Website down? Insights on choosing the right web host
Like most business technologies, when your web hosting is working as it should be you don’t give it a second thought; but, if it fails it can be a massive headache. It’s close to impossible to achieve success in any industry without a reliable website. You want to put your best face forward online, and you don’t have time to deal with outages or mysterious glitches. That’s why having a reliable web hosting service is a necessity.
How do you choose a good web host?
Whether you’re looking to launch a brand new website or move to a new host, failure to consider or evaluate your web host provider can be a recipe for disaster.
It’s important to understand what you’re paying for, what your options are, and how to get the best value for money. Here’s what you need to find out before signing up with any web hosting company.
I’ve seen clients hurriedly set up a website with minimum cost only to find that, in a few months, the site starts crashing intermittently. The most common reason for this is a failure of the web host to accommodate an upturn in visitor traffic to the site.
Before signing up to anything, ask your host: Do they have plans that can handle your visitor traffic? If your traffic increases, can you easily scale up?
Google has been pushing for all web traffic to be accessed over HTTPS for a while now, and from January 2017 the Chrome web browser is going to start throwing up warnings to visitors if your website is not secured with HTTPS. (If you don’t have time to read the article I’ve linked, you can watch my 3.5 minute video here.)
Online security is no joke. Your web host must have measures in place to secure not only your website and but also their servers.
Before committing to a host: Find out whether they are able to let you set up a secure server and if they will provide the necessary tools to improve your website’s security and functionality.
It’s the golden rule of data: Back up, back up, back up!
Sadly, websites do crash from time to time. You may be hacked – I’ve seen it first-hand – or an update might corrupt your data. If something terrible happens to your site, you want to be sure your web host can easily restore it back to its last functioning version.
Prioritise the companies that allow you to personally back up your website, so you don’t necessarily have to rely on their backup in a crisis.
Ask the web host: Will they offer a backup tool for your site? How often will they back it up? How long will they retain the backups?
One ProITS client had a full site meltdown recently, only to find that their offshore web host offered support only during American business hours! Needless to say, this was not at all helpful. Prioritise a host that offers technical support 24/7.
You need to know: The level of support on offer, how you can access it, and what their contact hours are.
Even hosting giant Amazon isn’t immune to the ravages of the Australian climate. Wild weather in NSW last year left Amazon clients including Domino’s Pizza, Foxtel, The Iconic, Stan and Domain without websites for hours. This incident may have been unavoidable in the circumstances, but it is worth considering the quality of the data centre in which your site will be hosted. In many cases, a quick look into client reviews will give you some idea of the service quality a web host will provide.
Ask the host: Do they have appropriate redundancy measures in place for handling power and connection outages?
When everything else falls into place and you are comfortable with what you are getting, don’t be too excited to forget to include an exit strategy in your agreement. One ProITS client is currently locked into an exorbitantly pricey hosting agreement that’ll see them pay an extra $2,000 over four months before they can move to a more competitively priced provider.
You need to ask: Will you be locked into a contract for any length of time, and is there an exit clause?
As Warren Buffet once said, price is what you pay for, value is what you get. If you choose to use a cheap overseas host; the biggest thing to suffer is support. Some companies only offer support during American business hours, leaving you in the lurch if something goes wrong.
Choosing a free web host is even worse as you will have to deal with limited web space, bandwidth allotments and advertising on your website. All this will lower the appeal of your website and your business at large.
Then there are the providers who offer overpriced add-ons such as SEO and site analytics without ever really delivering on their promises.
Be clear: Quantify exactly what you will receive and how it will be measured before agreeing to a fee schedule.
Review your web host service. We can help
Proactive IT Solutions has helped clients with hosting problems. We’ve seen hosts that are a nightmare to get hold of, whose connections could not handle the volume of site traffic, high costs, inability to access the back end of the hosting, and hosts who don’t back up (very important for restoring a site if it is hacked or the site goes down for some other reason).
We can assist you in choosing a web host that suits your business perfectly. We will review your business needs and set up and help you get the best tools in the market. Our experts will be able to review your needs and direct you to an ideal web hosting service. So, why not contact us and watch us make good on our promise.