To an industry newcomer, or a graduate unschooled in computing lingo, web hosting might sound like a strange and mysterious procedure. Yet as anyone with a computing background knows, this process merely involves making a website’s constituent elements publicly available on a server.
Sounds simple. But to succeed, this process involves a number of key elements:
- There should be several servers storing the website’s content at any given moment, so the public still gets to view the site if a particular server temporarily goes offline.
- These servers ought to be arranged in different locations across America – or around the world, if your company is international – to minimize data transfer times.
- Each server needs a large amount of available bandwidth, to successfully handle growing traffic volumes. This future-proofs your choice of host provider.
- It makes life easier if the hosting company is also able to sell domain names and email accounts, bringing initial sales and ongoing management under one roof.
- The host has to protect website’s contents using high-end security, preventing them from being tampered with or infected by malicious software like viruses.
- There needs to be round-the-clock customer support in case of problems – a failed WordPress plugin, issues involving security certificates, high spam volumes, etc.
- Affordability is important and most hosting companies are able to slash costs by dividing space on a server between several clients. It’s a process known as shared hosting.
Reliable hosting is clearly important, but its value to the success of a business can’t be overstated. Online companies don’t have storefronts for customers to browse in, or parking lots people can wait in if a store’s closed for five minutes. If a website’s down, customers won’t keep clicking Refresh in their web browser. They’ll simply move onto a competitor platform, and be lost forever. Search engines also downgrade any sites that are offline when they visit, which is another reason why a 99.9% service level agreement is crucial.
Websites lack the personal touches provided by store assistants. In the absence of a smile and a ‘hello’, an online enterprise has to sell itself using engaging content and a professional appearance. If the web server where content is stored is overloaded with data or traffic, the pages will load slowly. If the server is halfway around the world, it will take a relatively long time to respond to hyperlink clicks or even aesthetic effects like mouseovers.
A sluggish or unprofessional ambiance is unlikely to build brand confidence, yet that’s precisely what websites have to do. In lieu of real people, they need to convey professionalism and efficiency through their operations and content. You can commission a lavish website with cinemagraph backgrounds and professionally-written SEO copy, but if people attempting to view it are greeted by a Page Not Found error, the investment has been for nothing. Reliability trumps almost everything in terms of website hosting.
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