What Every Business Owner Needs to Know about Web Hosting

Business Owner Choosing a Web Host

Recently, a friend looking for cheap hosting reached out to me and said the important things seem to be disk usage and inodes and could I help him understand that?

I replied that in most cases inodes are not nearly important as several other factors. Here are the things I shared with him that every business owner should be aware of regarding their hosting:

Backups – Every site should be kept up to date. Every once in a while, an update will crash your site. If you have good backups, it is simple to restore the last backup and get the site up and running. Sometimes, for a variety of reasons, you may need to go back several days or weeks. So make sure you know how long your backups are in place for.

Uptime – There are still some web hosts that struggle to keep their servers up – especially the kind that are in your friend’s basement – but even larger, more reputable firms can have problems. Our servers by contrast, were up five 9’s last year: 99.9992% of the time. You should look for a firm that is AT LEAST four 9’s: 99.99% of the time up.

Security – Hackers and others with ill-intent are constantly probing just about every website out there, looking for security holes and other ways to attack. I’ve heard business owners say things like “Well that isn’t important for us, there is nothing private or important on our site.” After a discussion about the ways that hackers can hijack a site to serve porn or other illegal or illicit content, these same business owners begin to ask me questions about enhanced security for their site. There are several things to consider for security. Among these are:

  1. Does your site have an SSL certificate that shows it is secure (does the url start with https://? If so you are good. If it starts with just http://, you need help!)?
  2. Do only the people who need elevated access to the site, have it? If there are accounts for former employees or vendors you no longer use, the accounts should be removed lest they be compromised.
  3. What kinds of security scans are performed routinely? As new vulnerabilities are discovered regularly, your website should be scanned daily or at the very least weekly.

PCI Compliance – If you conduct any kind of ecommerce directly on your website, you need to make sure your site meets the “Payment Card Industry” compliance standards. The standards here also change regularly as the industry matures and as the bad guys become more sophisticated. So you need to make sure your web host has your back.

Hidden Charges – Does your web host provide a low low price for hosting and then nickel and dime you for every little thing? That can get annoying really fast. “oh, you want an ssl certificate? We can certainly do that for $25. Oh, you another email account? $10 / month. Oh, need more bandwidth, $20 / 100 MB / month.” And so on. The key is to be prepared if you go the low end route to know how much each item will cost and is the host inexpensive or simply cheap?

Support – How does support work? Can you only open an email ticket or an online chat or can you talk to a real human being about your real issue?

For each of these items, there is not necessarily a right or wrong answer – it is just important that you, as a business owner or website maintainer, knows about each of these so that when determining your hosting you can make informed choices.

And, as always, if you have questions about this, please give Brian a call at 303-268-2245

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