When starting a business one of the first things to do is arrange your website hosting, if you are going the DIY that is.

If you are getting a professional to pull together your website, it’s likely they’ll sort this for you.

A word to the wise on this point before we move on, you must ensure the developer gives you the hosting/FTP/Cpanel username and password so you can access the account yourself. If they don’t, and you lose contact with them you won’t be able to take possession of your website and that will bad, bad, bad.

Now, if you google ‘hosting’ try not to feel faint from the overwhelm of hosting providers to choose from.

So how do you know which one to choose? And how do you ensure you aren’t one of the suckers getting ripped off by paying way too much for what you, as a small business owner needs?

And how do you ensure you aren’t one of the suckers getting ripped off by paying way too much for what you, as a small business owner needs?

Let’s break it down into questions you should be asking:

What type of hosting package do I need?

Generally speaking, for a start-up business, you can get away with the lowest package available. Then there is only up!

As an example, Site Grounds introductory package starts at just $3.95 a month for a one-year package.  They also offer a free domain when you purchase one of their plans so they make up for it.

Typically, these plans are best suited to beginner businesses who don’t anticipate significant traffic or have heavy e-commerce websites with 100’s of products.

What are their existing customers saying?

Customer feedback is a great way to get an idea of whether a hosting provider offers an outstanding service or a dud service. You want to be checking places where they can’t manufacture the feedback as any fly-by-night host can write their own testimonials and whack it up on their website. I’d check our their Facebook page first and then do a google and see if there are any mentions of them in some online forums.

Do they offer 24/7 live chat or phone support?

Even once you’ve been doing this for a while and know your stuff having a web host with a live 24/7 live chat is invaluable.

That’s because stuff will go wrong, it will happen completely out of your control and a website that has issues is not a good look so it needs to be fixed A-SAP. Getting super quick support via live chat (which I prefer) or phone when your website is down or misbehaving will go a long way towards saving face and minimizing any potential damage to your business.

Look for web hosts that provide 24/7 phone support, email access and online chat and before purchasing test them out.

If they can’t provide an efficient service even in the sales process I would bet they offer a pretty dire service.

What’s their deal with storage and bandwidth?

You may be wondering what the hell this means but, in a nutshell ensuring you pick the plan with sufficient storage and bandwidth means your website will have enough space to operate effectively. I am seeing starter plans offering unlimited options which will make things nice and easy.

How easy is it to install scripts?

One last element to consider is the hosting company’s built-in support for popular web scripts, like WordPress.

Some hosts, like Site Ground, make the installation of scripts super easy and nothing more than a one click setup and others have left me close to tears in frustration.

I’ve used Site Ground in these examples because they are the hosting provider I have used for all my websites.

I’d say I’ve setup over 70 hosting accounts in my years of being a website designer and have tried lots of different ones.


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