Small businesses are getting online in droves.
(article continues below)
Recognizing the value of having a presence on the Web, they are spending money and effort to design Web sites that truly represent their companies.
Having created a Web site, business owners then need to find a Web host to upload their Web site so it's available to the world year round 24 hours a day.
We've gathered some excellent tips on choosing an ISP for Web hosting. These tips are compliments of Dotster, a leading provider of Internet business services.
According to Dotster, here are things to consider when trying to find the best Web hosting packages that fully suit a small business owner's needs and goals.
Should You Go With Linux Web Hosting or Windows Web Hosting?
Most Web hosting plans run either Linux or Windows operating systems. Many hosting users won't notice a significant difference between the two.
Linux natively supports many open source applications like the popular blog and content management tools, WordPress and Drupal, which both use the programming language PHP.
Windows hosting plans also recently added support for the PHP language so many open source programs also run comfortably in Windows. Windows hosting can be advantageous for some users because it can run programs created in ASP.NET and PHP on the same platform.
Both operating systems have proven to be equally reliable, and both platforms will support almost all different types of SMB Web sites. The top web hosting firms, including Dotster and others, offer a variety of both Windows-based and Linux-based Web hosting plans.
How Much Bandwidth Does the Hosting Provider Give You?
In Web hosting terms, bandwidth refers to the amount of Internet traffic or visitors a Web site will allow within a set period of time, usually a month.
Different hosting plans carry different bandwidth limits. For most plans, the bandwidth or transfer limit is 500GB (gigabytes) per month. Customers should be aware of how much traffic their Web site receives and plan for unpredictable traffic spikes. As a general rule, it is best to have a generous amount of bandwidth.
How Much Disk Space Do You Get?
The larger the Web site and the more intensive its graphic elements, the more server disk space a Web site requires. A simple Web site might take up 10 MB (megabytes) of space while a sophisticated one might require 20GB or more.
Be sure to choose a plan that has enough storage to handle both a current Web site and any likely future expansion. It's not unusual for a top web hosting company to offer you 50GB of disk space which is a generous amount even for the most demanding and ambitious small business sites.
Can You Get a Virtual Private Server?
A Virtual Private Server (VPS), sometimes referred to as a virtual dedicated server, is technology that partitions a Web hosting server into separate virtual containers. Each virtual container runs its own operating system, mail server, Web server, and software.
VPS hosting gives users the power and flexibility of a dedicated server at just a fraction of the cost. Many businesses prefer a VPS to a dedicated server not only because of VPS affordability but because of the ease in backing up all their data. A VPS container can be backed up and ported to another VPS with little difficulty.
As small businesses learn more about the advantages of VPS hosting, the demand for VPS is expected to overtake the demand for dedicated servers. A VPS is ideal for hosting business Web sites, running a small business or corporate mail system, or even running a series of database-driven online stores.
What's the Email Plan That Comes With Your Hosting Plan?
In addition to their Web site's online store, lead generation, and product information functions, businesses can also use their hosting plans to run their business email.
Small businesses need to make sure their Web hosting plan includes email accounts or provides them for a nominal fee. Look for a hosting plan that offers anywhere from 10 to 150 extra email accounts and includes at least 50MB per mailbox. With extra email accounts, when your business expands, adding additional email accounts for new employees or contract workers will be easy.
What Online Tools Come With the Web Hosting Plan?
Does the Web hosting plan include the ability to easily install popular open source programs like blogs and content management systems? At some point, small businesses may want to set up a blog on their Web site using a program like WordPress.
Look for a plan that includes easy one-click installation of popular open source programs. For example, at Dotster, hosting plans include simple installation of the most popular open source programs.
Final Words of Wisdom on Choosing a Web Hosting Provider
Small and medium sized businesses can find the perfect Web hosting plan and catalyze their e-commerce dreams by asking prospective hosting providers about the features and functionality we've discussed above. There are a few other things you'd do well to ask about, but, with help from our friends over at Dotster, we've covered the main criteria you should be looking at when choosing a Web hosting company.
Although Web hosting services offer a variety of hosting packages, many of the options seem similar among leading providers.
By contemplating these things to consider when choosing a Web hosting service, you can now make a more informed Web hosting decision based upon your Web site's sophistication, its utility and your own requirements for uptime -- the percentage of time that a site is available to be viewed on the Internet.