Web hosting: From bugs to backups, what you need to know

Any smart business will make full use of their online presence. This means having an aesthetically pleasing and fully functioning site, which is easy to navigate. However, many business owners forget that what goes on behind the scenes of your website is just as important as the outside. Whether you have a content-driven website or an eCommerce site – the company you choose to host your site will be one of the most important business decisions you make.

Know what you want
Before you select your web hosting company, you need to answer fundamental questions about what you actually need. Your site’s function, be it blogging, promotion or selling will dictate its form. You may need special software that performs a very specific function, or a simple package to cover basic web host performance. Keep in mind how much traffic you expect to receive and choose a host that best caters for this.

The basics
Nowadays everyone is online, with the internet offering potential for huge revenue. Not everyone is technically minded though, so if you don’t want to traverse the minefield of computer jargon, choose a web host who will provide some form of server management. This should be tailored to your website’s needs and offer software configuration and upkeep. The service will monitor and troubleshoot any problems your site has, so you don’t have to.

Fool-proof your site
Your data is vital to your business, so any good hosting provider should offer full website backup. Preferably this should be undertaken at least once a week for small businesses to guarantee data storage. Research how regularly your web host does this before committing to any plan, regular website backup should be provided as an automated service or should be at least offered on request. Find out where your data is being stored, as this should always be on a separate server backup system in case any technical disasters strike.

Security: List your priorities
Hackers are a huge threat to any website, constantly developing new ways to obtain information via uploading malware which compromises your server. All IT systems, applications and software have vulnerabilities and the best way to predict and prevent these is constant surveillance. This year in particular saw three huge software bugs which compromised thousands of servers. The use of antivirus software, firewalls and thorough system maintenance via software patches will help safeguard your server.

Make a list of your top security worries and see if your web host providers can respond to your requirements. The perfect web host will endeavour to take a proactive approach to new vulnerabilities and will swiftly patch their managed servers under the threat of attack.

Check up on their priorities
Always check to see if your web hosting providers have their own servers in a secure environment and hold security as a main priority. Their main concern should be to limit the risk of security attacks on your server. Also ask them about their hardware and if they are using the best equipment, this directly affects the performance of their servers and your site. A lot of the time you get what you pay for, and security is essential for investing in.

Reputation: Uphold it
Any web host worth their salt will offer SSL certificates as standard. These are the bedrock of secure data transfer and are proof of an authentic site. For secure transmission of important and sensitive data such as credit card details or passwords, it’s crucial to encrypt these before sending them through other web browsers. For online retailers, these certificates are vital; they let your customers know their data is protected. Your credibility as a business rests on your ability to not only protect your own data, but your customers’ too.

Support when you need it
The internet can be untrustworthy. Websites are prone to glitches, hackers and server downtime. So not only do you want to be speaking with trained professionals if and when something does go wrong – you want to be able to get a hold of them. Not enough value can be placed upon great technical support, and this means having access to that support at any time. Try to choose a web host that not only offers a telephone support number, but an email or forum based support option too. Watch out for web hosts who only offer phone support – often these are charged at premium rates.

One click simplicity
A web host that offers one click installers can benefit everyone, including those who require fast Word Press installation on blogs, forum users and to others selling products online. One Click means that, without any technical expertise, you can set up a professional website easily and fuss free. As many security breaches occur through out-of-date plugins and themes, One Click also has the benefit of automatic maintenance. By choosing One Click software, your installations are automatically updated with the latest versions of the plugins as they are released, fixing any reported security issues.

Do a “social media stalk”
Do your research. Check your potential web hosts out on both Facebook and Twitter, and see what their customers are saying about them. People let loose on social media sites and you’re more likely to get an honest review about their performance. Bear in mind people will be more inclined to comment on the negatives and therefore their opinions don’t provide the full picture, but it’s useful in the way that it highlights any recurring problems the host suffers from.

Bandwidth: Room to grow
With an online website, you hope to expand and grow. With this growth comes demand, and this means more traffic and data. Ensure your web host allows you to upgrade your bandwidth easily, allowing your enterprise to develop and grow.

Image: Technology via Shutterstock