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Major Factors to Consider Before Choosing a Web Host for Your Business

Fri, 11/09/2012 - 4:26pm | by Guest Contributor

If you want to compete in the workplace, there's no way (even legitimate reason) to get around the fact that you'll need a website. It's highly-effective when it comes to showcasing what your business has to offer, networking with other companies and connecting with an international client base that you wouldn't be able to any other way.

However, whether it's you or a web designer that you're considering contracting to build your site, one of the most important decisions that you can make as it relates to this very issue is choosing the best web host for your website. It may seem like a simple choice, but there are actually several key things that you need to consider beforehand. Here are five of them.

How much storage and bandwidth do they have? One of the most important elements of any website is making sure that you have enough storage data. For small to medium sized websites, you probably only need several gigabytes. There are some hosting companies that will tell you that they offer unlimited space, but make sure to read the fine print carefully; that still usually only means up to a certain amount. Bandwidth is about the amount of storage allotted for both you and the people visiting your site to upload and download content. Something that a lot people fail to realize is that every time a visitor comes to your page, if they look at every one of them, they've downloaded content that goes towards your monthly bandwidth. Going over your monthly amount can either prevent other visitors from viewing the site or cost you some additional money. Therefore, make sure you get enough to meet all of your specific needs.

Will they let you have several domains? A lot of business owners have more than one website. It's a lot easier to have an account with a web host company that will allow you to host several domains under one account. Make sure to ask before setting up an account.

What kind of support will you get? OK, before we even get into the technical stuff of this section, first make sure they have good customer/technical support. One of the worst things to happen is to have a site crash or some coding issues and you can't find a chat line or phone number (with reasonable hours) with the web host company. Beyond that, support also means framework and database support. When it comes to your database, a traditional kind of support is MySQL, but there are other kinds as well including Oracle and SQL Server. It's an article in itself to explain all of the differences, but Google them and if you like what you see, don't settle for less than you want.

Do they have advanced email features? It's pretty customary for web hosting companies to offer you more than one email account for your website. What you really need to verify is if there are several options available when it comes to checking your messages. In other words, do they have webmail interface? Can they be easily integrated with Google Apps? Are you able to POP serve your email accounts? After all, it can be pretty inconvenient to have lots of email that you can't check it from places other than your desktop.

What feature applications does it have? Most web host companies have HIPAA compliant hosting. You still may want to double-check to be sure because that has to do with your privacy and security settings. Once you have confirmed that they are compliant, explore what feature applications they may have such as forums and mailing lists, e-commerce capabilities and bulletin boards. Times are always progressing in the technological world and so you might want to also see if they are capable of allowing you to do administrative work from your iPhone or Android. It's not a highly-popular feature yet, but if it's a necessity for you, web host companies MediaTemple and SliceHost do it for sure.

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