Your Quick-Fire Guide to Web Hosting

Kyle Anderson

Kyle AndersonFreelance Tech Journalist

Monday, October 7, 2019

Like humans, every website needs somewhere it can call ‘home’ for it to be operational. This is exactly what a hosting service offers – providing a place where users can access the site’s files as long as they have access to the internet and appropriate permissions.

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There are good and bad hosts and what separates them are aspects like customer support, loading speeds, server quality and location, security, and features just to name a few.

Here, we share a few tips to help you choose a suitable hosting provider that helps you achieve your business goals.

Physical servers

For the majority of small businesses, the quality and location of the server used by their hosting service don’t matter much. However, as your business expands and demands more space and safety for your business critical files, questions on the state of the servers start arising.

To avoid the hassles that come with transferring sites to new hosts, consider working with a provider that uses quality and highly secure servers from the onset.

Also, in cases where there exist regulations on where your business data should be stored, you might want to use a host with a server in that country or region.

Content delivery network (CDN)

CDNs are a set of distributed servers that web hosts use to automatically deliver web pages based on location. Having servers close to the target users helps to speed up content delivery and this is exactly what CDNs help with.

The majority of modern hosts support or provide CDNs as part of their packages – sometimes this is even free. In addition to improving load speeds for sites that attract global audiences, CDNs also help in blocking spammers and reducing bandwidth consumption.

Load speeds and uptime

There are few aspects that have a big impact on how much revenue your site can make, but if you get your loading speeds and uptime wrong, this could be costly. Statistics have shown that websites that take more than three seconds to load risk losing up to half of their expected traffic.

While load speeds are determined by numerous factors like the size of the page, image optimization, and the types of fonts used, the quality of hosting probably plays the biggest role. Your web host is also responsible for keeping your site live which means every time it experiences a hitch, your website is likely to go down, thereby inconveniencing visitors looking to access it. For this reason, be sure to work with only those providers that guarantee near-perfect uptime rates – ideally 99.9% and over.

Operating system (OS)

Servers also run on popular operating systems including Linux, Mac OS, and Windows. The choice of OS helps to determine the apps and software you can use on your site. It also defines the services that your host supports including email, database management, and file storage among others.

With this in mind, it pays to inquire about the type of OS your preferred host supports and whether the tools you wish to use on your website are compatible with it. For example, if you’d like to use cPanel to manage your files, you’ll have to use a host with Linux servers. Also, Windows servers tend to be significantly pricier than their Linux counterparts and may therefore not be suitable if you’re striving to keep costs low.

Features and add-ons

Apart from the major features like servers, pricing, and customer support, there are many other minor but useful add-ons you should look for in a host. For example, bandwidth and RAM are two incredibly important features you need to consider, particularly if your site attracts a substantial amount of traffic. A deficit in any of these two will lead to a site breakdown whenever there’s a huge traffic surge that requires more resources than those allocated to you by your host.

Another feature you might want to take note of is email. Does your host offer free or paid email packages? Are the set data limits for each email account enough for your business needs? Take all these into consideration when choosing a good web host for your online business.

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