Hosting your site with a good hosting service provider can make all the difference between success and failure in any online venture. It is not a good idea to cut corners and cut costs in choosing an reliable hosting, because your business on the Internet rests in their hands. It is well worth both time and effort to choose carefully.
If you are going to run your own web site then you will need access to a server system, this is a computer system where your web site is actually stored and which is connected to the internet. Thus enabling any Internet user to download your web pages. The question facing an online business is whether to invest a lot of money and have your own server, or whether to rent space on someone else’s server, the so called hosting option.
Setting up your own dedicated server is expensive, you will be looking at a minimum capital expenditure of about £1000 – £5000 annually for the server, software etc. plus annual running costs of maybe £1000 to cover maintenance etc. However, you do have the advantage of having total control over your system and how you use it, and there is always the potential to offer hosting services to other web site owners.
By far the easiest, and cheapest, option for most businesses seeking to go online is to use a shared hosting service where you will share a server with a number of other web sites. Web site hosting is now a very competitive market and there are literally hundreds of companies trying to convince you to use their service.
Web hosting companies can be divided into two broad categories, those who offer free web space, and those who charge a subscription. Tempting as the thought of free web space may be, the free option is best avoided if you intend to set up a serious online business. This is because companies offering such facilities usually impose numerous limitations on the use of the web site, such as not allowing you to have your own domain name, charging heavily for overseas e-mail, and may even prohibit the use of the web space for commercial purposes.
The best option for a professional business web site is to use a managed VPS hosting service which usually have none of the limitations that are imposed on web space usage by the free hosting providers. Typically such a subscription service will cost about £200 – £500 per annum. With a VPS hosting aimed at the business market you will also get full access to your virtual server, and be able to use a range of scripts and tools.
There are still a lot of business oriented VPS providers to choose from, and selecting the right one is very important, changing your hosting at a later date can be messy, expensive, and damaging to the online business. Once again in making the choice do not use price as the main criteria, instead look at the performance they offer. You can read reviews published by several hosting comparison websites. Data such as uptime, and server speed are very important since you want your site to be available at all times and for pages to load quickly. Also check what hardware and software they are using, at the moment it is probably best to choose Linux systems, particularly when it comes to adding e-commerce and online credit card payment facilities.
Another factor which need checking when selecting a business hosting is available bandwidth, most hosting companies limit the amount of data which can be transferred their server and Internet users. Thus a service offering a bandwidth allocation of 2Gigabytes per month would allow Internet users to download over 100,000 pages of your site, given an average page size of 20Kbytes. If your site proves to be very popular, or you are using a lot of large graphics images then you could easily exceed your bandwidth allocation, this will result in an additional charge by your hosting company.
Once you have found two or three likely hosting companies, visit their web sites. See how long they have been established, check their terms and conditions, and see if they publish a list of web sites hosted by them, if they host a few big sites this is always a good guarantee that they are reliable, and likely to be around in a year or two.