In 2013, Amazon went dark for 40 minutes, an outage that translated into a $5-million loss in revenue. Even if your website attracts only a smidgen of Amazon’s traffic volume, hosting blips hurt your digital ROI.
Firstly, downtime prevents your website from contributing to your business. Secondly, performance problems affect your Google ranking. This is because web hosting influences:
- Accessibility—search engines penalize websites they cannot crawl successfully;
- Speed—load spikes, brief bandwidth overloads, cause servers to time out or slow down, both of which cause visitors to bounce;
- Security—without the proper server-level protection, your site is susceptible to an array of cyber-attacks.
Regardless the quality of your website, an unreliable web host will render it ineffectual. Worse, the wrong hosting company will lock you into painful (and costly) contracts that limit your website. Even when a company boasts 99.9% uptime or low monthly fees, there are traps to look for, so delve deeply when researching the following criteria.
The expression “you get what you pay for” applies to web hosting. You don’t need the most expensive company, but you should question how discount providers attain such low prices. Sometimes, these low prices are offset by steep add-ons. Other times, the infrastructure is simply cheaper or less stringently maintained. The takeaway: always look for cut corners when bargain-hunting.
Comb the fine print for hidden fees and cancellation stipulations. Most contracts are long-term, especially when involving discounts; you must understand exactly what you’re buying. For example, ask about bandwidth caps, blocked ports and data backup. Similarly, privacy and security matters are crucial, especially for e-commerce, so get more details regarding these areas.
Large corporations use top-notch equipment and have abundant resources in-house. However, they sometimes overload their servers and support departments. Conversely, small hosts often allocate more space per client and offer personable support. Both scenarios come with advantages, so consider how size affects:
- The quality of hardware deployed;
- The ability for growth.
Small businesses don’t necessarily use inferior equipment just as enterprises don’t always scale effectively.
When your website encounters a disruption, you need prompt support. You also want a company that proactively maintains, upgrades and tests its equipment to prevent such problems.
Technical support does not always deal with server issues, though. Account-level problems and administration questions all go through the help desk. How easily you can get in touch with a rep is important.