Overview of the Web Hosting Sector
If you are looking for some web space for your company website there are thousands of web hosting companies from which to choose. Choosing the right web hosting company and the right type of hosting is an important business decision for owners of small firms. Customers expect your website to be online and do not always have the patience to wait when hosting goes down. Web hosting is a computer service that involves the uploading and management of web pages, images and company documents to a commercial hosting server. Most hosting packages sold on an annual basis.
A basic reseller web hosting package tends to be a shared Windows or Linux hosting service, where websites literally share the hard disk of the hosting companies server. As part of the service, most hosting companies offer clients an online support control panel. This enables the client access to their partitioned web space to manage technical functions such as domain name settings (DNS), pop3 email, file transfer protocol (ftp), password access, manage web files, and alter web server settings. It may all seem a bit daunting for non IT-literate business owners, who may instead get their web design consultant to sort out any hosting issues.
Despite its low-cost nature, opting for the cheapest annual package can sometimes be a false economy. The cost of unplanned downtime can be catastrophic to a business that relies heavily upon their website to obtain new business sales leads or communicate with customers in an online forum. Most shared hosting is based abroad due to lower infrastructure costs. However, choosing a hosting company in the country in which you operate your business has the advantage of time zone correlation for support questions. It also helps search engines understand a business' preferred geographic market.
Many medium or large companies sign up with a business hosting provider that can offer a dedicated server solution. This is most appropriate where the requirement dictates almost continuous uptime, large bandwidth and disk space to cope with high visitor volumes and growth. A dedicated service operates in a mission-critical data-centre environment where technical support staff are on-call around the clock. This premium service ensures users can log a call and escalate it through a professional support process. If you're looking for dedicated server for your business, you may discover many IT services are included, whereas other computer services are paid optional extras. For example, server monitoring bandwidth provisioning, backup and restore and installation of third-party software scripts may all be available but at an extra cost.
When choosing a business hosting provider, the general rule of thumb is 'you get what you pay for'. With this in mind, query with the hosting companies sales representative regarding the existence of any any service level agreements attached to a hosting package. This may offer a guaranteed financial penalty (paid from the provider to a client) should the level of uptime not meet an agreed service level. This 'confidence boosting' element of the hosting agreement demonstrates the providers concern and focus on reliability and flexibility. Ask potential suppliers whether or not they own their own data centres. Many hosting companies lease shared or co-located servers from data centres located overseas. This means the UK reseller hosting company may have little or no control over security issues, staffing resources, hardware failures and software updates.
Some hosting providers provide a cloud-based or virtual dedicated server (VPS). This means customers can scale the level of bandwidth, web space and network resources consumed based on changing business needs. Virtualisation can provide the scalability and flexibility in situations where a website is likely to grow rapidly, or experience high peaks and troughs of unique visitors.
For non-business websites, many business bloggers have turned to Internet service providers to access free web space. This is not really appropriate for a small or medium-sized enterprise because it looks unprofessional (as the web address is usually a sub domain of the ISP combined with a blogging account name). Similarly, if you are seeking low-cost Windows business hosting, be extremely careful not to give away control of the domain name settings of your domain name to a web designer or hosting company you do not fully trust. You may find switching providers in the future entails a hefty termination fee, or that you lose control over your own website altogether! We hope these tips have been useful in your search for a web hosting company.