Hosting companies are the glue that keeps your site tied to the web.
If you have a website, you’re going to need a website hosting company to keep it secure, backed-up, updated, and running smoothly.
Finding a modern, reliable hosting company is like hiring a trusted advisor. Good ones give you the peace of mind you need to focus on the offline parts of your business, and they will be there for you when your site needs updates and security patches.
Website hosting companies come in all sizes, and offer a wide range of levels of service.
Follow this hiring checklist when researching how to choose a website hosting company to ensure you find a trusted partner and advocate for your website.
1) Ask about the underlying servers
Hosting companies offer file storage and backup protection for clients using server space from larger companies. Server warehouses like Amazon Web Services, RackSpace, and WP Engine house millions of websites from around the world.
There are also smaller, regional alternatives out there.
When you are looking to hire a hosting company, it pays to ask where they get their server space. These server warehouses, also called “data centers,” are where your site and all your files will actually live. Research the answer; make sure you are comfortable with the data center where your site will be placed.
Is it reviewed online and reputable? Does it have backup power? Are there multiple internet connections in case one goes down? Is the facility physically secure? Do they back up files offsite?
Also look into the location of the data center. We recommend a company that offers server space in the same region or state where you are located, rather than one farther afield. You might also be interested in the type of power the data center runs on. A data center fueled by renewable energy could be a more attractive option to you than a fossil fuel alternative.
2) Look for reliability
Your host company should be able to guarantee your website stays online at least 99 percent of the time. Even at 99 percent, that still leaves about seven hours a month your site could be down. For an online retailer, if those hours fall at what would be a busy time, that could mean significant lost sales.
Which hosting plan is right for you? We have a variety of options
More established hosting companies offer 99.5 percent uptime guarantees and have the ability to monitor uptime around the clock.
Any guarantee your hosting company makes should be incorporated into a “Service Level Agreement” between you and the company.
3) Response time
If you’re paying a company to host your website, you should expect reasonably quick responses to any concerns or updates you may have. Hosting companies should provide a support ticket when you submit an issue for their attention. That way you know they are tracking your issue. It’s fair to expect your ticket will be resolved within one day.
Host companies do offer different plans with different levels of service for you to consider. For example, if you have a site that will need continuous updates, a higher-level plan that has service time for tweaks and updates built in (which will, of course, cost more up front) should be considered.
If you have a basic plan, you should not expect to be able to submit multiple change requests and updates to your hosting company without incurring an additional hourly fee.
Busy companies that host multiple sites will prioritize support tickets. Security issues or uptime issues will receive immediate attention. Style and branding-related requests may take a temporary backseat.
4) Add-on services
Beyond their basic and premium-level hosting plans, a hosting company should be able to offer clients add-ons to help with page loading speeds, spam filtering for blog pages with comments sections, and analytics reporting, among other services. These will come with additional fees, but you may find them to be a good value.
5) Security and protection
You rely on your hosting company to keep your site free from malware and hacks. An effective hosting company should commit to continuous security monitoring and installation of all available security updates.
Keep these guidelines in mind when shopping for a website hosting company so you can build and grow your online presence knowing you have a trusted partner at your side.