Your website is the first impression people are going to have of your business, and for that reason it’s absolutely essential that you do a good job of it. Aside from designing a beautiful layout and ensuring your content is up to scratch, there’s a bigger task at hand… deciding on the right kind of web hosting.
Web hosting goes on behind the scenes but actually has a huge impact; it dictates how much traffic your website is going to be able to handle, as well as other important things such as storage and bandwidth. So, here’s everything you need to know about hosting for your small business…
What does web hosting mean?
Most of the time, ‘web hosting’ is the term that refers tothe company that is renting out their servers to store your website on. That’s why they’re called a ‘host’. You need to pay for this ‘host’, as it’s the host that provides internet connectivity so that other computers can access the files that make up your website.
What are the four main types of web hosting and which is the right choice for me?
There are lots of types of web hosting, but the core ones are VPS, shared, dedicated and cloud hosting.
We won’t go in to great detail over what each of these is, but suffice to say that dedicated servers are the best option if you want maximum control over the server your website is hosted on as you get to ‘exclusively’ rent the entire server.
However, dedicated servers are expensive and they’re usually something only bought by big businesses that can afford to pay for such a high level of control and performance.
On the other hand, a shared server places your website on the same server as many other sites (which could be as few as tens, or as many as thousands). Small businesses tend to find that a shared server is usually more than adequate as traffic is low to moderate. Consider shared servers as the ‘entry level’ hosting option: it’s likely to suit your technical needs as a small business, and it’s often the cheapest option too.
A VPS server (a virtual private server) divides one physical server into several virtual servers. It’s a bit like a cross between a dedicated and a private server, so it acts as an intermediate level server – the perfect option later down the line if your website needs scaling up as your business grows.
Finally, cloud servers are where a team of servers (known as a ‘cloud’) work together to host a group of websites. It means that multiple computers are working together, which means that you’ll be able to get ‘unlimited’ bandwidth and storage to accommodate for unexpected spikes in traffic or content. However, if you go down this route with your small business you’d be wise to check the small print: unlimited doesn’t always mean unlimited, and it will cost more than using a shared server.
So, what should a small business be looking for in a web host?
Choose the right host for you by considering things like scalability, security, reputation and support. It’s important that you can easily change your website and your hosting package if your business changes, so make sure that your web host is able to offer you a flexible deal.
Your host should also have a good reputation (so be sure to check out some reviews by their customers), and be able to offer you security. There are often ‘attacks’ on websites, so it’s important that your server is secure enough to prevent people from hacking into your network to steal data. Consider talking to a company like Privacy Online to help you manage the risk of attacks by hackers if you’re serious about the safety of your small business.
Finally, make sure that your web host can offer you the support you need; if your website suddenly stops working or you’re expecting to see a spike in your traffic, you need to know that there’s someone knowledgeable to help you deal with it on the other end of the phone.