Many organizations spend a large portion of their budget on website design and then neglect the hosting. Given all the effort to drive customers to a website, it’s essential that the site is fast, responsive and available because you have one opportunity to convert the visitor.
We work with a variety of companies that offer VPS, dedicated servers and cloud solutions, and can help you determine a hosting solutions based upon your historic traffic patterns and site content. For managed customers, this option will be part of any proposal for website design or SEO projects.
Top 10 features you need in a webhost
Finding reliable web hosting companies can take time, and the ones we have used and stayed with tend to offer the following features:
- 24-hour support: the web is a 24/7 marketplace and websites can have issues at any time of the day. When a server crashes at 3am, it’s essential to have a phone number that will be answered immediately by someone with deep technical knowledge. It pays to place a few test calls to companies before placing your site on their servers.
- Reasonable pricing: the web is awash with $5/month hosts that any company with serious approach to online marketing should avoid. These hosts operate by loading hundreds – sometimes thousands – of clients onto a single machine, and your site’s performance will be at the mercy of those other sites. In hosting, low pricing should absolutely not be a priority.
- Automatic backups: there are many things that can go wrong on websites, so it’s essential to take daily backups. All quality hosting companies offer hourly or daily back up services.
- Clear uptime guarantees: most services offer 99.9% uptime, which sounds good but in reality means your site will be unavailable for up to 87 hours a year. In some cases this may be acceptable but for a busy e-commerce site, 99.99% would be the minimum target. Increasing uptime requirements does increase cost and in some cases can complicate site deployment.
- Unlimited emails: many hosts place restrictions on the number of emails each account can send. While a restriction of 10,000 per day may be reasonable for many sites, there are many services that limit the site to 50 per day and delete the rest. Establish what the limits ahead of opening an account.
- SSL capabilites: while you make not need any secure pages initially, it’s reasonably likely that at some point you will. SSL is more complicated to set up that you might think, so selecting a company that is comfortable with SSL certificates is essential.
- Cpanel administration: this is a widely established administration tool for Linux servers that handles everything from email routing to installing popular server applications. By presenting a friendly GUI on top of otherwise complex operations, cpanel is a major time saver, and outperforms competing administration tools.
- Unlimited options: make sure your host allows unlimited databases, email accounts, sub-domains and FTP accounts. There’s no reason to limit these. Unlimited bandwidth and disk storage are useful options, but there is always a limitation in the fine print (for example, you may be prevented from hosting the next YouTube). Providing these restrictions are acceptable given your predicted traffic, this should not be a problem.
- Being the actual web host. There is a large industry in reselling web services and it can be difficult to determine if you are working with the host itself or a reseller. The major problem with resellers is that support issues can take longer to resolve, and sometimes the reselling company is not familiar with the technology.
- Recommendations: while not really a feature, make sure that the company hosts sites similar to yours, and find out what those customers think of their hosting. This is a good way to discover any hidden problems, such as extreme latency, server unavailability or billing issues.
One Uproar recommends…
We have had long-term relationships with each of the companies below, and have no hesitation in vouching for their reliability and support: