BPubs Quick Guide to Business Hosting:
Selecting a webhost for your business can bring its own set of issues. Business owners tend
to be less concerned with price, and more focused on features, uptime and service response. If
your website is down, how quick is the response time? How fast can you talk to a real person,
and not get hung up in VMail tree?
A business website is also a dynamic development environment. Getting the right tools into
your developers hands can be essential. If the host has added new features to their accounts
in the past, with any luck they'll be adding new features in the future. Watching the evolution
of their hosting packages can tell a lot about how progressive the webhost is.
In no partiular order, keep an eye out for the following features:
Disk Space - 30, 100 or 1 GB+? It all depends on the size of your website,
and what types of files you tend to keep on it. Businesses often have more PDF's, Video files
and other file types that tend to rack up the size of your website.
Is the Domain Transferable? - Most web hosts will register the domain name for you.
Make sure they put the ownership in your name, and watch that the terms of your agreement do
not require you stick with them as a host. Make sure you can leave your host behind at any time
if their services are not up to par.
CGI/PHP Access - CGI access for a
small business website, large commerce site or even a service based company website
is a must. If you want something as simple as a feedback form or contact form, you'll need CGI
FTP & Telnet/SSH Access - Simple hosts may offer little more than browser uploads.
FTP access has become pretty standard, but Telnet/SSH (command line access) will also be
Stats / Referrer Logs - You can work around not having a Stats package by using one of the
look for a built in stats package, and/or access to your log files. On a side note here, if
you intend to ask for your log files make sure you get extra Disk Space (read above) as it
may be counted against your disk space total.
OS Availability - Do you need Unix or Windows? If your website developer requires
Frontpage extensions, you should know that before purchasing. :-) If your development environment
requires SSI (Server Side Includes) or shell scripts of any source, don't get a Windows server.
Annual Billing Discounts - Do you get a 5% or 10% by purchasing a year's worth of
hosting service at once? You may not need to know this the first year of operation, but with
any success online you'll be asking for this type of discount when the second year comes around.
Ecommerce Features - If you're looking for ecommerce support, you'll want to know
about Shopping Carts, Secured Servers (SSL), and encryption support (perhaps PGP to form mail back
secure information). You can always get a standard website, and add on 3rd party support for
ecommerce with merchant account services like 2CheckOut, but depending on scale, you may be
looking at co-location and be required to build everything yourself.
Corporate Stability - Simply put, are they going to be around a year or two from now? It
can't hurt to check out the "About Us" page for their corporate history prior to signing up.