Question

What are the most common features for website hosting?

In determining which type of hosting account will best fit you and your organization, there are some important features and aspects you’ll want to know as you select your hosting service. While some of these features may be more applicable or important to your organization in comparison to others, it is still important to research and analyze which of these features are a good suit for you and your company’s growth.

  1. User Interface in the Management Console – A web host’s user interface is the software through which users can manage the content of their website. In essence, all web hosts’ user interface has the same function: to simplify the management of your website. Not all interfaces are created equally, however; or, rather, you really have to try a few to find the one you like. You’ll find many web hosts package their hosting with a popular hosting management platform such as cPanel, Virtuozzo or Plesk.
  2. Bandwidth and Disk Space – Bandwidth is the amount of content, usually per month, that users can download from a website. Disk space is the amount of storage space a website’s owner rents from their host. Both of these attributes are very important to consider when starting a website. However, most hosts are willing to offer unlimited bandwidth and disk space for a reasonable price. In most cases, this ‘unlimited’ amount is actually overkill. All but the most popular of websites need as much bandwidth and disk space as they’re renting.
  3. Page Speed Loading – Page Speed Loading is an essential component of any online business, regardless of your product or service. When potential clients visit your site for the first time, they can be immediately turned off if they’re met with a slow loading website. They call this “User Experience” in the web hosting world. As a business owner providing a positive experience should be one of your top priorities. Page Loading Speed also plays a role in the SEO rankings and e-Commerce of your website. Your page will rank higher if it loads faster, and transactions will take place more seamlessly.
  4. Server Compatibility – When you’re searching for a new web host, you’ll undoubtedly encounter a somewhat intimidating section on compatibility in each host’s sales pitch. The first thing to keep in mind when considering this facet of web development is that more compatibility is better. At first, you may not know what things like PHP5 or MySQL are. But, as you learn that PHP5 is a highly useful, general-purpose scripting language made specifically for web development and that MySQL is an equally useful, open-source database management system, you’ll soon also find that there are many other languages and tools to learn and use. You’ll realize that compatibility is a good thing. If you’re new to understanding compatibility, a good place to start is WordPress. WordPress is a very popular development tool that combines PHP5 and MySQL into one easy-to-use interface.
  5. Knowledge & Technical Requirements – Speaking of those other languages and tools, there are other technical aspects to consider when choosing a new web host. If you are a more technically savvy web developer, you might want to look into whether a potential host is compatible with a certain UI you like to use or even if they offer one. Fans of cPanel should also make sure that it will work. And for those gurus who’ll need to enable root access to an SSH server…well, you probably already know which hosts make this easy and which do not.
  6. Support Options – While it may seem redundant to address the importance of good customer support to a fledgling, online entrepreneur, it is worth mentioning so that it’s not forgotten between everything else. Web hosts advertise “Outstanding 24/7/365 Customer Support” but this isn’t always true. Some hosts have good support, some do not. What is important is finding a host that provides consistent support in the method that you prefer, whether via phone, email or chat.
  7. Backup and Recovery – Along with customer support, the savvy web developer must also consider things like backup and recovery and the all too common hidden fee. Creating a website can be a ton of work, and backing it up is always a good idea. Before signing up with a host, it’s important to consider whether they’ll be backing up your content or if you’ll need to do this on your own. Aspects like this are often found in a web host’s fine print, alongside the ever-asterisked hidden fee. A web host’s front page marketing material can often be deceiving, so do your research.
  8. Infrastructure Upgrades – When thinking about something as ‘virtual’ as the internet, it’s easy to forget that there is actual hardware behind each system making it run. That being said, it is essential to remember that the web host you choose is only as powerful as its infrastructure can allow. To find a host with solid and evolving infrastructure, research the host’s history. A history of consistent infrastructure upgrading can usually be extrapolated into the future. Taking into account the web host’s own popularity and growth can also be an effective way to increase your own, by ensuring that you’ll be running on the most up-to-date hardware.
  9. Host Uptime – One of the most important, and often taken for granted, aspects of a good web host is website uptime. To conduct successful e-Commerce, a website must be available for customers to view and use. At this point, most web hosts offer something like a “99.9% Uptime Guarantee,” but it is still important to find a host whose guarantee is legitimate.
  10. Website Security – Those who start an online business have two sides of security to consider when choosing a new web host, their customers’ and their own. People who buy things online need to know that their transaction is secure. Web hosts know this and often charge extra to provide your website with a ‘Security Certificate.’ Unfortunately, this extra fee is often just the cost of doing business. Making sure that your web host is a legitimate organization that can be trusted with your information is also an important part of web host selection. For most big-name web hosts, this shouldn’t be a problem; but, if you’re trying to save money by using some obscure host, you might run into some problems.
  11. Multiple Domains – When you start an online business, your domain – mybusiness.com, for example – will for all intents and purposes be your name. Many basic hosting packages will only allow for a single domain on one account, and it is important to consider whether you’ll need more than one. The answer to this question will depend on your business model. A lot of hosts will try to persuade you to buy multiple top-level domains – for example, mybusiness.com, mybusiness.net, mybusiness.biz – to increase your online presence. This is not a terrible idea, but it may not be a profitable one especially if you’re just starting out.
  12. Subdomains – Also worth considering is the aspect of subdomain limitation. A subdomain is a page of your website – for example, about.mybusiness.com. Some hosts will limit your subdomain quantity while some will not. The type of host you will need depends on the amount of web space you require. It’s good to have room to grow, but it’s unwise to pay for space you don’t need.
  13. FTP / SSH Developer access – FTP, or File Transfer Protocol, is a standard web development method for transferring files from one location to another. It plays an important role whether you are developing your website on your own or you are outsourcing some of the workload to another developer. SSH, or Secure Shell Protocol, also allows devices to communicate with one another over a network. Having the ability to seamlessly transfer files between accounts, computers or online archives might not seem like a big deal when you’re just starting out on your laptop. But, as your business grows, you’ll find that having a host with good FTP and SSH capabilities makes life a whole lot easier.
  14. Email accounts – Whether your online business is a one-man show or you’ll be starting right out of the gate with 23 employees, you’re going to want the ability to create unlimited email accounts. Having no limit will allow you to remain organized and will facilitate growth. Having to worry about how many inboxes you can have should be the least of your worries, and any host who does not offer unlimited email in even its most basic package is simply not worth your time.
  15. Dedicated IP Address – A dedicated IP address is also known as a fixed or static IP because it is only used by one user instead of a group. When an IP address is shared by more than one, this is called a shared IP address. A shared IP address can come with drawbacks such as a lack of security for your personal files. With a dedicated IP address, you won’t have to worry about this. When using a dedicated IP address, you get a few benefits including less downtime on the server, remote access, a professional website and search engine visibility. Your dedicated IP address also makes you e-commerce ready, which means that if all of your products are sold online, you have already taken one major step toward setting up your store.
  16. SSL Certificates – SSL Certificates are important for keeping track of multiple documents. They are small data files that are designed to digitally bind a cryptographic key to an organization’s information. If an SSL Certificate is used on a web server, it triggers the padlock and HTTPS procedure to allow secure connections from the web server to the browser. The main use of an SSL is to secure credit card information and online transactions, logins, data transfers and more.
  17. Premium DNS – DNS refers to the important link that makes sure your website won’t crash unexpectedly while people are trying to access it. Premium DNS is the latest DNS form that keeps your website secure, online and running smoothly. When using Premium DNS, you can manage limitless DNS records, monitor your web-based control panel and even access templates that apply common configurations.
  18. One-Click Installer – One-click installs are programs and applications that can be installed in web panels. Programs can take a long time o install which can really slow you down when working. With a one-click installer, you can add programs like WordPress, Moodle, MediaWiki and more in no time at all. Some web hosting services offer their own panels and one-click installers as well as a library of apps and programs to choose from.
  19. cPanel – cPanel is a web hosting control panel that is designed to simplify the task of hosting a website. cPanel accomplishes this by providing a graphical crossing point and automation tools that can be used to organize your website’s data in designated areas. cPanel has a 3-tier structure that gives administrators, resells and end-user website owners the ability to control the different aspects of a website and server administration through a regular web browser.
  20. Free Ad Credits – Advertising credits (Ad credits) are how you promote your website. Ad credits can be obtained from sites like Google, Yahoo and even Facebook. Free ad credits can be found on sites like Vexxhost and Go Daddy where customer discounts, offers and other great deals are available.
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