You have just had a website designed by your best friend, but now what? If the web hosting company is cheap, what should you look out for? How can you tell if a web hosting company is reliable? By the way, a web hosting company is one that has storage space on its server for your website, and a server is a computer. Let us read on and find out more about the answers.
Some web hosting companies may be misleading because when their clients sign up for free trials, they end up paying huge amounts for the renewal part. Make sure that the web hosting company has not signed you up for some web or software trial. Tread carefully, and do research before you make that click.
It does happen that hosting fees are so little because the web hosting company has just too many websites all sharing the same server. This, in turn, means that each website does not have access to the necessary resources, causing more frequent downtimes, when your website is inaccessible to the public via the internet browsers. Downtime means the computer system is not in use.
Downtimes must be seen in a serious light, as they, potentially, can cause significant losses in business. In addition, some people may not visit your website again, because of its unreliability. The recommended uptime should be 99.5%, but anything below 99% is not acceptable. A score of 99% means that the web hosting company experienced a total downtime of 7 hours in one month. A 60-minute downtime in a 30-day month translates to 99.86% uptime.
So how can you track uptimes of a web hosting company? Uptime is when the computer system is working.
You can try and find out from regular reviews done on various web hosting companies, or use server monitor tools to see what a web hosting company is up to. Most of such tools are free.
Although rather rare today, some cheap web hosting companies are not sufficiently protected from spammers, which use up their servers’ resources that are actually meant for websites. A spammer is someone who sends trivial or unwanted messages over the Internet. In addition, if the hosting company gets infected with a computer virus via another website on its server, your website may well get infected.
Some cheap web hosting companies may not have enough funds to provide the required technical support to their clients, and thus make sure before you join, that this is not the case. In addition, it is vital that the host control panel is user-friendly and has all the required functions. Without this, one may have to be too dependent on technical support. A control panel is used for making the process of hosting a website easier.
If you think that your website will expand significantly over the next couple of years, which would require more web hosting resources, then it will be best to be with a web hosting company that allows you to upgrade, and potentially switch from a shared hosting server to a VPS / virtual private server or a dedicated server. A shared hosting server is when many websites share one server; VPS is a virtual machine with its own operating system, which has the equivalent functionality of a dedicated server but is arguably easier to configure; and a dedicated server only has one client with no one sharing.
Because domain names are generally cheap, most people may own five or more domains. This, in turn, means extra host space is needed, and it’s thus best to choose a web hosting company account that permits the addition of multiple domains. In other words, check the domain capacity of the web hosting company concerned. A domain is an area of the Internet where addresses for web servers / web pages share the same suffix e.g. xyz.com.
Make sure that if you leave your web hosting company within a trial period, it will refund you the whole amount. What about a web hosting company’s refund policy after the trial period, and are there any cancellation charges?
A web hosting company needs to provide basic technical features, which you or your technical expert who is working on your website might use, such as Cron, a software environment update scheduling tool used for daily operations, Auto Script Installer to facilitate web application installations and updates, htaccess availability for security and page redirect reasons, Server Side Include (SSI) to facilitate site maintenance, and FTP access for efficient file transfer.
In addition, a web hosting company must be able to provide e-commerce support, if you are running, for instance, an e-commerce website. e-Commerce refers to commercial transactions done electronically on the Internet.
It can happen from time to time that a website crashes, or is attacked by some hacker, or a server experiences hard disk failure. So, it is important to determine if the web hosting company does regular backups, and has the required procedures in place.
In the end, it is more important to have a reliable web hosting company, which may be slightly more expensive, than a cheap web hosting company, which may cost you dearly in the end, because it has compromised on critical services to save funds. However, that is not to say that any cheap web hosting company is unreliable – it may be cheap because it is a large web hosting company such as Afrihost (economies of scale), or it may be making use of Linux web hosting, which is cheaper than Windows web hosting.
The approach should be to go for cheap web hosting rates, but, at the same time, ensure that you can tick all the boxes regarding the minimum web hosting requirements as mentioned above. If all the required standards are in place, then cheap rates are justified, and it would be safe for you to proceed. You cannot compromise on web hosting quality, for the sake of obtaining cheap web hosting rates. Afrihost sums it up well, by saying that if they did offer the cheapest of rates, they would have to compromise on reliability by reducing, for instance, technical support, and bandwidth.
Websites such as Web Hosting provide a list of South African web hosting companies and their monthly rates, from which you may choose a web hosting company that suits your needs and pocket, bearing in mind that the company you choose must have an excellent reputation. Take Afrihost, for example. Because it is large, it can provide competitive prices, all the while maintaining high standards. Do you have more questions? Feel free to contact us or read our Web Hosting FAQs.