You’ve been spending weeks, maybe months, getting your new website just the way you want and you can’t wait to show it to the world. But have you considered where you’re going to host it? Every website is really just a collection of files but in order for people to be able to access them, they need to live on a web server and that’s where the web host comes in.

Choosing a web host can be daunting and tricky considering the large number of providers and hosting plans that are available. Each company promises the best service but how will you really know what’s right for you and your business? Should you go with the cheapest? Does bigger mean better? What’s a VPS?

To help you make that important decision, we’ve put together some things you need to consider when choosing a web host.

What type of hosting do you need?

You might think hosting is hosting but did you know there are actually three main categories of hosting plans: shared servers, virtual private servers (VPS), and a dedicated server. Knowing which is the right option for your business is one of the first steps.

Shared server hosting is the most common plan offered and always the cheapest. With this plan your website sits on the same server as many other websites. The sites all share resources like RAM, which make it cheaper to provide. The downside is that those other sites can affect your own. If one site on the server gets hacked or become under attack it can bring all the other sites on the server to a halt.

Virtual private servers (VPS) is the next level of web hosting. Your site will still be hosted on a shared server with other sites but it will be walled off with more resources so that others can’t affect it. You’ll also be given server admin tools to manage your account.

Finally, a dedicated server is a server all to yourself. You won’t be sharing the physical box with any other sites. All of the server’s resources are at your disposal. This, of course, is the most expensive option.

How reliable is the host?

It’s not good having a website if your web host servers are going to crash or become overloaded and useless so you want to find a web host with a good reputation for uptime. If you rely on your website for leads and sales, then you can’t afford to lose out on your host’s downtime. Don’t just rely on their claims on their own sites, either. Do a little Googling to see if you find any trends of complaints.

How fast are their servers?

For Google to like your website, it needs to load fast. Your web host can have a lot to do with how fast visitors can load your site. The same site loaded on two different hosts could potentially have drastically different load times. Unfortunately, there’s no real way to run this kind of side by side test without signing up for accounts for multiple hosts. Instead you can look up studies others have done of popular hosts and see how the one you’re considering ranks.

Do they offer backups and security?

We all know that, despite good practices and habits, bad things can happen to a website. Maybe a WordPress plugin in need up updating allowed a hacker to get in to your site. Maybe you accidently deleted an entire folder. Whatever it is, it’s good to know your web host’s backup and security policy. What are they doing to keep your data safe? What’s their responsibility and what’s yours? Do they keep their own backups of your site in case something goes wrong or is that your job? Will they help you restore it if necessary? Are there charges? These are all things you want to consider when choosing a web host.

What’s the price?

As with many things, cheaper isn’t always better. Don’t make your web hosting decisions based solely on price. You may be able to find free hosting but will there be advertising? Alternatively, you could shell out for the Rolls Royce of web hosting packages but do you really need it if you only have a brochure website that gets a few hundred visitors a month? Weigh the features you know you need, the amount of traffic you expect, the host’s reputation along with the price to find your happy place.

What’s in the fine print?

Before you sign on the dotted line, be sure to read the fine print. For instance, many hosts will offer promotional prices to get you in the door and then raise the rates once you’re a year in. Did you get a domain name bundled with your hosting? What happens to your domain if you want to move your hosting next year? If they experience downtime will you be entitled to any type of refund? Careful reading will help you avoid hidden charges and surprises.

How’s their customer service?

If you need help with your website, what kind of customer service does your web host provide? Can you get a human on the telephone or can you only submit support tickets through their website? If they have phone support, is a toll free number? Do they have live chat? How about support through email? Is support 24/7 or is it only during business hours in their timezone?

These are all important things to consider when evaluating a company to host your business website. Follow our guide and get just what you need to get your website off on the right foot.

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