How to choose the best web hosting option for your company’s needs Featured

7:26am EDT February 1, 2013
How to choose the best web hosting option for your company’s needs

It’s tempting to always want the latest technology for your business, but it’s more important to determine what you actually need in a Web hosting service before rushing after the flavor of the moment.

“Cloud service is the way the market is going because it’s efficient and effective. But it doesn’t make sense to push everyone to the cloud. A local pizza shop that has only 1,000 visitors to its site each month could go with a $4 per month hosting package on a shared server that will fit their needs very well and they’ll be very happy with it,” says Ryan Niddel, CEO of Brain Host.

Smart Business spoke with Niddel about what to consider when selecting a Web hosting service.

What’s the first step a business should take when shopping for a Web hosting service?

The first step is to research the type of hosting services available, and then evaluate your needs. Hosting services are predicated on a few key performance indicators from your site’s traffic: the number of visitors, the bandwidth necessary to accommodate the amount of traffic on the site and your anticipated growth plans for the site. Choose a hosting solution that reflects your company’s goals.

What hosting options are available, and how do you know which is right for your business?

The focus is on need, but your budget is always a consideration. To host a small business site for a mom-and-pop pizza store, you could comfortably utilize a shared hosting environment for $4 to $15 a month.

From there, you jump up to a virtual private server (VPS) solution, which is having a piece of a server configured only for you and your business. It’s as if you’re the sole owner of a quarter of a box and you can do whatever you want with it — you own all the bandwidth and all the metrics.

Then you can upgrade to a dedicated server — basically the entire box. It’s ideal for larger, traffic-heavy sites or for someone who wants to segment out their own box and resell pieces of it.

Finally, there’s the environment where much of the world is headed, which is the cloud. It’s fully scalable and accessible in real-time, so the amount of bandwidth you need can actually be adjusted at any given point throughout the day, week or month. You pay only for what you use — no more and no less.

In a VPS situation, if you’re using more service than you purchased, it can take several days or even several weeks to increase the amount of traffic you can send to your site. Cloud hosting allows you to simply turn a virtual knob on a screen, and all of a sudden, you have all the bandwidth you need.

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How do you know which Web hosting service is going to have less downtime?

Everyone providing a Web hosting service is going to promise you the world and it’s going to be tough to for them to deliver it. The best way to know for sure is to ask where their servers are located and what contingency plan is in place when problems arise.

You want someone with a clear plan and a cascading effect. If the main servers on the Eastern Seaboard go down, the hosting company should be able to recognize that and then quickly  switch to an alternate server. Or in the event that there is a power outage, the minute that power goes out, a backup generator or another server should instantly kick back on in another part of the world, leaving you with only a few seconds of interrupted service. It should be an automated process, rather than one that requires people to monitor the servers and physically flip switches behind the scenes.

The red flag for a Web host is lack of transparency. If they refuse tell you what they do and how they do it, then it will difficult to believe that they will be able to deliver on all that they are promising.

Ryan Niddel is the CEO of Brain Host. Reach him at (419) 631-1270 or ryan@brainhost.com.

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