7 Key Factors to Consider While Selecting a Web Host
In my previous article the guide to choosing the type of hosting provider, we discussed the different types of web hosting providers. Now once you have zeroed in on the type of host you need to consider the essential factors on which to base your decision of selecting a web hosting service.
It is important to choose a web host that perfectly caters to all the requirements of your website. Your requirement might be for a corporate website, E-commerce website, Content heavy blog, high traffic website or any other type of web application. There are so many hosting providers that you can definitely find the right match for your requirement.
Below are the 7 key factors to consider while selecting your web hosting service
This is one of the most important factors to consider while selecting a web host. The web host should provide 24×7 technical support. They need to have live chat, ticket and call support. Also, you need to check how soon you are able to get access to the required support. Like the ticket resolution time should be in a couple of hours instead of days.
You need to get access to the technical support specialist via chat in a couple of minutes and you need not wait on chat for 30 minutes just to get access to the support person. Same goes for the call while calling some providers you will need to wait in a queue and wait for long before you get access to the support specialist.
And some providers are quick in responding back and some will even call you back in a couple of minutes. Providers have gone till the extent of branding their support like Rackspace calls it Fanatical Support and Liquidweb calls it Heroic support. You will not only require server support but also you will require application specific support. Hence if you go for a SharePoint hosting you will need to make sure you have access to SharePoint support specialists.
Security is another crucial factor, to make sure that your server and application environment is safe from any vulnerabilities. The provider should take care that all server Operating Systems are loaded, hardened and managed to ensure maximum web security. Many hacking and DDoS attacks can be prevented by consistent patching and by the disabling of non-essential OS services.
Another aspect is web application software like databases, Microsoft IIS, Apache, mail services, FTP servers, and open source software packages. All the software including the open source packages (Joomla, WordPress, Magento and many others) need to be of the latest version and unwanted services need to be disabled to allow no entry points for malicious attacks.
Your provider must provide you regular backups. They should be able to provide you a backup of your site data for a particular day, they should clearly mention they can restore day of the previous month or 3 months or beyond that. This is useful when you need to restore your website from the last backup in case your server is down and your data cannot be recovered. Or due to SQL injection your files are infected and you require a clean backup.
Many hosting providers take incremental backups (files which were transferred or replaced on the day) of your server on a daily basis and are also able to retrieve any backup of a particular date. They take incremental backup on a daily basis and take the entire server backup on a particular day of the week (Generally on weekly holidays as server load is low). Some providers keep backups of last 15 days and some keep backups of last 3 months.
It is always advisable to take regular backups of your website files and your database files. If your backup data is in GBs then your hosting provider can provide you a disc backup and courier it to your address (they might charge you for the hard drive and the shipping charges).
Hence, it’s best to clarify the backup policy of the hosting provider in advance.
Web hosts providers make claims of uptime guarantee of 99.5% or 99.9%. It is better to sign an SLA with your provider if critical applications are hosted with the provider, in case the provider does not have any agreements then their terms and conditions, Warranty, Disclaimer will mention details about their uptime guarantees.
Many claims are just to attract the customer, like 99% uptime guaranteed. Refer the below table which gives details about how much of downtime to expect if the provider guarantees you 99% or 99.9%. As the table shows 99% guarantee means that you can expect a downtime of approx. 3 days per year.
One more point is availability mentioned by the hosting provider, is it network uptime guarantee or web application uptime guarantee. There might be a case that your website is up and running, but it is showing errors because database application is down. It’s best to clarify with the provider that by availability they mean network availability, hardware availability, software availability or all.
This is the amount of bandwidth data transfer, you can upload or download data for a particular period. I suggest you to avoid providers which claim to provide you unlimited bandwidth and storage. Otherwise, you could face issues like getting a warning that you have used your quota of bandwidth for the month and the provider might charge you for higher usage.
The other consequence could be that the other users on your shared server will be using high resources which could result in reduced performance of your website. In the limited bandwidth and storage scenario, every user is aware of the quota they are allotted hence there are no unwanted surprises.
Many web hosting providers are based in the US and they are also very cost effective. If you are based in Hong Kong and you choose a provider from the US then your website will take much longer to load for your Hong Kong visitors.
If your business is located in Hong Kong then choose a web host that has a web server in Hong Kong. Also, clarify with the web host regarding the location of your web server. For SEO purposes, load times of websites are considered, if you host at a local server then your load times will be better.
Hence, you need to choose between a monthly plan or a yearly plan. The yearly plan can provide you some savings, but it will make it more difficult for you to move to another provider if you are not happy with the services. If you have not experienced the services of the web host, it’s advisable to go for a monthly plan. Some web host gives you a trial period of 15 days to a month, hence you can also choose this to get a feel of the services of the provider.
Carefully choose the plan that exactly caters to all your requirements. As mentioned in my earlier post consider reviews of your professional network or reviews posted by users on forums like web hosting talk.
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