Before we get started – what is web hosting?
In the real world, if you wanted to start a business you would have to consider the physical location that you would want to keep and/or sell your products/services. When it comes to your business online, the same rules apply and you need a ‘base’ to store everything.
When you begin your online business journey, your website will be made up of a collection of files, images, and HTML code. These files take up space and need a place to ‘be stored’ on the web. Without an online base, all your hard work would just sit on your computer and no one would ever see it! A hosting provider, such as ourselves, work for you by providing a, safe, place on a web server to store all of your files. They are also responsible for ensuring the delivering of the files that create your website, as soon as a browser (ie potential customer) makes a request to view your website by typing in your domain name.
Not only is web hosting essential for launching your website, but it can also have a big impact on your SEO (Search Engine Optimisation). This is because your web host affects important aspects of your website such as speed, security, and more!
To put it simply, when you pay for hosting services, you are simply renting storage space on the internet — Just think of hosting providers as a virtual landlord!
How to pick the best ‘virtual landlord’
We aren’t going to lie, there are LOTS of hosting platforms out there! BUT, that doesn’t mean they are all good, or the best host for you and your business.
Things to consider when looking for a good website host:
*Your website needs – Depending on your niche, you are going to have different goals to take into consideration. For example, If you are looking for an e-commerce website you will want to focus on bandwidth and online payment security, as many businesses find customers have abandoned their online transactions because of poor website design and inefficient hosting. Many web hosts offer services tailored to specific platforms too such as WordPress, who claims over 60% of the CMS market.
*Subscription period – If it is a company that hasn’t been recommended to you by someone you trust, it can be reassuring to try a new host for a trial period before signing up to them for the long-haul. With that being said, you will normally find that you can save £££ if you are feeling confident enough to agree to a long term plan. Of course with everything in the web world, we do recommend checking the companies refund policy and guarantees before you agree to anything.
*Server Reliability and Uptime – Another essential service you will want to look in to is what each host offers in terms of uptime guarantees.
“Uptime” refers to the percentage of time that your website is ‘live’ and available for potential customers to use without any issues. Of course you will want your site to be online and accessible as much as possible, and the best hosts should all guarantee something very close to 100% uptime. Although be careful, as not all website hosting providers will define ‘uptime’ in the same way, so review all policies carefully to make sure there is nothing trying to catch you out.
Here at purple moon designs, we are happy to say that our Uptime has been 100%, with zero down time since March 2021 – and even before then, it was rare that we encountered any issues!
*E-commerce site functionality – As we touched on briefly already, if it is an e-commerce site you are finding a home for, it is ESSENTIAL the web host you chose has everything required to run an online store. For example, built-in e-commerce tools, one-click installations of useful applications, and even extra security measures for online transactions. We would also recommend keeping an eye out again for hidden costs, as if your host does not offer Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) certificates, you’ll need to purchase one that meets the standards of the payment gateways you plan to use.
*Control Panel – We know not everyone has web development knowledge and that Hosting can sometimes be the most technical part of running your website. However, there’s no need to feel intimidated. Most hosts, ourselves included, provide a user-friendly control panel or dashboard. This is where you can configure different parts of your website’s setup and software. At purple moon designs we make sure to take the time to talk our clients through as much (or as little!) as they wish to know and understand, free of charge!
*Email Hosting – Do you currently have a personal email that you use for business but would love one that matches your business? EG [email protected], Well you will need a host to look after that side of things too.
Sometimes an email address will be included in your hosting plan with limited usage or cost per number of company e-mails required. However, especially if you plan on using email marketing to reach your audience, taking the time to read through your email hosting options is highly recommended.
As with everything, there are pros and cons to having your email host and your web host combined. Unless your host has provisions for protecting one or the other, there could be an issues that “if one goes out, they all go out”. This means that if your web host crashes, it will take your email with it as well, which again links back to uptime and reliability. Luckily at Purple Moon Design we have plenty in place to ensure disasters like this never strike, and on the off chance that they do, we are always on hand to react quickly and fix the situation.
*Website backup options– Depending on what kind of hosting package you purchase, you might be able to access daily backups of your website which is ideal if a file becomes corrupted or even worse, your website is hacked. When considering hosting providers and the backup options they offer, you want to look for information on how long your backups are stored for and also how often they are created on your behalf. You also want to have the option to understand and learn how to access your backups if required! Again, hopefully it would never happen, but if your website was to be hacked, understanding how this works and having a hosting provider with a user-friendly restoration service will take a lot of the stress away.
At Purple Moon Design, we offer nightly back-up for 30 days. What does this means exactly? Basically a back up is done overnight and we store backups up to 30 days previous. So, for example, if today was the 20th of July, you would have a back up of up-to June 20th. Tomorrow would be back all the way to June 21st and so on. Therefore you don’t have access to just the previous day or week, you have up to a month of back-ups available! Not that we like to show off or anything…
Do you know the saying “nothing is ever truly free”? Well that stands for websites too.
As with most things in life, if it’s too good to be true, it probably is. If you search in any browser ‘web hosting’, or any web development terms, the chances are you will be hit with ‘FREE’ this and ‘FREE’ that. As a business, especially if you are a start up or creating your first website, of course any discounts or freebies will sound like a dream come true. Sadly, the reality is, this isn’t the case 99.9% of the time.
These hosting platforms are very good at wasting your time, allowing you to create this ‘free’ website that they will look after for you… only to try add on all the extras at the last hurdle. These also aren’t extras in the sense that they are optional – more often than not they are actually essential for a successful online business such as SSL certificate, running/supporting your e-mails and more.
These companies rely on people being too exhausted and/or frustrated to go back to the start of their website building journey that they will give in and pay for the extras. A bigger kick in the teeth about these costs are that you are most likely then paying for a very generic, drag and drop website that most of these “free” providers give you – but that is a whole blog in itself.
If you have made it to the end of this introduction to hosting blog, well done! We are impressed. You can continue to find out more in our ‘knowledgebase’ over on Purple Moon Hosting: https://www.purplemoonhosting.co.uk/index.php?rp=/knowledgebase
Do you have a question you can’t find the answer for? No problem! Drop and e-mail to [email protected] and we would be happy to chat.