Choosing the best web hosting plan for your small business doesn't have to be difficult. It might seem like a daunting task especially when you go to web hosting review sites only to see that all the companies look identical to one another. However, choosing the right hosting company to work with can be made much easier when you simplify things.
How to Choose the Best Web Hosting Plan
1. Plan ahead and understand what you need
You can only find the best web hosting plan once you identify what your website is for. Ask yourself the following questions to find out what you will need:
- What will your website? (e-Commerce, blog, informational)
- How much traffic are you expecting?
- Who is going to build your website?
- Are you planning on expanding its size in the future?
In short, identify your website's purpose and review your goals to determine your exact needs. You need to identify what your specific needs are and what your website's purpose is.
2. How much will it cost you to buy and renew a web hosting package?
Cheap web hosting companies might seem like a good prospect for your website, but the adage "you get what you pay for" rings especially online. Like any other company, web hosting providers have different costs to account for so take a closer look at what they offer if the price looks too good to be true.
Aside from looking at the upfront costs to sign up, do your due diligence and find out how much the actual your web hosting plan will cost once renewal comes up. Most companies offer ridiculously low prices only to charge significantly higher when it's time to renew.
Read the fine print and determine how much the standard renewal price will cost your business and how that impacts your bottom line. As a rule of thumb, a shared web hosting plan shouldn't cost more than $9.99 per month.
3. Check the Server Uptime Record
Server uptime is an important metric to figure out, especially for businesses that earn money through their website. Server uptime simply means how much time the server online in a year. When choosing a provider, make sure it has an uptime of at least 99.9%; anything below 99% is unacceptable.
To illustrate uptime, let's convert them into 30-day periods:
- 99.9999% uptime - 3 seconds of downtime over 30 days.
- 99.999% uptime - 26 seconds of downtime over 30 days.
- 99.99% uptime - 4 minutes of downtime over 30 days.
- 99.9% uptime - 43 minutes of downtime over 30 days.
- 99% uptime - 7 hours of downtime over 30 days.
Downtime periods don’t occur all at once, but are spread out over a period of time. While seven hours might not seem a big deal, it adds up significantly over the course of a year.
4. How does the web host handle issues?
When you need help, is the company you work with available? While every web host will claim that their service is top-notch, read customer an web hosting review sites to find out how a provider handles issues that arise. The company hosting your site should be able to quickly resolve any issues and provide the necessary expertise when you really need help.
5. Can you host multiple domains under a single plan?
Throughout the life of your business, you might need to host a new website for a project or a campaign. This is where multi-domain support comes in. While domain names are cheap, it isn't logical to buy a completely separate web hosting plan to get it off the ground. Most providers – including Webnames.ca – offer multi-domain support that lets you run multiple websites on a single plan.
Take note that this feature can have different names, including Multi-domain hosting, multi-website hosting, etc.
6. Can the plan support your website's needs two years from now?
When you choose a web host, make sure that it can support your business as it grows. Aside from being able to support multiple websites all at once, you want to make sure that the host's servers can adequately support the traffic your website attracts. Checking how much bandwidth a web host offers tells you how much traffic you can take in, but if you're unsure or need further clarification, contact their customer support team.
7. Are domain names offered?
Does the web host you choose to work with offer domain registration services? While this isn't a major deal breaker, it can be beneficial to have all your services under one roof. When it comes to renewal, most web hosting providers that offer domain names can renew your services at the same time, and for one low-cost. This helps minimize any headaches while saving a lot of time when renewals come up.
Similar to hosting renewals, make sure that the domain name's renewal price remains the same. A lot of providers only offer cheap prices for domain names, but charge significantly more when it comes up for renewal.
8. Are email addresses included?
Custom email accounts are a standard part of any web hosting plan these days so make sure that your email is included. You also need to look at two things when it comes to email features: security and storage allocation.
- Inbox Storage - Even if your web host provides you with up to 500 email accounts, your overall storage is often shared across all the accounts. This is an issue as your team grows and storage continues to increase.
- Email Server Security - If you have a spam problem, it may be because your web host does not have the right security measures in place. When you're trying to find the best web hosting provider for your company, make sure that they offer a secure server to prevent spam from cluttering up your inbox.
9. What are some additional features?
What extra features do you have access to with a particular web host? Web hosting providers can range from all-in-one solutions to barebones providers so you need to have a good idea what your website will look like in 2 years. For example, if you plan on offering an e-Commerce solution, make sure that the web host you choose offers e-Commerce apps/integration.
10. How will you manage your website?
Most web hosting providers offer cPanel or Plesk to manage your website, but others have a custom interface. Ultimately, it doesn't matter what your control panel is but it needs to be user friendly and intuitive. You want a control panel that you can easily navigate through and make changes without having to call customer support all the time. This leads us to...
11. Is there a trial period?
Being able to test the services of a web host is important because it gives you an idea what the service is like. Trial periods also allow you to get a head start and begin testing how easy it is to use the control panel, how fast the host's servers are and how they manage customer support calls.
12. How are backups and server upgrades handled?
Everyone makes mistakes and sometimes, those mistakes can cost your business money. It’s important to have the ability to roll-back to a previous version, quickly.
Check to see if your web hosting provider runs regular backups. You also need to check how you can access these backups in case you need to go back to a previous version. Here are more questions you need to ask:
- How often are backups conducted?
- How many versions are stored on each server?
- Can you roll-back to a previous version yourself?
- How easy is it to access your backup?
Make sure that your web host can accommodate your needs before you decide.
13. Unlimited resources sound good... What's the catch?
Almost all web hosting providers offer unlimited resources these days so you need to go beyond the resources you receive. Instead, find out how a web hosting provider manages the data stored on their servers. Are resources partitioned equally for all users or is it a free for all?
This is important because a partitioned server means each account receives its own share of resources. On an non-partitioned server, each website or user can unintentionally hog resources meant for other users. This can slow down your website or worse, compromise your site’s security.
14. Where are the web hosting servers located?
Location plays an important role, especially when it comes to data privacy and security. When servers are hosted in Canada, web hosting providers are able to prevent third-party government agencies from accessing your data. For most Canadians, servers hosted in Canada is important because it provides an extra layer of security that ensures their data's integrity. If data privacy is a big concern for your business, make sure that you work with a Canadian web hosting provider that has strong privacy and security policies.