Web hosting is a valuable service that thousands of businesses worldwide are now using as a strategic advantage for conducting business.
Among the advantages that web hosting provides:
- Cost Reduction in Building IT infrastructure – vendors provide the hardware and operation systems, and may also provide application services and support
- Availability – web hosting services promise system uptime at or near 100%, with 24/7/365 availability
- Personnel Savings – eliminates or greatly reduces the in-house technical staff needed. Saves recruiting and retention expenses, as well as on-going costs such as benefits and technical training
- Security – hosting services provide functions such as spam filtering, virus detection, protections from denial of service attacks, firewall, and network intrusion
With all that web hosting has going for it, there are certain precautions that should be taken when making the critical decision to entrust business-critical functions to web hosting services.
There are a number of mistakes business owners make when choosing a web hosting service. To do it right, keep reading!
Getting Started with Web Hosting
Making a decision to incorporate web hosting as part of your business operation is a relatively simple process, as the advantages above demonstrate. It can even be fairly easy to cost-justify, with a return-on-investment that is nearly immediate, frequently with no up-front cost.
Nonetheless, moving forward with choosing a web host requires due diligence and attention to key points, to gain all the benefits of the service while avoiding the potential pitfalls.
Since web hosting services have been around now for decades, you don’t have to learn from your own mistakes. There are plenty of others who have gone before you, and you can learn from their mistakes.
Avoiding Common Mistakes Business Owners Make When Choosing a Web Hosting Service
Incorporating web hosting into your business strategy requires some understanding of how the technology operates, to avoid decisions that will impact your business, customers, or employees negatively in the future.
Don’t Put All Your Eggs in One Basket
That’s an old adage, but it applies to web hosting services. If you’re going to migrate applications to web services, don’t implement all functions to a single server.
As an example, you may want to consider running email services on a different server from eCommerce, ERP, or help desk functions. The prevents losing all functions if an individual server experiences an outage, regardless of duration.
Know What You Need
You can discuss this with your proposed web host services, for their input. There are multiple levels of service offered by most providers:
- Shared Services – multiple customers share resources on servers
- Virtual Private Servers – your services are housed separately, but in a virtual server environment that shares resources such as disk storage
- Dedicated Servers – your server is a physical server that is assigned only to your business, and cannot be impacted by outages or performance issues on other servers
There are advantages to each level of service, and associated cost differences, as well. You need to determine which level of service is right for you, and how the web host provides upgrades from one level to the next, before signing up.
Reading Terms and Conditions
It’s surprising how many businesses don’t read or understand the details of web hosting contracts when signing.
Make sure issues important to you are in writing, such as service level agreements (SLAs) for performance and availability, cancellation policies, penalties for not living up to availability, and acceptable response to support, and any additional features agreed upon during service discussions such as software to be provided by the service.
Reading the fine print includes understanding terms such as “free” or “unlimited.” Unlimited disk storage may have a definition in the fine print with a disclaimer such as “up to” a certain limit, after which additional charges apply.
Understand Who Your Provider Is
Many web hosting services are in fact third-party providers, reselling services that are actually run and provided by another company.
This may not be a huge issue at first, but if the reseller goes out of business or fails to live up to your expectations or contracted SLAs, you may be left to deal with another company who is not legally obligated to honor your terms and conditions.
This can leave you with web hosting services that are sub-standard or even fail to operate, leaving you scrambling for new options.
Partnering with a Startup
There are far too many long-standing, high-performing web hosts available with years or decades of exemplary service, to risk your business on a newcomer to the industry.
As with many new businesses, a new web host may hit the ground running with a great sales pitch and low initial cost, then fail due to mismanagement or poor sales in a brief amount of time.
Select a vendor with a long history of satisfied customers, and include customer reviews in your due diligence. Be sure to verify customer satisfaction with service and support.
Mistakes Business Owners Make When Choosing a Web Host – In Closing
Remember that to website visitors, your site is the face of your company. Any downtime or slow performance will portray a negative feeling toward your business or services.
With appropriate research and evaluation of web hosting services, your chosen provider will become a valued business partner and an extension of your IT infrastructure.