Of course, every web hosting company will have unhappy customers, so take everything you read with a grain of salt. Surely, you can wade through all the noise to find some valuable information to help you make the right decision.
The Better Business Bureau, a non-profit organization, is always a great resource available to the public that wants to look into a company. If you see many complaints filed against an organization, perhaps it’s a good idea to step back and reconsider. Dig around and see how the web hosting company you’re researching compares to other providers. Finding the best web hosting companies through honest reviews can be very valuable in assessing an organization’s reputation.
5. Read Pricing Fine Print
Pricing is not always an easy point to assess where hosting companies are concerned. Mainly because there is no shortage of services they may offer, so there’s more to consider before signing up. Essentially, it all depends on your website’s particular needs. If you don’t need custom domains or email addresses, then consider a plan that doesn’t include those things. Sticking to what you need might result in a leaner price.
The better priced hosting providers usually offer a subscription model that will allow you to save money if you pay an annual fee in advance versus a monthly one. Look at the renewal pricing as well as the different free services that should be included in a basic plan. For instance, the hosting should provide you with an SSL certificate as well as malware scans and other protective security measures at a minimal add-on price. If this isn’t the case, consider another company.
Ask the provider what their renewal policy is and how much the pricing increases after a year. Most companies will renew your hosting at the same price or will at least give you a 30-day notice for a minimal increase. Always read the fine print to be fully aware of what you’re paying for.
Most companies will give you a 30 to a 90-day free trial period so you can test the website, speed, and uptime. This should be plenty of time to try out the hosting and see if it can satisfy your business’ needs while helping it grow. Make sure to read the company’s cancellation policy and ask questions if something is not entirely clear. Ideally, if you decide not to continue with the service at the end of the trial, you should be able to get a full refund of any charges that may have been incurred.
Of course, there are many other factors that will help determine if the web hosting that you are considering is up to par. Shared hosting, VPS hosting or even cloud hosting are all important aspects that might play a role in the decision you ultimately make.
However, with a little time and research, you can find a solid web hosting provider that will suit your specific site, budget, and needs. Your website should serve as a tool to lift your business up, not weigh it down. With the best web hosting on your side, the performance and security to keep your site operating securely will allow you to focus solely on acquiring new clients and growing your business.
About The Author: Lisa Fimberg is a freelance writer for Consumers Advocate.org, a site that provides unbiased reviews that help consumers make well-informed decisions.
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