In the previous blog post, we discussed how to start a blog on WordPress. In the following, we will be putting on some of most extensively searched after features of a hosting service. The main topic is how to choose a web hosting service . While making decision to subscribe to a hosting service, make sure it offers you a decent match of the following. Go with the hosting agency that offers you the following features and technical support.
Website Building Tools
Your Web host should provide the tools to help you create a great website, whether you’re an HTML guru or a total beginner. Before you settle on a host, check to ensure that the host features an integrated website builder. These days, most services include a builder that can help you create a basic Web page or a complex site with numerous pages. Modern website builders offer templates so you can create a polished, professional-looking website for your business without the need to hire a professional designer. And they feature drag-and-drop functionality so you can easily tweak your site to better reflect your brand.
Your Call: Make sure to pick the hosting service that not only supports multiple website building tools but also offers technical support for the process as well.
Easy to Manage Control Panel
You’re busy running your business, so don’t waste time hunting for options in a confusing Web interface. Great Web hosts feature an integrated control panel that serves up the most important administrative options in a single location.
A good control panel lets you control every aspect of your website, and easily locate features such as search engine optimization tools and logs. Features should be grouped into related categories so you can find what you need when you need it. Bear in mind, however, that even the most popular graphical control panels can seem overwhelming and difficult to navigate for beginners.
Your Call: Make sure to pre-configure the website panel and get the desired level of ease/support from the hosting agency.
One of your foremost concerns should be the amount of storage your service provider offers. For most small and medium web sites, you’ll find few GB of data storage as enough. Some may offer unlimited volume with certain conditions applied. So read the details or get in touch with support representatives to get the accurate picture. Once done, go with the plan that suits your needs.
Your Call: Depending up the need and business requirements, pick up a reliable hosting storage unit that could help you even when your business grows and demand for more data comes in sight. So be careful while picking up one.
Amount of Bandwidth
This is very tricky deal as many people confuse bandwidth with storage. Storage and bandwidth go hand in hand. Technically speaking, bandwidth is the amount of cumulative data that web hosting company will let you and visitors upload or download your visitors upload and download in a given month. Once the bandwidth limit is met, the host will charge you as per the amount of visitors or per MB consumed. Therefore you need to keep an eye on bandwidth particularly if your site hosts multimedia or allows frequent upload/download content.
Your Call: As noted earlier in the previous chapter, you need to find a balance when it comes to storage, processing speed, and bandwidth allotted. For business with a high traffic website, this should be the utmost concern. Go with the agency that offers customizable bandwidth facility; so that you could move in and customize the package at any point of time and scale it as per your site’s performance needs.
Email & E-Commerce Features
Email accounts are an integral part of the web hosting plan. Many web hosts offer multiple free email accounts for your domains. You need to pre-check as how many email accounts they’ll let you set up. Moreover, don’t forget to see their email sending/receiving interface and ability to integrate with other email programs such Gmail. Do they offer facility to receive email in your favourite client via Outlook, IMAP or just POP? For starters, number of accounts and integration with Gmail should be more important than other too much techie stuff. Moreover if you are running an ecommerce website, make sure to confirm if the web host offers some key features. SSL certification, dedicated IP, and one-click shopping cart software installation are some example features that you will need. Ask your web developer to help you list down those required features
Your Call: Calculate the number of email accounts you’ll need. For Organizations it’s vital to have at least one ID per resource at least. You can bargain for more, if there is a need.
Number of Domains and Subdomains
If you are running a website that needs to have a blog, you might need a subdomain. Moreover, there is a big possibility that when your one site is successful you might one another one. It would be painful to have to manage a hosting account for each site you own, so make sure your web host will let you host multiple domains from a single dashboard. Before subscribing to a domain or hosting service provider, make sure if there is some limit on how many domains you can manage from a single account. The same is true for subdomains. No matter what kind of hosting plan you choose, you’re probably wondering how many domains you can host on one account. Sometimes your host will limit you to a certain number. Often, your host will let you host ‘unlimited’ domains.
On paper, there is no limit to the number of sites a server can hold, assuming there’s enough storage space. That doesn’t mean it’s a good idea to cram hundreds of domains onto one account, though.
Your Call: Adding a domain to a hosting account is no big strain. Normally, a few extra lines are added to your server’s configuration files, a new folder is created and, most likely, a new user is created on the account. This in itself won’t use any resources.
It’s the sites that take up the resources, and this is because:
- Each new site takes up hard drive space, RAM and CPU.
- Every visit to the site consumes bandwidth to send and receive information.
- CPU and RAM use increase over time as the site becomes more popular.
- The more complicated the site, the more processing power it requires to run.
So, the simplest advice is to look at the site, not the domain you need. You may need to look at your service provider’s plan and discuss with support about your future expansion plans. If you have a plan of moving into blogging and further expansion of your website, it will be a good idea to host multiple domains on your name. To be safe at this, make sure you have a plan of the next 5 years in sight while hosting your site.
Database Management & Support
There are many types of database management systems. You need to ensure that there is integration and alignment with your website and hosting company’s system. Moreover, since websites need to have a backend database, you need to ensure that your website host offers you the type of database system you’re used to it. If you don’t find this mentioned in their services’ description, rush to their customer support; call them, send them an email, or have a chat with some CSR to clarify in advance and avoid any difficulty later on.
Your Call: Discuss your preferred management system with the hosting agency and see if they support it or not. We are sure that a hosting agency will arrange some solution for you, if they don’t have it with them already.
Support for Frameworks and CMS
There are many frameworks and content management systems for websites and blogging networks. However, not every web host supports every framework or blogging/content system. Therefore, it’s very important to check if your host offers compatibility with your preferred framework and offers one-click install facility.
Your Call: Ask your web development team to get a detailed overview about technical elements from the hosting agency. Do not let anything untouched at any cost. A little effort now will save you dozens of hours of work and depression later.
Backup & Security Services
Cybersecurity is a key component in today’s web management. Hackers, software bugs, and hard disk failures can cause data loss from the websites. Therefore you need to ensure a proper backup mechanism. In this regards, you are urged to find out a web hosting agency with a reliable backup system that keeps record of files regularly. Some have a 24 hours’ time period while others do it many times during the day. Moreover, ask if you can download some copies from the control panel.
Remember, if your website deals with users’ data like signup and private information; you need to give this element very serious thought. No compromise on security of your and people’s sensitive data.
Your Call: Though it’s believed that all hosting service providers ensure safety and security of their facility and data; however, it’s good to receive their fresh commitment to security and receive a brief overview of their security layers to satisfy you.
Every domain name has a publicly accessible record that includes the owner’s personal information such as owner name, contact number, mailing address, and domain registration as well as expiry date. It’s called a ‘Who Is’ record and lists the registrant and contacts for the domain. As required by the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), the domain owners must make these contact information available on WHOIS directories. These records are available anytime to anyone who does a simple WhoIs lookup. In other words, if someone wants to know who owns a Web site, all they to do is run a quick WHOIS search, type the domain name and voila, they have access to the Web site registration details. So, why is this a big deal? Your domain record may also be used in ways that aren’t legitimate or desirable. Since anyone can look up a WhoIs record, spammers, hackers, identity thieves and stalkers may access your personal information! Unethical companies check domain expiration dates then send official looking “renewal” notices in an attempt to get the domain owners to transfer domains to their company, or send invoices that are service solicitations for search engine submissions and other questionable services. Both email and snail mail spammers use the WhoIs databases to contact domain owners with solicitations as well.
Although web hosting and domain names are two different entities; they are highly related to each other. When selecting a web host, domain feature is one of the factors you should look into. For example if you are planning to add subdomains, a convenient setup point for your sub domains in your control panel is critical. Setting up a sub domain should be easy, instant, and within a few clicks.
Your Call: Read the privacy statement of the agency and consult with their representative how strong is their layer of privacy. Remember any compromise on this can lead to corporate loss and may cause complications later on.
Quality of Customer & Technical Support
They say; “internet never sleeps”. So it’s particularly important for web hosting firms to provide excellent technical and customer support. Look for a service provider that offers an integrated customer support. It can be a local or toll-free phone number, live chat, social media, email or other support systems 24/7. Another element is of technical support. Some service providers might claim to offer 24/7 customer support but such claims do not guarantee that you will receive fast and knowledgeable answers. You can crosscheck their quality of tech knowledge by asking some technical questions prior to opening up an account.
Your Call: You will get an idea of their service quality over the period of time; however, you can certainly test their technical knowledge and ways.
Anything that involves machinery has a probability of failure. Equipment failures, power outages or some internet blackout can result in downtime for clients’ website. If the time is greater, it requires proper compensation from the hosting company. Make sure to ask your hosting company if they have proper power, internet and supplies back up or not? Keep in mind that 99.0% uptime still allows for up to 100 minutes of downtime every week. Excellent hosting companies offer 99.999% uptime or even better than this. Find out how reliable your prospective host is.
Your Call: Uptime is the single biggest factor that can make or break things. If your hosting agency can’t ensure maximum uptime, it is not a company to get along with. In this regards, consult their past customers too, and get to know their experience.
We buy or sell things on the basis of reputation. The same applies to the internet hosting services as well. If a hosting company enjoys top-notch reputation, it probably provides excellent customer service and good user experiences with very little downtime. There are many ways to asses a company’s reputation as reliable web hosting service provider.
Your Call: Make sure you check their market and digital reputation. It can be determined by doing the following: – Check background, history and achievement notes
- Read authentic customer testimonials
- Check out reviews on the rating websites. But don’t rely on a single positive or negative review; the author might have an hidden motive – Obtain information about web hosts from research companies, online forums, and listing websites.
- Check out your social network. Ask friends to refer the best web host in the town and see if they already have some experience with them or not
- Check their social media profiles. Read customer comments about them in discussions, group chats and forums
- Seek advice from offline friends and family. They can refer some reliable agency in the locality.
- There are some online review and advice websites as well. You may visit TrustDale or TrustRadius and check what are good options and what do people say about those.
- Check the ranking of their website in the search. Mostly, a good company enjoys good search presence as well.
Subscription Period & Money Back Guarantee
In most of the times, users subscribe for an annual contract with web host. They sign up and keep paying annual fee after the subscription. However, in the recent times, we’ve seen some customers to take up unreasonably long contracts. Some providers offer 5 years and longer subscription program at some discounted rates. However, don’t fall into this trap. Never signup with a web host for more than two with more than 2 years upfront unless you receive a written money back guarantee from them. This will help you to avoid any financial issue if the service turns out to be substandard as you can claim your money back if the desired standards are not met.
We have already discussed some key features that a web host will offer you or should offer you. From domains to emails, security to uptime, CMS to ecommerce management capability; all of them have been listed. However some of you might need something extra or unique that is specific to your niche. Some of additional features are the following.
- Email Accounts: Most of the hosting companies provide sufficient number of e-mail accounts. Normally a webmaster requires 10-20 e-mail boxes. Check to see the number of e-mail accounts offered. Some companies offer unlimited email accounts as well.
- MY SQL Database: You may require some my SQL databases in your hosting account. Make sure your web hosting provider offer sufficient number of this utility.
- FTB Accounts: Though some hosting companies offer unlimited FTP account while others restrict the number to a certain level. This feature needs to be a checked according to your requirements.
- Ad-on’s and Apps: Check that what add-ons and applications are offered by your web hosting provider. Availability of more free applications includes blogging software, forum software, image galleries, shopping carts and many others.
- Web Templates & Site Builders: Good web hosting companies offer their clients free website templates and site builder’s applications. This helps you to develop your own site easily and in very less time. You may save some extra money by developing your website yourself.
These are some of the most important features which you should look in your web hosting provider. Whatever you are a starter or a seasoned webmaster you need to think in long term before choosing a web hosting company. Make sure that it meets all your requirements before deciding to host your site. Confirm with your hosting company if they offer some add-ons or customized services or not. This can help you do business in a much smarter way.