When you set up a new website for your small business, there are a number of factors that you will need to consider and one factor that is often overlooked in terms of importance, is which web host to use. However, the impact of choosing the wrong web host can have serious repercussions for your business, so it is important to spend time to research and decide which host is right for your business.
What is a web host?
If this is the first time you have set up a business website, you may not be familiar with the role of the web host. A web host provider is a company that provides a service for website files to get hosted on their server. There are many different web host companies available to choose from and various types of hosting types to choose from.
Types of web hosting options
The main types of hosting are:
- Cloud hosting
- Shared hosting
- Virtual private server hosting
- Dedicated server hosting
- Managed hosting
Choosing the type of hosting you require will depend on what you will be using your website for and the budget you have to spend. If you just want a basic website so that potential customers can find your services and contact details online, you don’t need the more expensive hosting options such as a dedicated server just for your business.
Most small businesses will opt for shared hosting, or managed hosting. With managed hosting, the host provider will take care of most of the technical aspects such as hardware maintenance and the overall management of the server.
Important considerations for choosing your web host
The main priorities you should be thinking about when choosing your host include the performance levels provided by a host, as this could hugely impact your website. If your chosen host is regularly having downtime for maintenance, this affects the availability of your website and you could lose customers, so you should be looking for hosts that offer high levels of uptime.
Another important factor regarding which host to use is whether they will support scalability if your startup business grows and you require more server space and additional features. Cloud hosting is generally the better option for companies that are rapidly growing.
Sometimes you don’t find out how good or bad a host’s customer support is until you really need their help. If there is an issue with your website that you require assistance with, you will find it much easier to deal with a company with a very high level of customer support. Checking review websites to see the customer service ratings will help to avoid choosing a company that is bad at customer service.
If you are based in the UK and you choose a US based host, you might find that you struggle to get hold of customer support at certain times, or you may have to wait in long queues to speak to an adviser due to the time difference. This is why a lot of UK businesses prefer to use companies that provide web hosting in the UK, as getting support can be a lot easier.
Cost and different packages
If you are a small business, you probably don’t want to spend a lot of money on your web hosting and you are looking for a cost-effective option. Most hosting companies offer a selection of different packages to suit different business sizes and their website requirements. For a small business that only requires one hosted website and up to around 50GB storage, the more basic packages will usually be sufficient for what you need.
You should also check that you will have the option to scale up your web hosting requirements if your business grows, otherwise you could have to start from the beginning with a new website and host.
A very important aspect of a website is the security and with cyber crime and hacking incidents increasing significantly in recent years, having a SSL certificate and spam protection are both highly recommended. If you are taking card payments and other sensitive details via your website, choosing a host that offers a superior level of security is crucial.
These are the main considerations that should influence your choice of web host but all businesses have their own requirements, so it is important to choose the hosting option that best suits your specific business needs.