How web hosting can have a major impact to your website and why it’s often not thought about.
Most business owners have their own website. Being a digital age, not having a website is like not having a phone/mobile number. For a lot of business owners, their website brings in a large source of leads/sales and in order to stay competitive they need not just a functioning website, but one that can perform consistently.
When it comes to websites, most people believe that you only need a website developer, what is missing however, is a website host. Without hosting, your website can not appear online and furthermore if you’re hosting fails, so to does your website.
You may already know this, so why am I telling you something you already know? Well, a former client of ours recently called me with an issue regarding their website. We designed their website three years prior, so I was somewhat surprised when they asked me if we have a copy of their website.
“Sure, I can check” I said ”but may I ask why you need a copy of your website?”
“Well the other day, our site went down, I rang up [host company] and asked what was wrong, they told me that the site server was corrupt and our website files were lost. They asked me to get in touch with my developer and ask them to re-upload the site files.’
“Ok, well I can check for you if we still have your site files, however you do realise that if we do have your site files, it will only be a copy of when your site first went live. All updates to the site since will be lost.” There was a pause, ”Is there any way you can get the latest updates, you have the login details, can you see if they have any copies of the files that you can use?”
I said “Sorry but unless they have a backup of your files, I can’t do anything more.”
This is a situation I would not want to be in and I do believe that this scenario happens to a lot of people out there. A good reason for why this happens is because not a lot of people understand hosting. They think hosting is just a place to store your website and anyone who offers this service is fine to use. This cannot be further from the truth.
Here are 7 points you need to think about before you choose a hosting provider.
- Security – Make sure your host does backup your data on a remote server. If your site gets hacked or the server crashes (like in the story above) you want to be able to restore your site as quickly and easily as possible. Check how often backups occur, some do it more frequently than others which can be beneficial to you if you update your site regularly. Also check if the backup and restore of the site are additional costs. Some of the cheaper hosting providers don’t offer these services without extra charges.
- Reliability – Choose a hosting provider that offers minimal downtime (time when your website is not accessible to a visitor). Sometimes these stats are visible on the websites. You want a site that offers the lowest downtime percentage (99.9%). Reading reviews, can also provide this information.
- Performance – You want to ensure that your host is on the latest servers which get updated frequently. Like computers, servers need to be checked for viruses and also needs to be updated to the latest versions. This will ensure your site is optimised and can run the latest plugins. Also consider the location of where the server is stored. Whilst this doesn’t offer massive impact to performance, having a server located in Australia for an Australia business will generally run quicker than a server located on the other end of the world.
- Customer Server – At some point of time you will need to contact your host for support. You will not get a quick response if your host is in a different county and only open during office hours. Find out what points of contact are offered (online, email, phone etc) and find out how responsive staff are before deciding on a host.
- How easy can you switch – If you choose a website host and then find a better host down the track, how easy is it to move to this better host? Does the host charge fees for switching? Are there cancellation fees? It is important to establish this before you sign up.
- Upgradability – Your website when new will generally need minimal resources to operate, that is server space, bandwidth etc. But will this increase over time and if so how easy is it to upgrade to suit your needs. Choose a hosting provider that offers different hosting levels and ensure the process to upgrade is easy.
- Price – This is often the only consideration for most people and it makes sense to choose the most cost effective host. However, this doesn’t always reflect the cheapest. Often the cheaper host providers cut corners somewhere and you don’t want to be in a situation where you need the service that they have cut. We all know the saying “You get what you pay for” and this certainly applies with hosting. Determine your needs first and then choose the cheapest option that services ALL your needs.
The impact of your website is not always just on the website developer. The website host plays an important part on the performance, reliability and effectiveness on your website and working in tandem with a website developer will ensure you are getting the most out of your website.