If you intend on setting up a website, then next to a domain name you will also need to have a server to host your website on. Doing a simple Google search will reveal that there are literally thousands of different web hosts offering all sorts of hosting services and for a variety of different prices.
Now that you are totally bewildered by the vast amount of choice, what should you do next? It might be tempting to randomly opt for web hosting services from any old company, but as with any business there are going to be firms that are good – and bad – at what they do.
What you need to be aiming for is a company that you can rely on to host your website which won’t cause you any problems, such as having to deal with security vulnerabilities or long periods of downtime due to unreliable server equipment or network connections.
And when you have a question about your website hosting, you want to be able to feel confident that whoever you email or talk to on the telephone will be able to answer your queries as professionally and efficiently as possible.
You might be thinking that this could be a tall order for companies to fulfil especially with British firms’ track record of providing rubbish customer service, but believe it or not in a country where poor customer service levels are commonplace it is actually possible to find a decent web host!
So on that note, here are some questions that you should be asking potential service providers before you sign up and set up your websites on their servers!
Physical Server Location
The first question you should ask is where your server is going to be physically located. You might not think that this matters much, after all servers around the world are connected to the Internet in some way, right?
But the problem is, if your website is physically hosted in some far-flung corner of the globe, and most of your visitors come from the United Kingdom, for example, access times will be extremely slow and this can affect things like bounce rates and other SEO (search engine optimisation) topics that webmasters employ to get people visiting their websites!
Web hosts will often have a number of features that their customers can take advantage of, such as cPanel access which enables them to tweak all sorts of advanced hosting aspects such as database management, domain management, email mailbox setups and more.
If you are planning on dealing with sensitive information from your website visitors such as personal details, you will also need to install an SSL certificate on your web host so that any information that is sent over the Internet to your web host is encrypted.
Some web hosts do not allow their customers to install their own SSL certificates and instead charge a premium for ones that they supply instead; you should ensure that your host gives you the freedom to buy and install your own SSL certificates.
One thing that affects many customers of web hosts is when those hosts advertise unlimited disk space or bandwidth, but as soon as you host a high-traffic site with them you start getting hammered with out-of-quota costs or your hosting is temporarily suspended!
You should find out from a web host what disk space and bandwidth they guarantee you; computers do not have a limitless amount of resources, and hosts often say things are unlimited so that they can oversell (a bit like what airlines do to get planes full of passengers).