Guest post by Sue Poremba (learn more about the author at the end of the article):
The one tool that no startup can live without is a website, something that will attract potential customers. However, even more important than a well-designed site is a well-hosted site. As you work to develop your customer base and gain brand recognition, it is vital to have a reliable website – one that can handle spikes in traffic, can scale to your needs, and can avoid downtime.
Because most startups don’t have a lot of extra cash to spend on a website, the temptation is to go as cheaply as possible, including using free Web hosting options. The problem is you may get what you pay for – an inexpensive host may not be equipped to handle a sudden increase in traffic. A Web crash could end up costing a lot more in the long run.
Obviously, having the right web hosting provider for your startup’s site has to be a priority. But how do you know which providers are reliable and will be a benefit to your business?
First, there are four Web hosting provider options: Shared, Virtual Private Server (VPS), Dedicated, and Cloud Hosting. Which option you choose will depend partly on your requirements for the site and the number of expected visitors – cloud and dedicated servers are best for large volumes of traffic.
You may want to start with a hosting provider with a lot of experience with startups. While investigating the provider, see if it has any special programs or development plans especially geared toward entrepreneurs and startup companies. Is there a forum where you can discuss your needs and plans and concerns? If you see that a hosting provider has an active startup community, chances are good that it is going to be able to work with your needs, within your budget.
The ideal hosting provider will not only be experienced with startups, but more importantly, will take pride in how well it prevents downtime. No provider will have 100% uptime, but 99% isn’t an unreasonable uptime goal. So, you want a provider who takes extra steps to maximize uptime. According to a post on LeanWired, your Web host provider’s efforts should include the following measures:
- Alternate sources of power, in case of electrical outages.
- Using reliable equipment. “Outages may occur if a Web server’s hard drive, network card, power supply or processor fails. Hosting services should maintain stockpiles of spare parts for their computers,” LeanWired stated.
- Suitable bandwidth limits
- Multiple backup and storage locations. Servers get destroyed – think of all the websites that went dark during Hurricane Sandy – but when you save files in multiple locations, your site will continue to be accessible.
“Your site can’t be seen if the host constantly has server outages,” Angela Nielsen president and creative director of One Lily, a web design and hosting company, was quoted in Inc.
The complexities of today’s IT technology has increased the risks of downtime. For that reason, it is important to understand where your startup’s strengths and weaknesses are when developing your Web presence. When you know your needs and the technology you need to support, as well as the traffic you hope to attract, you have the tools in place to get the most reliable hosting provider who will make sure you get the most bang for your buck.
About the Author
Sue Poremba is a freelance writer focusing primarily on security and technology issues and occasionally blogs for cloud service provider Rackspace Hosting.