How to Choose the Best Hosting Service for Your Small Business

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Are you pulling your hair out trying to decide what type of web hosting is right for you or your business? You are not alone. Many individuals and businesses struggle with choosing a web host, because it can be confusing to the average user, not to mention it is a very daunting task. Be that as it may, it is crucial to find a good and compatible web host, because your website will not be successful without it. There are various types of web hosting to choose from and deciding which one to go with depends on the type of website you have, how much bandwidth is needed, and the different functions you will want for your site.

Shared Hosting versus Dedicated Server Hosting

With shared hosting, your website is one of many sites on the web host’s servers, and each site is on its own partition to separate it from other sites. You are responsible for the content, the service provider handles the rest – bandwidth, setting up the server, backups, security, updates, etc. Many small business and blog owners choose this, because it is the most economical. You pay a small monthly or yearly fee to use their equipment, and the service providers will handle the technical issues.

There are a few drawbacks to shared hosting, however. Each plan will have some limitations such as bandwidth and the amount of disk space you get. And because you are sharing a server, busier websites might possibly wreak havoc on your site’s performance. Also, you have to worry about your site crashing if the provider’s resources are overloaded. It is wise to choose a provider who has a good uptime percentage of, say 99%, because the less downtime, the better. Visitors to your site will not come back if it is continually down.

Dedicated server hosting is typically used by larger websites who receive a lot of traffic on a regular basis. With this type of hosting, an organization can lease an entire server without having to share it with others. Therefore, the organization has complete control over that server. There are no bandwidth limitations, your site is more secure, and it will perform better because your site is the only one on it.

Reseller Hosting versus Virtual Private Server

Reseller hosting is a great way to start a hosting business. With this type of hosting, a reseller can purchase web space from a web hosting company, and then sell it for revenue. A reseller is a person who acts as a representative of a web hosting company. Customers then pay a monthly fee to the reseller. The main advantage to reseller hosting is that you are using an established service and network, which means the configuration is already in place, and everything has been tried and tested.

Virtual Private Server (VPS) is a virtual server that is installed on a computer serving multiple websites. It is ideal for small businesses, and functions like a separate physical computer. VPS will contribute the same CPU and RAM, but will not share them with anyone else. When you purchase VPS, you get a machine that can reboot anytime you want without affecting other sites.

Cloud Hosting versus Free Domain Hosting

If you need a lot of processing power, then cloud hosting is for you. A cloud-hosted website operates on a massive infrastructure, instead of one server like with traditional hosting. Processing power is limitless. Because of hardware updates, load balancing, and more, you can expand your website with few inhibitions.

A big plus to cloud hosting is cost. Cloud hosting companies bill users based on the amount of computing power depleted, so they can get what they want without the worry of a huge expense.

However, the disadvantage to cloud hosting is security. For example, in May 2009, Google suffered a major outage. Businesses that relied on its numerous applications were unable to function without them. In addition, it gave hackers a better understanding of the damage they could do if they worked better at it.

Free domain hosting is just that – it is free hosting. Many hosting companies offer free domain hosting, because it allows users to host their website at no extra cost to them. The drawback to this, however, is that the hosting company has the right to put ads on your website for revenue, and that can be a big annoyance to visitors. Free domain hosting works best for personal blogs or websites.

What to Look for in a Business Hosting Service

Once you have narrowed down the type of hosting service that works best for your business, it’s time to compare and contrast different providers. When evaluating a hosting provider, here are some of the key factors to keep in mind:  

  • Bandwidth. Unfortunately, bandwidth with a business hosting service is a lot like data on a mobile phone plan. Many providers claim to offer “unlimited” bandwidth, when what they really mean is “more bandwidth than we estimate you will use.” In fact, most unlimited hosting plans actually do have bandwith limits in the fine print. Look for specific estimates and terms related to CPU usage, and ask specific questions about what will happen if your site experiences a sudden spike in traffic.  
  • Server space. Look for a web hosting provider that gives your business room to grow, without charging you for space you don’t need. Cloud hosting can often offer more flexible options regarding space and storage needs with easier implementation.
  • Ecommerce hosting. If you are running an eCommerce site, you have special needs for business hosting. Ecommerce requires greater security for your business and the customer, and the wide variety of eCommerce tools (shopping carts, payment processing, inventory management, etc) require more bandwidth and can potentially slow down your site. For an eCommerce online business, choose a specialized eCommerce host with an advanced content delivery network, SSL protection, PCI compliance, protection from DDoS attacks and spam, regular backups, and excellent uptime.
  • Domains. Many online entrepreneurs require not just a single domain for their business. You may want to also register related domains, specialized domains, or domains for each of your endeavors. Look for a hosting provider that offers unlimited domains and domain names with fast, easy domain registration.
  • Email accounts. Naturally you and your staff will need specialized email accounts for your business, and for any related domains you may register. Look for simple email registration for as many accounts as you need, and easy email functionality, including email forwarding.
  • Backups. Your site needs regular backups in case of a crash or emergency. Look for a hosting provider that offers daily backups. You may also want to find a web host with manual backup capability, so you can make your own backups and protect yourself if you are making major changes or updates to your site and online services.
  • Security. Web security has two aspects: digital security that protects your data from hackers, spam, malware, data loss, and other issues; and physical security that protects servers from power shortages, natural disasters, fire, and other hazards. When choosing a web hosting provider for your online business, ask detailed questions about both types of security to make sure your data is protected.
  • Customer service. A good web host is like a business partner, and you will be working together for years to come. Look for a company with a great reputation for service, a robust online help center, and fast response times to inquiries. Remember that companies are often fast to respond when making a sale, and slower to respond when requesting support. You may also want to consider which communication channels you prefer: do you want to make phone calls, chat, text, or communicate socially? Does your provider offer fast response times for your preferred communication methods?
  • Uptime guarantee. Many hosting providers claim “100% uptime”, and, again, it’s worth looking at the fine print. Few hosts can demonstrate uptime higher than 99%, and it’s always a good idea to look for an uptime guarantee. Will the host compensate you for unplanned downtime?

Choosing the right online business hosting provider is essential for providing the best experience for you and your customers, and the life of your business may rely on it. Keeping these factors in mind will help you make the right choice for every stage of your business.


If you are finding it difficult to decide which type of web hosting is for you, make sure that what you choose is compatible for you and your site’s needs. Cost, security issues, bandwidth, processing power, etc. all play a part in your decision. Do not settle for less than what is best for your site. Good hosting is necessary for its longevity and success.

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