When your business or organisation needs to host a new website or is looking for a new host for an existing site the chances are you will be looking for a good web host. The question is: what makes a good web host and how do you go about finding one?Posted on 29 December 2015 - Hosting
The most obvious route is to get a recommendation from a friend or professional associate, who might be able to point you in the right direction. This approach has obvious merits as long as you’re certain that your requirements and those of the person you asked for a recommendation have very similar requirements.
If your requirements are different or you’re not sure the recommended web host is the one for you, you might prefer to do further research to help you find the best web host for your organisation’s needs. In order to do that, it will help to build up a profile of what a good web host looks like for you. Here are some of the criteria you will need to consider:
Obviously price is an important factor to all of us before we make a buying decision, but just how important is it to you? Some web hosts pitch themselves purely on their low price. They may be able to offer web hosting for as little as a few pounds a month and might do a very good job for very basic websites.
What could be lacking is the capacity, support or security provisions that might be offered by a web host that doesn’t pitch itself purely in terms of pricing. For example, if your organisation needs infrastructure that can cope with high levels of traffic or needs 24/7 support, it might be cost-effective or even absolutely vital to your business to pay more per month in order to obtain those services.
It is actually really easy to become a web host these day, but it’s much hard to be a good web host. Some of the biggest names in the web hosting sector - often those competing on bargain basement prices, as mentioned above - allow companies to become white label resellers for them.
In other words, you pay Web Hosting Company X but your website is actually hosted on the infrastructure of another web hosting firm. There is nothing wrong with that per se, except there are no guarantees about the technical knowledge of the company with which you’re dealing. After all, they will have had little or nothing to do with the specification or build of the hardware hosting your website.
This could become a problem because your website might not be hosted on a platform that is best suited to your requirements. And it might lead to further frustration in the event that something goes wrong.
That leads us to the support aspect of finding a good web host. At the lower end of the scale, support might be limited to a support ticket system, which will involve leaving a message for the host and waiting for hours or even days for a reply. That can be frustrating, particularly if the reply isn’t satisfactory when it arrives.
If you need something that’s more interactive and a bit quicker, then (as we discussed in the Pricing section) it might be in your organisation’s interest to find a host that offers more comprehensive support. Here are some examples of what that might entail.
Going back to technical expertise briefly, if your organisation doesn’t have the in-house knowledge to be able to support and manage every aspect of your hosting infrastructure, it is advisable to choose a web host that provides that level of support for you.
Never has cybersecurity been a more pressing issue that it is at the moment. Whether it is protecting your website from attack or ensuring the safety of your customers’ data, security is a vital part of web hosting.
It is important to check that any web host you’re thinking of choosing takes security provisions that are in accordance with the requirements of your organisations, its stakeholders and its insurers.
For instance, that might include ensuring that they are accredited for ISO 27001 standards of IT security and IT governance.
Before committing to any web hosting service, you need to know whether the capacity of that platform is sufficient for the requirements of your website. Given the technology afforded by cloud hosting, it is also prudent to opt for an infrastructure with the scalability and flexibility to grow with your website's demands.
Again, choosing a host with strong technical expertise will allow you to consult on these matters before choosing a particular hosting setup.