In building your online presence, one of the key things to decide is who will ‘host’ your website. This essentially means who will store the files and provide the software that enables your website to function. If you are employing an external web-developer to help you with creating your website, it is generally thought wise not to entrust them with finding you a web hosting service.
Choosing your own hosting provider means that there is a degree of separation between the website itself (and its development) and the hosting aspect. This can be an important way of protecting yourself and your site against any conflicts/disagreements between the website developer and yourself. Imagine if you fall out with the developer and you have asked them to deal with the hosting as well? Potentially they could take your site down and cause untold damage to your business!
To help you choose a hosting solution that’s right for professional service companies, here are 13 essential hosting features that you should look for.
1. Pricing and renewal
One of the most important considerations for all businesses is pricing. There are many service providers that provide similar hosting services at a range of prices. The more expensive options tend to be feature-heavy and able to deal with a lot of concurrent traffic. However, don’t pay for what you don’t need!
Another thing to watch out for when it comes to pricing is the cost of renewing your account. You may be surprised to find that the renewal cost is actually higher than your initial payment when you signed up.
2. Robust security
Unfortunately, the growing sophistication of cybercriminals means there is an increased need to defend your website from ransomware, phishing attacks, malware infections and hacking. These can result in cybercriminals stealing data, corrupting files, taking over websites and even deleting them.
Choosing the right web host can have a significant impact on the security of your website. Look for a vendor that provides a comprehensive set of security tools, including a strong firewall, intrusion prevention, malware scanning, email scanning, spam filtering, SSL encryption and more.
3. Technical support
The level of tech support you need is dependent upon your own knowledge. Most of the major providers will offer 24/7 support which is vital for instances where your site may go offline and you need a resolution immediately.
When it comes to web hosting, it is vital that you choose a host that provides 24/7 technical support. This way, should anything go drastically wrong, you have the peace of mind of knowing there is a qualified expert available there and then to help you fix the problem. What’s more, as you begin to deploy more advanced technology, technical support can help you make the right choices for your business objectives.
4. Hardware, bandwidth and storage
The hardware is not that much of an issue because hosting is delivered via a third-party provider’s infrastructure. You just need to make sure that your web servers have sufficient memory, storage, etc. to be able to deal with what you need to do.
The best choice here will always be a hosting provider that offers unlimited bandwidth. Similar to bandwidth, the more storage you get, the better.
5. Professional email address features
This is something else you will need to consider. Email is still a significant part of your web presence so if you are choosing to use an email service that is run by the hosting provider, you will want to ensure that it has features such as spam control, forwarding, aliases, auto-responders and so forth.
Make sure your service provider offers domain-based email addresses and that their email service has all the features you need. This includes the ability to integrate email with platforms like Outlook and which provides spam and malware scanning and blacklist checking.
6. Control panel
This is essentially the user interface that enables you to control/administer your website via the hosting provider. When it comes to control panels, the simpler the better.
The key to this is to have a website control panel that makes managing your site easy. Industry leading control panels, like cPanel or Plesk, are easy to navigate, intuitive to use and come with in-built help. What’s more, they provide an unparalleled range of tools so that you can do more from a single interface.
7. Shared or private hosting
The option you choose really depends on what kind of website you are running. If you have a fairly simple site with low traffic, you will probably be absolutely fine to opt for a shared hosting service. This essentially means that you are sharing resources, including a server, with a number of other sites. This is cheaper and usually very straightforward.
If your website is more complex, or you are expecting significant volumes of website traffic, you may be better off opting for private hosting. This is a more expensive option but gives you more control and your own dedicated resources.
8. Scalability - Room for expansion
If your business is likely to grow significantly/at pace, you need your web presence to be able to grow with it. So make sure that your service provider is clear about how easy it is to scale-up or down. Some services will automatically upgrade your system if you reach certain milestones in-terms of capacity, bandwidth or traffic.
9. Guaranteed uptime
The internet is a 24/7 marketplace and that means it is important that a professional services website remains available to customers at all times. Failure to be online can lose business, annoy customers and damage your reputation.
While essential maintenance, such as security patching, means there will be short periods when a web host has to take your server offline, you should still expect uptime guarantees of 99.9%, depending on the type of hosting (shared, VPS or dedicated server) you have chosen.
You need to make sure that your hosting provider offers a solid backup feature/policy. This protects against events such as file deletion or even damage to equipment. Ask the provider about their disaster recovery plan and about how often they backup your files (and to where).
The best backup solutions can be scheduled to occur automatically at regular intervals, are stored remotely from your own server, are encrypted for security and tested for integrity to make sure that what you have backed up is not corrupted.
11. Domain parking service
This is a great feature to have. If you have bought a lot of domain names (for example, misspellings or shortened versions of your main domain), parking services mean you can have all these on one control panel. This helps with brand management and means that you can monitor how many people are accidentally typing in these other domains. You can of course set up auto-forwarding on these domains so you don’t lose custom.
10. Ease of switching provider/leaving
Despite being last on the list, this is an important one. You may at some point want to move to a different provider – and you will want to be able to do so fairly easily. Make sure that you read all the small print in your contract and ensure that you can switch provider if you need to – without financial penalties or endless hassle.
12. Refund options
Some web hosting providers offer a set period with a money-back guarantee. When you’re trying out a web hosting service, it’s ideal to have hassle-free refund options. This lets you pay to try out their service and see if it provides what your business needs. If you find their service not worth the money you paid, at least it’s easy to get your money back.
13. Extra Features
Some useful extra features can include the following: Unlimited or free email accounts, free site transfers, cPanel availability, CDN availability, One-click WordPress installation, Security monitoring, DDoS protection, LetsEncrypt SSL.
View our Web Hosting plans or give us a call on +383 44 114409 for some advice form our friendly team.