Within the next five years, it is predicted that the amount consumers spend online will double. According to eMarketer, ecommerce sales will increase from $1,915 trillion in 2016 to $4,058 trillion in 2020, making up 14.6 per cent of total retail spending that year.
In order for small businesses to capitalise on such rapid growth, they will need to have a fast, reliable, and flexible web host. But unless you know the difference between shared, private and dedicated servers and understand what cloud servers are, choosing the right option can be tricky.
What’s more, you will also need to know about the importance of uptime, support, security, scalability, and price. So, with this in mind, here is the small businesses guide to hosting.
Types of web hosting
- Shared web hosting - Most websites start with shared web hosting because it is inexpensive and easy to set up. But because you are sharing the same server as hundreds of other websites, you will no doubt experience slow page load times and poor performance.
- Private virtual hosting - Through virtualisation, this option gives each website its own slice of dedicated resources on the same server. It’s simple to scale up or down and the provider will manage all the hardware, but some server maintenance knowledge is usually required.
- Dedicated hosting - With this option your host will leave the operating system and software to you, which affords extensive configuration options and consistent performance. But once again, it requires in-depth technical knowledge and can get pricey.
- Cloud hosting - To reduce the chance of downtime, manage peak loads, and remove bandwidth issues, your website will be hosted across multiple servers known as ‘the cloud’. Previously an enterprise-level solution, the cost of the cloud is now viable for small businesses too.
What to look for
- Uptime - Your choice of web host should be able to guarantee at least 99 per cent uptime. If not, online users attempting to visit your website could be greeted with an inaccessible or unavailable page, thus adversely affecting bottom-line results.
- Support - Just in case anything goes wrong, it makes sense to choose a web host with round-the-clock support. Having a friendly and knowledgeable advisor available 24/7 is also a good idea if you lack web hosting expertise.
- Security - Now that 43 per cent of cyber attacks target small businesses, it is imperative that your web host prioritises security. Essential measures include unlimited SSL certificates, two-factor authentication, and enterprise grade firewalls.
- Scalability - Should your business attract more customers and expand online, you will need a web host that can scale up bandwidth or storage accordingly. Be careful though, as some solutions might not be able to accommodate you or even charge a premium for the privilege of scaling up.
- Price - Every small business needs to keep a close eye on its outgoings. However, it is highly recommended to pay a little bit more for a web host that not only meets your current requirements but also facilitates and supports future opportunities.