Best Webhosting for Small Businesses
You might have your website programmed to perfection and tweaked it until the last bug was fixed, but right at the end of the tunnel, another hurdle awaits you. The absolute nightmare for anybody who has begun wetting his feet into the “World Wide Web”; yes folks, webhosting. When it comes to choosing which webhost to work with, it is wise to take the time to research on the options available because there are tons of them and it cannot be simply guessed that which one’s the best webhosting for small businesses.
Choosing a good webhost can make the management and maintenance of your website a breeze, but if you are unfortunate to get into business with an incompetent webhosting service, then you are in for some trouble.
What Exactly is a Web Host?
A web host is a group of computers configured in such a way that they store all the files, algorithms and data of your website and make it available on the internet. Whenever a person browses through your website, they are basically connecting to the server and accessing the files stored there.
So basically, without knowing which one is the best webhosting for small businesses, your website is inaccessible to anyone. This is why choosing the right webhost is a matter of such importance. The speed, security, search ranking and stability of your website, all depend heavily on the webhost you choose.
Understanding the Terminology
Other terms that you might have come across are IP and domain name. These are not to be confused with hosting. Domain name is a name that people will type in their browsers to reach your website. It’s the word or phrase you type after www. or http://. The domain name should preferably be in the same language as your content on the website and should be easy to remember. The IP address, on the other hand, is a string of numbers that your browser uses to locate your website.
As you can probably see by now, a web host is a completely different thing. When you select a web host they will assign an IP address for your website, and you can choose your preferred domain name If for some reason, you decide to change your web host then your IP address will change, but not your domain name. This way even after you change your web host, the users of your website don’t need to remember a new name or website address, the old one will still work. Only the best webhosting for small businesses will provide these options.
Choosing the Best Webhosting For Small Businesses
Now that you are convinced about the importance of choosing the right webhost for your website, you now need to know how to go about deciding which web hosting service is the best fit for your website. There are several steps you will need to follow.
Understanding Your Project and Its Requirements
Instead of blindly selecting the giants in the field of web hosting (for example GoDaddy), or choosing a service that someone mentioned or recommended, it is better to find a web host that fits YOUR requirements. This is because the big names might not specialize in the niche your website caters to, or they might not operate in that area. Meanwhile, relying on just word of mouth is also not a good idea.
I’m not implying that whoever recommended that website was trying to mislead you. All I am saying is that what worked for them might not work for you. The requirements of your site might not be the same as their requirements. So instead of opting for a one size fits all type approach, go for a web host that delivers exactly what you require and makes you feel as though they tailor made that package just for your website. For this, it is important to first understand what exactly your requirements are. Only the best webhosting for small businesses will be able to provide such a service.
Ask yourself the following questions to get a better insight into what your project is all about and what kind of a web host will you be requiring. This will not only save you a lot of frustration later on but will also be the most economical option.
- What kind of website will I create?
- What are my technical requirements?
- Will I need email support?
- How secure do I want my site to be?
- How much traffic do I expect on my website?
- How much website data will need to be stored on the servers?
- How much am I willing to spend on a web host?
- What level of customer support will I require?
Compare the Packages That Each Web Hosting Service Offers
As explained above, a web host stores your website’s files and data on its servers and makes it available on the internet for whoever wishes to access it. This concept is similar to a public library. You publish a book, but it is of no use to you catching dust in your attic. You need to make it accessible to people. One way to do that is to provide those books to a public library where a large number of people will have a chance to see and maybe even read your book.
Simple rules of probability dictate that the more books that the library has, the lesser chance your book will have of being selected by a reader. The case with websites is the same. The more websites that a server hosts, the more burden it will be under and this will affect how well your website performs. The speed, stability, uptime, and security of your website will be affected.
To get around this issue most web host services provide multiple packages. These will determine how many websites are hosted on each server, including other services. Obviously, the prices of each plan will differ too. If a server is hosting more websites than all those websites will collectively pay for the cost of managing and maintaining that server, so the cost will be less as compared to opting for a server that is hosting a lesser number of websites.
It is recommended to opt for the package plan that offers the most efficient service and features instead of selecting the one that costs the least. The best webhosting for small businesses will of course provide most of these services.
- Shared Web Hosting
In this type of web hosting, multiple websites are hosted on one server. This is the cheapest package offered by most web host services. As explained above, the higher the number of websites hosted, the lower will be the performance of each website. Heavy traffic on any one of those websites will affect your website’s stability and might cause it to crash.
This type of hosting is recommended only for those web developers who don’t have a very heavy website or if you are operating on a very limited budget. Later on, if you plan to expand your operations, you can switch to some other package.
- VPS Hosting
Just like shared web hosting, in this type of web hosting too multiple websites are hosted on one server. But in VPS Hosting, the number of websites allotted one server is less. Simply put, this way you are sharing virtual space with a lesser number of people.
Compared to shared web hosting websites hosted using this package run much more smoothly and efficiently. But of course, this package costs more than shared web hosting.
- Dedicated Hosting
This package is not only the most costly but is also the most powerful. In this type of hosting, a complete server is dedicated to your website. In other words, that server only hosts your website, not any other. This way your site can handle more traffic, run more smoothly and function more stably.
This is the best web hosting option for web developers with a heavy website or those who don’t want to compromise on the quality of performance of their website.
- WordPress Hosting
WordPress has gained a lot of popularity as a Content Management System (CMS). If you don’t want to reinvent the wheel and would rather stand on the back of giants, then this option might be worth considering. In this, your website is hosted by WordPress and they manage the backend technical details and fix any problems that arise on their end on their own.
- Reseller Accounts
This package is offered by some web hosting services. B opting for this you have the option to switch from one package to another after a fixed time period. This is a good option for people who are running a smaller operation on a limited budget initially but plan to expand eventually.
Things That Make The Best Webhosting For Small Businesses
If you have a web host or two in mind or you are totally clueless about which web host to select, either way, the first thing you need to do is come up with a list of potential web hosting services that you can get in business with. Good ways to go about compiling such a list are online search engines, asking people for referrals or checking out the opinions and reviews of other web developers on social forums both online and in the real world.
Once you have a list, you can go about shortlisting those web hosting services that seem to fit your requirements the best. Tally the services provided against your each of your requirements. Your requirements include not just the technical aspects such as bandwidth allocation and script support, but also include general aspects such as how that web host service deals with its clients.
This might sound like a lot of effort, but believe me when I say that the more effort ou put in now in selecting the right web host, the happier you will be once your website is up and running.
Web hosts and servers need to take a breather once in a while for maintenance or any number of reasons. This will result in downtime for your site. In simple words, it means that during that time your website won’t be accessible by anyone. So basically, downtime is equivalent to money lost and a decline in profits.
No web host offers a hundred percent uptime so don’t go about setting unrealistic expectations when you start hunting for a webhost. You want to select a web host that offers maximum uptime and minimum downtime.
A web host’s uptime is usually measured in ‘Nines’. For a 30-day period, here’s what you can expect from a web host.
|Uptime Promised by the Web Host||Number of ‘Nines’||Down time you will get in a 30-day period|
|99 percent||2 Nines||7 hrs.& 12 mins|
|99.9 percent||3 Nines||43 mins & 12 secs|
|99.99 percent||4 Nines||4 mins & 19 secs|
|99.999 percent||5 Nines||26 secs|
|99.9999 percent||6 Nines||3 secs|
- Allotted Bandwidth and Storage Space
The bandwidth and storage space you are provided for your website will depend heavily on the package plan you choose. The bigger or more complex your website is, the more bandwidth and storage space you will require.
In recent times, more and more web hosting services are offering unlimited bandwidth usage in all of their packages, so this point does not require as much consideration as before. But still, it is wise to double check.
If you are currently operating on a limited budget, then you can consider opting for a package that offers less bandwidth and storage and later when your website ends up profiting and you want to expand your operation then you can switch to a package plan that offers more bandwidth and storage space.
- Offered Speed
After all the time, money and energy that you have spent in developing and hosting a website, you want to see a healthy amount of traffic on it. But if your website takes ages to load, then you can’t expect people to visit it.
The speed and loading time of your website is handled by the web host and depends heavily on your selected package. In particular, websites hosted using a Dedicated Hosting plan will be significantly faster than websites hosted using a Shared Web Hosting plan.
Make sure that the web host and package plan you select include features that cut down theloading time of the website, to facilitate visitors to the site and also to improve your search engine ranking.
- Supported Scripts, Languages, and Frameworks
Another important thing to consider when selecting a web host for your website is where you want to run your website. Each location will require different scripts to be supported. For example, if you wish to run your website on WordPress then you will need a specific script and language support (for example, PHP and MySQL) to run it.
- Database Requirement
For web developers creating a static website, this will not be an issue, but if you have a dynamic website then you might need to create adatabase. You need to make sure that your shortlisted web host can offer a type f database that is compatible with your needs.
- Security of Sensitive Data
No matter what the nature of your website is, in this day and age when cyber crimes and hacking are so prevalent, ensuring the safety and security of sensitive data are of the utmost importance. The web host should provide a sophisticated security protocol to keep not only your data and information safe but also that of the people who visit your website.
This is particularly important for websites that are interactive or require personal or sensitive information from users. Examples of such websites include the websites or online portals of banks and social media websites etc.
Security features you should check for are:
- SSL Certificates
- IP Deny
- Customer Reviews
The first thing you should do is check reviews that people who have done business with these web hosts have left on online forums. Anyone with the bare minimum expertise in the field of web hosting can put up a bold website that claims to provide amazing services, but the truth might be a lot different. Everything looks good and peachy on the web host’s website, but the reviews are a great way to get to know the other side of the story. The reviews will contain the experiences of those customers and will give you an insight into how the web host functions and how cooperative their customer support is.
Keep a look out for customer reviews that talk about the discrepancy, if any, in the web host’s promised up time and actual uptime, speed and customer support offered by the web host.
- Customer Support
Customer Support might not sound like too important a deal, but in reality, it made it to this list because when it comes to web developing and hosting, there are just too many things that can and will eventually go wrong despite all your diligence and care. Unaccommodating customer support is the probably the worst thing that can happen to your website. The last thing you need when you run into some trouble on your website is an unhelpful customer support. In times like that, it is important to have the assurance that a team of competent specialists is available and willing to help fix your website related issues around the clock.
Test out the customer support before signing up an agreement with that web hosting service. You can do this by asking questions from them using any or all of the available platforms such as telephone, email, social media pages or live chat on the website etc. Take note of how responsive they are, how professionally they handle your queries and their level of expertise in the field. The image you get of them now will probably be as close to reality as you can get at this stage.
Budget is an important thing to consider. The most basic rule of any business is to run the business in such a way that you end up making a profit. That means cutting down on costs and maximizing income. Setting up a website is no different. You want to make sure you get the best services at the lowest price. But in this project, it is wise to give priority to services, as opposed to price, as web hosting is one expenditure you don’t want to cut corners on. In particular, stay away from free web hosting sites as these are likely scams, offer substandard services or require you to overload your website with advertisements.
Once you have decided which web host to use for hosting your website, it is time to choose an appropriate package. Most web hosts will offer multiple hosting packages which have already been explained above. These packages will differ in terms of the services and features included and the prices.
Peruse through the host’s website to look for a chart or a detailed description of the different packages offered and then based on the services included in each and your budget, select the package that best suits you and your project.
- Email Support
Many website developers require their email addresses that are associated with the website to be handled directly by the web host. If this is the case with you too, then you should check if the web hosting service and the package plan you are thinking of supports this feature, and how many email addresses can be added.
As this is a common demand by most web developers, most of the web hosting services offer this service for an unlimited number of email addresses. But it is still a good idea to double check.
However, if you find a web host that fulfills all of your other requirements, expect for this one, then don’t let this be a deal breaker unless you have another equally good web hosting service as an option. In such a case, opt for a dedicated service provider such as Gmail or Yahoo! to handle your emails.