Finding the right hosting company is essential to keep your company website always online, secure and accessible. Read our quick start guide to choosing a descent hosting provider and what to look for...
What is Business Hosting?
Small business hosting involves uploading a web page file using file transfer protocol (FTP) to a hosting server. Most hosting servers are accessible by buying 'web space' from a web hosting company. Hosting your site is a simple enough technical exercise. Yet your decisions regarding which hosting provider to use will affect web site accessibility and uptime levels.
Hosting of a web site of is almost always overlooked by the beginners. There are thousands of hosting companies, offering very cheap shared hosting space. The temptation is to just go to the easiest, quickest and cheapest option. Sometimes this attitude can severely damage your business. The general rule for choosing a hosting company is that you get what you pay for.
Quality hosting is a critical to ensure your target market can actually access your site without it falling over every other day. Before 'pointing' your DNS settings to a new hosting shared server package, you must think through your technical requirements such as operating system support for database, online applications and scripts, stats, email access and the level of telephone support offered by the hosting company.
Types of Hosting
There are many different types of hosting for your website. Firstly, a shared hosting account is the most popular low cost option wit small firms. Shared hosting involves literally sharing hard disk space on a hosting companies internet server. Generally, the lower the hosting cost, the more downtime your website will suffer over the long term. Secondly, dedicated server hosting involves renting physically separate secure server with it own network functions, security firewall, custom software configuration and higher bandwidth. Thirdly, free web hosting can be obtained from many Internet Service Providers (ISP's). However, free hosting is not really suitable for a business website because the service and support tends to be patchy or non-existent. Lastly, a managed hosting service is a service where the user remotely accesses a server to upload website data to. The physical server and operating system remain under the control and ownership of a cloud based provider, whose engineers manage the server farm.
Which Country to Host a Site In?
It is preferable to host your website in the country you are targeting to sell products and services into. For instance, some UK based hosting companies may simply resell shared hosting space from USA data centres. The perception when you visit the resellers '.co.uk' website (with the UK telephone number) is that the reseller must have UK servers. So, always remember to check of the DNS settings of the hosting company before you commit to a contract. Search engines use the primary and secondary DNS / Internet protocol (IP) settings of a hosted site (which is a public information) as a basis for making sense of comparable websites and their offerings. If the hosting company offers the option for a dedicated IP that can also be worth investing into. This will reduce the risk of a search engines penalizing your site for being 'associated' with banned sites that just happen to share the same server a you.
Websites hosted in countries abroad may find difficulty getting their website included in geographically orientated search engines and directories. When you are searching for hosting, try and use terms such as 'business hosting uk' (if you are looking for a UK based supplier). Conversely, if you are searching for 'cheap hosting, you'll be presented with of thousands of results' (mainly US based resellers of shared space at ridiculously cheap rates). So, for any business seeking hosting, a dedicated server would normally provide the reliability, peace of mind, security and functionality they are seeking.
Software & Services Considerations
Most hosting providers support either the Windows, Linux or Unix operating systems. Each operating system restricts the software application development platforms available in each environment. These development environments include ASP.net, PHP and Java. In addition, most commercial hosting providers offer standard applications so you can manage your shared hosting account:-