Whether you’re about to launch an ecommerce store for your startup business or you’re a multinational firm looking to upgrade your digital infrastructure, getting the right web host is an important task.

Today’s tech-savvy consumers demand speed and reliability, and because of that, you can’t afford for your website to be offline for even a minute of the day.

In fact, according to the Cost of Data Center Outages report from the Ponemon Institute, the average data outage costs ecommerce businesses an eye-watering $758,000 (£566,000), so finding a dependable web host is an essential exercise if you want to remain online at all times.

Below, we’ve put together eight essential features that you should look for when choosing a new web host to ensure you find a provider that’s right for your business needs and your budget.

 

UK-based support

Unless you’re a technology whizz kid or you have a technician in-house, web hosting can be complex. Having a team of server support staff at the other end of the phone can stop you from worrying and ensure that, if anything does go wrong with your server, you’ll be able to speak to an expert and have your website back online in a matter of minutes. Having a team based in the United Kingdom is also important, as you’ll be able to speak with a support member during your working hours, and even visit the data centre if you’re employing an advanced custom server.

 

Uptime guarantee

As we’ve already mentioned, uptime is essential; you never know when a new customer could be logging onto your website, and if they can’t get access, they’ll simply assume that you’re no longer in business and head to one of your competitors instead.

Find a web host that offers an uptime guarantee to give you peace of mind and ensure standards are met. And think of it like this: if your host offers a 99% uptime guarantee, then that could mean your site is down for three and a half days a year, which is just not good enough.

 

Positive customer reviews

Before you sign on the dotted line and choose a new web hosting provider, make sure you check out their customer reviews and testimonials to get a feel for the level of service. And don’t necessarily assume that every positive review and blog post is genuine; the hosting industry is notorious for affiliate marketing, so always verify the legitimacy of a review before you proceed.

 

Data backups

Data loss can be catastrophic to businesses, and for businesses that are solely run online, losing access to files, customer information and website content could spell the end. Make sure that you choose a web hosting provider that offers regular backups of your data to ensure its safety, and consider employing your own third-party backup software for even greater protection against data loss.

 

Cost of add-ons

If a web hosting package sounds too good to be true, then it probably is. Put it this way: it would be impossible for any legitimate business to offer unlimited web hosting and first-class support for 99p, so always read the terms and conditions and check the cost of additional services and features before you sign up for a plan. Some web hosts limit their users and ask them to pay for expensive add-ons for simple features like email accounts and SSL certificates. You should calculate the true cost of the hosting plan before you jump into a contract blindly.

 

Scalability

Digital businesses can explode in popularity practically overnight, so you should choose a web host that can offer you additional space, bandwidth and RAM whenever you need it. If your web hosting package is not scalable, then you’ll have to worry about migration and long periods of downtime whenever you want to upgrade to an advanced server. Always think long-term.

 

Overselling

Shared hosting is when a web host uses the same server to house tens or even hundreds of websites, allocating each their own space and bandwidth while allowing them to share a pool of resources like RAM. It’s an affordable way for small business owners and hobbyists to host their sites online without spending a fortune, but it isn’t the most reliable hosting.

Some cheaper web hosts will ‘oversell’ space and bandwidth to their shared hosting customers, resulting in a poor-performing server and an increased chance of hacks and data breaches. To ensure your website performs at its best and keeps your data away from the reach of hackers, you should instead think about a virtual server, or a dedicated server just for your business. Granted, these options are more expensive, but they’re worth it in the long-run.

 

Accessibility

Depending on the nature of your website, your developer might require root access to your server to install software, run cron jobs or optimise the machine for performance. If you think this will be the case, you should find a web hosting provider that offers flexibility and easy access to the behind the scenes areas of your web hosting. Without this, your developer will likely have regular headaches and find it hard to implement right technology to power your site effectively.

 

There are lots of things that you need to think about when choosing a web host, but this article should give you some food for thought and help you make that all-important decision. At Zudu, we offer a range of website management and hosting services, designed to take the pressure off and ensure you deliver a reliable service to your customers. Get in today to find out more.

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