Small Business Web Hosting: 11 Points Checklist
There is a lot of information about web hosting. Thousands of different companies and plans. It is often hard to decide on what will fit you best, especially when you do not understand all the hosting related terminology. So what should you do then? Close your eyes and pick a company? Pick the cheapest one? The average one? I will try to help you make your decision in this article, by providing a checklist of the items you should consider when choosing a hosting company for your small business website. An important tip: avoid free hosting services for your business website. It will look as if you cannot afford to pay for hosting, and customers may think you’re not serious at business. Leave those for personal websites only.
This is measured in MB (Megabytes) or GB (Gigabytes). One gigabyte equals 1024 Megabytes, so there is a huge difference. The space you will need depends on your website characteristics. Do you have many image files? Images take up more space than webpages themselves. To have an idea of the space you will use, add up the sizes of all your website files. Generally if you’re not sure you can start with plans that include less space and upgrade later if necessary.
2) Programming language
Is your site written using only plain html? Then this item in the checklist is not important. If it is written in ASP, Php, Cold Fusion, Perl, Java or any other programming language, you need to check the hosting plan to see if it supports that particular programming language. If you’re not sure about which programming language was used, ask your programmer about it. If you bought a script or you use an open source one, check its requirements.
3) Web Server and Operating System
Some scripts need Apache web server to run. Others need IIS running on a Windows server. Verify your script requirements or check with your programmer to see if you need to get Linux or Windows based hosting, and if it matters which the web server is.
4) Monthly Traffic
This is related to how many people will visit your site per month. Unless you chose a strange hosting package or your website is very popular, it should be enough. As with space, you can upgrade later if necessary.
Does your website use a database? If so, then you need one. The hosting package may include a MySQL database, PostgreSQL, SQLServer, or Access. Again, verify your script requirements or check with your programmer to see which database you need. It is also nice to have a utility to manage the database, so look in the hosting plan details to see if they offer a tool like phpMyAdmin, for example. phpMyAdmin is a commonly used admin tool for MySQL databases.
6) Common aspects
These are normally present in most hosting plans nowadays.
-FTP: to upload files to your server.
-POP Email addresses: email accounts you can receive in your email client, not only view online. The number of pop accounts may vary from plan to plan.
-Webmail interface: to view your email from any computer. Useful if you travel, for example.
7) Customer service
It is important that the company answers your questions promptly. Pay attention to which means they offer you to contact them. Will you have a ticketing system to ask questions and inform about problems once you’re their customer?
If you need secure pages, for example to process transactions online, check if the plan already includes this service, or if you can add it to the plan. It is common to have to pay an extra fee for this service. Keep in mind that you will also need a digital certificate so the browsers don’t display an alert when visitors enter the secure pages. A digital certificate verifies your identity. It is issued by a trusted entity. You need to buy it and renew it periodically.
9) Front Page extensions
If your website is built using Front Page, then the hosting plan needs to have these extensions for your site to work properly.
10) Parked Domains, Sub Domains and Redirects
If your site will have sub domains, like sales.your-domain.com and support.your-domain.com, the hosting plan you need has to allow the creation of these sub domains. If you have more than one domain pointed to the same website, you need to check if the plan allows you to park additional domains. If you need to redirect a page (Url) to another page, you need to be able to create redirects.
11) Control Panel
Last, but not least. A Control Panel is a must if you want to be able to manage your site efficiently.