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[ 0 ] Oct. 1, 2012 | SBO Editor

Questions for the CEO: how to choose a web host.

By Oliver Mauss, CEO 1&1 Internet, Inc.

What is a Web host?

Web hosting companies provide businesses with all the tools necessary to start, grow and maintain and online presence. When a business wants to create a website, for example, they must find a reliable Web host which they can “rent” online space from. Hosts operate with the support of powerful data centers consisting of servers, which the website is housed on. State of the art technology will keep the data and website safe with optimal uptime.

Some Web hosts offer a wide range of services and products ranging from more basic website design packages and online marketing services, to more complex solutions like cloud servers and dedicated servers. Each business requires a different solution depending on their individual requirements and type of business. Be sure to investigate all packages in order to choose the correct one.

Is a small or large host better?

There are differences in the services provided by small and large Web hosts and choosing the right one for your business depends on your specific hosting needs.  A larger host can offer experience and a full understanding of the needs and wants of their customers. Additionally, they may have a variety of different products and services to fit the needs of a broader range of businesses. This works to advantage of many customers because if they decide to add upon their current plans, upgrade or downgrade, it can be accomplished easily. Larger hosts are also likely to operate with their own state-of-the-art data center which can ensure enhanced security and reliability.

There are, of course, smaller hosts that provide good services. However, lager Web hosts will have greater experience, technical resources, infrastructure and financial stability. In a currently unregulated market, anyone can set themselves up as a Web host. Therefore, it is important to investigate and ask questions before you buy.

Are there technical features of hosting packages that I should know?

All businesses should investigate the more technical features that may be offered by their Web host. For example, unlimited space will allow you to add as many pages and as much content as you feel necessary to your website.

Some larger hosting providers will provide geo-redundant hosting. With this, all data and applications are mirrored synchronously and stored in different geographical locations. Should there be an unexpected problem on one server location; measures are immediately taken to have the data automatically switched to run off of the alternate hardware in a separate site.

Additionally, ensure that your hosting provider offers an optimal connection. Research shows that US consumers are unforgiving of slow websites. Therefore, it is imperative that you choose a hosting provider that offers you a quick website speed.

Packages vary in price according to space, databases, domain names, and storage, to name a few. However, you should also be thinking about the whole online solution which can also include tools for advertising, SEO, ecommerce, and site analytics.

Though the technical aspects of a hosting package may be unfamiliar, it is important to acquire a basic understanding of what features you may commit to.

How should I select a package on a limited budget?

Affordability is an important factor when choosing a Web host, especially those businesses who only have limited budgets for their online efforts.  Make a list of the goals and ideal features of your hosting package and use it to compare different hosting plans. This will help to ensure that all the necessary requirements of your hosting experience are met. Remember that the most expensive provider will not necessarily give you the most and best features.

Some businesses may require a more complex solution to handle a large amount of traffic or storage space. In this case, they should explore cloud solutions. Cloud products allow business administrators to configure technical features like Hard Disk space, RAM and CPU to their needs at any time. This is an ideal solution for seasonal businesses that demand flexibility.

Can anyone create a Web presence?

Many businesses are hesitant to get online as they often do not know where to start or what they should include in their website. Luckily, there are website design tools that businesses can use to help jump-start their online presence. 1&1’s MyWebsite, for example, offers more than 200 industry designs complete with industry-specific content and images to get online. The content and navigation is optimized for each industry providing uncertain businesses with ideas of how to organize and construct their site. Because the tool is not software, users can access and edit the site at anytime, anywhere as long as they have an internet connection.

In order to take a business a step further, consider options to build credibility and visibility. Credibility of a business can be achieved by utilizing the tools offered by your hosting provider. Email accounts specific to your domain, for example, should be used for all business communication. This will illustrate more professionalism and expertise than one from a common email provider.  Also explore eMarketing tools to accompany your email and generate interest around your business.

About 1& 1 Internet

Founded in 1988, 1&1 Internet is a leader amongst the largest Web hosting providers. Internationally, 1&1 maintains approximately 11 million contracts with both consumer and business users and has registered more than 11 million domain names. It operates 5 highly-secure, green data centers housing 70,000 servers that process over 5 billion monthly emails.

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Category: Magazine, Small Business Opportunities, Small Business Opportunities Jan 2013