Every business or entrepreneurial endeavor needs sturdy foundations to rely upon—and for ecommerce or online business ventures, the foundations of the business website is website hosting. Web hosting should be at the top of your list of agendas when planning for a business website as it is one of the most important. So, what is website hosting?
What is Web Hosting?
Most web designers will tell you, website hosting, in a nutshell, is a service provided by specialized firms or companies where they "host" your website for you, meaning you do not have to store everything in your own computers. Some of the most popular web hosting services providers includes BlueHost, HostGator, and GoDaddy. Of course, the range and breadth of providers are simply vast—from established companies that host large website networks to smaller scale companies that focus on specific types of websites. For the most part, finding affordable web hosting is pretty straightforward if you only wish to put up a personal blog or website, especially if you do so through WordPress or Blogger or some other similar service. These services often partner up with one or several recommended web hosting providers that have features and functionalities perfectly suited for the task. For more on this check out the blog
For entrepreneurs that need something bigger, better, and more specific for their business website (as many ecommerce websites require specific and specialized features that their web host will need to accommodate), they need to shortlist a few notable hosting candidates and then contact each for quotes, features, and perhaps consultations, and then decide which ones to go with.
How Does Website Hosting Work?
To illustrate how hosting actually works, let's say you don't need to find web hosting companies. A web hosting service is best availed of only when needed, so for our purposes, let's say you don't need a professional host and you only plan to put up a personal website with a blog.
What you then do is buy a domain. The domain will be registered with a hosting service, but you will not require any other service from them. What happens then is you either let a free service such as WordPress.com or Blogger.com store the files you use for your website, or store it in your own computer.
In the first scenario, you're pretty much relying on free web hosting through WordPress or Blogger. In the second scenario, you will be your own host. The files on your website—from the HTML code to the articles to the images—will be stored on your own computer, or a separate storage unit. Obviously, the larger your website and the more features you require, the more storage space and high-performance hardware and software you need. This is why for business websites, finding reliable web hosting is almost always better, unless the company is large enough to have its own in-house hosting department or IT division to handle it.
What Is the Best Website Hosting Provider?
So, as mentioned earlier, business websites that are to be used for ecommerce should best find a reliable and affordable web hosting services provider as a partner. You will need a lot of storage space and high-performance infrastructure and equipment to be able to run the business website smoothly. That said the natural next question is: which is the best website hosting provider?
Since there are hundreds of providers to choose from, it is recommended to check how established and reputable each company is, as well as what sorts of websites they typically service. Of course, reading online reviews by both professionals and existing and past users can also be helpful. Unfortunately, there is no single best web host out there, if only for the sole reason that not every business website will have the exact same requirements.
The best web hosting provider for your business website will be the one that can provide you with what you need without rendering you broke. You need to find the right value for your money, because your budget will inevitably be limited since you need to invest in other facets of your business like product or service development, administration, and marketing.
But since the reliability and features your host can provide will dictate how reliable and usable your business website will be, this practically means that the success of your website is dependent on how reliable your hosting partner is. While the exact requirements of each business may be different, there are general areas that many ecommerce business owners should pay attention to when it comes to website hosting, including:
Reliability and Downtime Rates. Downtime refers to any period of time when hosting servers are "down," meaning the websites they host will also be unavailable. Because you will rely on your host for storage and everything else, when their infrastructure, hardware, or software are down, you will always be affected. Expect scheduled maintenance times, but also ask prospective hosting partners what their average downtime is. Many established hosts boast of 99% uptime rates, but it's better to get down to the specifics, like how many hours of downtime can your website experience in any given month, how many hours are scheduled and prenotified, and how fast will things be back up again when unexpected downtime occurs.
Functionality and Features. Many of the ecommerce features and functionalities you need for your website will come from third-party providers, such as Internet marketing services and shopping carts or checkout counters (digital point of sale terminals). So what you need to ensure is that your web hosting partner can accommodate such features. More features packed into your website means more storage space required and better performance needed. Your web host will also be going into indirect contact with the third-party service provider if needed, though most of the time you'll be mediating or they will have nothing to do with each other aside from being compatible services.
Security and Backup. Since you're running a business, you need to know your web hosting is secure and can back up your important data. You can rely on more third-party security and backup vendors, but most website hosting providers have their own packages to offer.