Most website owners do not concern themselves with the intricacies of hosting. Many site owners don’t consider their hosting until a problem occurs. At that point it can be more problematic to get your site running again. Therefore, it is important for webmasters to learn about the features included in their hosting package. The following information explains 8 important facts that can help you keep your site running smoothly.
As a website owner one of your main concerns should be whether visitors have access to your site. In the world of hosting this deals with a server’s uptime. Uptime is a measure of how long a server has been up and running without interference. When a server is “up” it means that your website is available on the web. When a server is “down” no one can access your site. A server’s uptime is important if you want people to access your site at any time.
Uptime is shown as a percentage. Web host providers will advertise their uptime as something like 99.9%. A server running at 99.9% means that it is up and running almost all the time. It also means that the hosting provider is doing a good job of keeping their systems healthy.
Sometimes an uptime can be misleading. There isn’t a general standard to measure uptime. Some providers don’t count scheduled downtime into the uptime/downtime statistics. They also don’t tell you what time frame they are basing the statistic on. It could mean a lot of different things depending if it is measured daily, weekly or yearly. Check customer reviews to determine if a company’s uptime claims are true.
Speed (or response time) dictates how fast your site shows to a visitor. Studies show that when a site takes too long to load web visitors tend to click the back button and leave. Web search companies like Google may lower your organic rankings if your site loads too slow. Google recommends that sites load in under half a second. For e-commerce sites losing a second or two could cost you money in terms of loss sales. See this article about Amazon’s experience with slow speeds.
Web hosting support is not created equal. Some companies are more attuned to customer service than others. If you need 24/7 access to a support team to resolve unforeseen issues, make sure your future host provides such. You many also want find out if the company has telephone support reps to assist with problems. It can be helpful to have someone to walk you through issues rather than waiting on email support.
Website owners need to protect their investment. All websites are susceptible to hackers, malware and ID thieves. Your hosting company is the first line of defence against malicious attacks.
There are a couple of characteristics you should look for in your web host to make sure your site stays safe. Look for servers with RAID which protects data in the event of a crash. Make sure you can use SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) technology to encrypt traffic between the server and webpage. You should also opt for hosts that offer STFP (Secure File Transfer Protocol) to keep uploads secure. Furthermore, your host should provide regular, automatic backups so that you have a copy of your site if something goes wrong.
- Server Language
Not all programming languages work on any old server. Website owners should check to see if a host’s server works with the language of their site. If you have a WordPress site, you’ll need a Linux server that supports the right version of MYSQL. Linux also supports PHP, PYTHON and PERL. Some hosting companies offer CMS specific hosting packages to make it easy. For example, many companies offer WordPress hosting packages which make it a breeze to install and maintain the CMS.
If you are using a language like ASP, you will need to use a Windows server. These servers are available from most of the well-known hosting providers. If in doubt, contact the host to find out whether your site is compatible with its servers.
- Website Space and Bandwidth
Web hosts vary on the space they offer in their hosting or e-commerce packages. Some smaller hosts offer packages with several hundred megabytes. Other larger hosts may offer packages with several gigabytes or even unlimited space. You will need to know how large your site is and how much space you’ll need in the future to take get the most for your money.
Another important aspect of web hosting concerns bandwidth allowances. The amount of bandwidth you have available determines how much traffic a site can handle. It also affects how much data is transferred through your site. If you have graphics heavy site or a lot of traffic you will need as much bandwidth as you can get!
When looking for good bandwidth offers don’t get caught up in the word “unlimited.” Unlimited deals sound like a good thing but they are not exactly limitless. Bandwidth is also affected by the server speeds and the web visitor’s PC and internet speed. As such, there is no way to offer true, unlimited bandwidth. What you should look for is an “unmetered” package which means the host won’t charge you for excessive bandwidth usage.
If you’re lucky enough to have a website that goes viral, you’ll want scalability. This word describes the ability to increase a server’s resources as more demand (or traffic) occurs for your site. It works by supplementing the server’s RAM, bandwidth, storage and CPU speed to handle more requests. This option is usually found in VPS (Virtual Private Servers) or cloud based hosting packages. It is a good idea to invest in these types of services if you expect your site to have seasonal traffic spikes or successful marketing campaigns.
- E-Mail Support
Most website owners want a personalized e-mail account that contains their domain name. If you need such an account, verify that your hosting provider allows this option. Some hosts allow you to create an unlimited amount of e-mail addresses so that you can give access to other users. Once you create the addresses you can access them through your hosting control panel’s default program or set them up in a program like Outlook.
Bringing It All Together
Understanding web hosting is important if you want to protect your digital investment. The facts listed above will help you find the right hosting solution for your needs. If your current hosting provider is not offering features, you need it is not difficult to switch to another. Many of today’s hosting providers will even migrate your site to their servers for a reasonable fee. Whether you are starting or moving a site make sure to shop around and find a quality web host that will keep your site up and running!