Q&A: The right web hosting for your business

Plan your hosting before you start building your websiteFinding the right web hosting is a crucial part of building and launching a website for your business.

However, many companies leave the decision till last, then plump for the cheapest option.

Craig Sharp, founder of IT support firm Abussi, explains why you should consider your web hosting options early on

Why does your choice of web hosting matter so much?

“Nowadays, your web presence is just as important as any form of bricks and mortar you have for your business. Yet companies seem to give a very poor level of consideration to developing their online presence."

"If you don’t think all aspects of it through from the start, you leave yourself open to problems later on.”

What’s the difference between domain hosting and web hosting?

“Domain name hosting just gives you somewhere to keep your domain name - like www.yourbusiness.co.uk – so you can get it to work with your website. It doesn’t give you anything else.”

“It’s a good idea to secure your domain name first, then worry about creating your website.”

“Web hosting is the hosting you need to actually make your website work. It’s where all your website files live, so people can access them online."

"You can use domain hosting and web hosting together – your domain hosting enables you to point your domain name to your web hosting.”

What are the web hosting options for a new small business website?

“There are three main ways to do things. First of all, you can go down the self-service route, where you manage your web hosting yourself. This is cheap – it’ll cost you under £10 a month for a good, basic web hosting package – but you need to be aware of the issues that can crop up.”

“You have to deal with all the technicalities of getting the site up and running. You’ll be solely responsible for it, and will have to fix any issues or problems. I wouldn’t exclude it as an option, but be aware that it can be time-consuming and you need technical skills.”

“However, if you’re a new start-up or a micro-business and all you need is a straightforward web presence, like a site with a few pages, there are a number of providers out there who offer web hosting services which include website editing products.”

“These are called ‘sitebuilder’ packages. For around £10 - £20 a month you get a system that hides the technical stuff. It’s like a word processor – you can drag pictures in, change colours and use a template. Getting your site live is as simple as pressing ‘publish’.”

“Services are available from companies like 1&1, 123-reg, Fasthosts, Heart Internet and Basekit. But although they’re good if you want a simple website, many businesses outgrow them pretty quickly.”

“For them, the third option can be best. That’s finding someone to build a website for you, then asking them to recommend a hosting service. Basic, straightforward hosting is not expensive, so it’ll probably be £10 - £20 a month on top of the web design charges.”

“If they’ve recommended the hosting, they probably already have experience of using it. And you can be sure it has all the services your website needs.”

“You end up with a situation where your website is being designed and managed by the same person. Prices vary a lot, but professional websites start at around £1,500. If you have this sort of money to spend, it’s probably the best option.”

Are there any security issues to be aware of with these approaches?

“If you’re relying on someone else to manage your website, make sure you retain overall control. Get a proper contract in place - make sure you retain ownership over everything and know what all the passwords are.”

“Keep control of your domain name too. This allows you to maintain control of what’s going on. I don’t want to be negative, but if ever you fall out with the supplier, you can always point the domain name somewhere else. You’ll retain control, even in a disaster!”

“Additionally, lots of companies don’t know who their domain hosting is with, especially if it’s separate to their web hosting. Domain hosting is a really important business service, so you need to know who to call if something goes wrong with it!”

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