Small Business Tips: Things to Consider Before Signing up for Web Hosting Services

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It should come as no surprise that in today’s market, a reliable web hosting service is a prerequisite for running an effective business operation. Your website essentially acts as an extension of your business and it’s often the first point of contact between you and your customers. Therefore, a functional and attractive website will help both attract and retain consumers and help develop a lasting connection over the long run.

Table of contents:

  1. The Basics
  2. Uptime
  3. Bandwidth
  4. Domain Name
  5. Content Management System
  6. Disk Space
  7. Security
  8. Backups
  9. Picking a Plan
  10. Shared Hosting
  11. VPS Hosting
  12. WordPress Hosting
  13. Dedicated Servers
  14. Evaluating Price

Of course, the converse is also true. Websites that operate on a faulty hosting service can have many technical issues similar to computer bugs. You may ask ‘what is a bug in software testing?’ If your website is faulty for whatever reason, it reflects badly on your business. Consumers might attribute the website’s shortcomings with the business itself. As such, for small businesses that are just starting up, choosing a reliable web hosting service is of paramount importance.

Most businesses opt for a simple Google search on what the best hosting platforms are and select one of the options listed. This is generally a good practice, but it fails to take into account some of the finer details that will help you make the best possible purchase.

So, here’s a look at some of the key factors to consider when signing up for a web hosting service as a small business.

The Basics

The biggest barrier that most small business owners face when trying to choose a hosting service is all the confusing terms associated with hosting. While hosting companies often attempt to be as clear and concise as they can be with their terminology, it helps to have a clear understanding of what all the jargon means.

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Uptime

Uptime refers to the amount of time that a website will be online. It is by far the most important factor to consider when making a choice between hosting services. After all, it doesn't matter if a certain service can offer all kinds of different functionalities, if it can’t ensure that your website is readily accessible in the first place.

Generally, the uptime is represented by a percentage. Most hosting companies will state that their service has a 99.9% uptime. If you do the math on this, it basically means that your website will have less than nine hours of downtime over the course of a year.

Bandwidth

Bandwidth refers to the quantity of data and traffic that can be transferred between your website and other parties. More bandwidth is always better in this case but it might not be a deciding factor depending on the nature of your business.

If you are a small business that’s planning to launch its website, you can expect small to moderate amounts of traffic at the start. This means that you won’t need excessive amounts of bandwidth. On the other hand, if you are expecting a high amount of traffic to frequent your website right away, bandwidth should be near the top of your list of considerations.

Domain Name

A domain name is what users will have to type into their web browser to reach your website. It is a set of letters and numbers that ends with a domain name extension. If you ever asked yourself what is io at the end of a domain, that is an example of a domain extension. Ideally, you’ll want a clear and concise domain name that’s easy for you consumers to type in. However, it’s important to keep in mind that your URL needs to be unique and so, you might find that most of the good names are already taken.

Most hosting services will provide you with a domain name for free. You can change this domain for an extra cost.

Content Management System

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Quality assurance is a big part of what makes a business successful. In the context of your website, this means you need to post the best content possible and regularly update it. The content management system is the software that you’ll be using to manage all the digital content that gets uploaded onto your website. In many ways, this is the system that you will use to create and modify your website on a day-to-day basis.

There are plenty of different CMS options to choose from. If you were to go with an apps rating approach, WordPress is the go-to content management system. The reason for its popularity is the wide range of customisation options it offers.

Generally, a web hosting service will support a specific CMS. This will be clearly defined by the hosting service. Certain hosting services will even offer customized servers that are designed for the CMS they are running.

Disk Space

This denotes the amount of space your website can use for storage on their server. Disk space is one of those factors that can be crucial for some businesses and unimportant for others.

For instance, if your website is very large and includes a variety of media files, disk space will be crucial. On the other hand, if your website contains only a few pages and contact information, there’s no need to prioritize disk space when choosing between services.

Security

In simple terms, the security of a web hosting service is what determines how protected your website is from external threats. There are plenty of great cyber security measures out there such as firewalls, SSL protocol and malware detectors.

However, it isn’t always clear if your hosting service will provide your website with all these security features. What’s more, you will likely have to pay extra for these features in most cases. Regardless, you should always go with a safe and secure solution. So make sure to pay special attention to the security features that come with your hosting service of choice.

Backups

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It’s always good to have a backup and it’s no different when it comes to your website. A website backup is essentially a copy of your existing site that can be used if the original is experiencing downtime. For instance, if your website gets hacked, the site might experience some downtime as you work to get it repaired. You can use the backup for this period to ensure that you don’t miss out on any potential traffic.

In essence, a backup is one of the most useful tools at your disposal and having one is crucial for any growing business. When choosing a web hosting service, you should always look for options that offer automatic backups and take into account test automation best practices.

Picking a Plan

Now that you are aware of the basic features you need to keep in mind when choosing a web hosting service, it’s time to pick your plan.

Web hosting services will offer different plans that differ based on resource allotment. Paying for unnecessary resources can really rack up your costs. Therefore, it is important to first identify the resources your website will need in order to function. If you already have a functioning website you will have an easier time gauging your requirements.

Here are a few straightforward plans that are ideal for small businesses.

Shared Hosting

If you’re looking for the most cost-effective plan out there, shared hosting is the way to go. This is because shared hosting works by renting out space on a web server alongside other websites.

This is useful for small businesses that aren’t expecting large amounts of traffic to flood their website. However, the lack of resources in this plan can cause problems for larger websites or if you want your website to scale as your business grows. One way to encourage business growth might be to incorporate your brand name into a vanity number for business to increase awareness.

VPS Hosting

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Now, if you are expecting large amounts of traffic to flock to your website, VPS hosting is a great option. These plans allow you to rent out an entire virtual server. As such, there’s a high amount of resource allocation. Of course, all this utility means that VPS hosting tends to be a far more costly investment when compared to a plan that offers shared hosting.

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WordPress Hosting

This is a fairly flexible plan that allows you to choose whether you want to go with shared hosting or VPS hosting. As the name suggests, this plan is specifically designed for the WordPress CMS. So, if you’re set on using WordPress for your content management, this can be a great package deal.

Dedicated Servers

If you want to have a server all to yourself and have complete control over it, this is the option for you. This differs from VPS hosting which still has some level of resource sharing going on. You should go with this option if you prefer having control over your server and expect high levels of traffic on your website.

Evaluating Price

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Knowing all the options and features that a web hosting service provides is vital for making a good purchasing decision. However, for most small businesses, the price is always the most important factor to consider.

In general, web hosting prices can differ quite drastically depending on the vendor. You’ll often find that one web host is drastically cheaper compared to another. Of course, this might mean that you’ll miss out on certain features and services.

Author: Kate Priestman - Head Of Marketing, Global App Testing

Kate Priestman is the Head of Marketing at Global App Testing, a trusted and leading end-to-end functional testing solution for QA challenges. Kate has over 8 years of experience in the field of marketing, helping brands invent an app and achieve exceptional growth. She has extensive knowledge on brand development, lead and demand generation, and marketing strategy — driving business impact at its best. Kate has also written great articles for sites such as VMblog and Dealavo. You can connect with her on LinkedIn.

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