Unlike many other professions, there’s no one size fits all certification for becoming a web host. It’s something that virtually anyone can do, and in fact it’s a popular small business because it requires very little capital. All you need is one server and the ability to wrangle in customers. There are no rules about what kind of server you need, where it needs to be, or legally the amount of uptime you need to provide. Plus, shoddy web hosts can bank on the fact that most people don’t really know what they do—it’s easy to talk in circles.
If you want a reputable web host (and you should!) make sure they have a few basic skills and experiences taken care of. Your exact needs will depend on what you want out of a host, your business/website, and your goals. However, the following are a bare bones must-have list that all hosts should offer. Is your host up to speed?
- 3 hosting options: All web hosts should offer a basic shared plan, virtual private server/VPS hosting, and dedicated hosting. Within each of these packages, there should be transparency and scalability. Eventually, it’ll make sense if hosts get rid of basic shared plans altogether, but not until they offer VPS hosting at a comparable rate. VPS is the new basic, and if your host doesn’t offer it then you have to wonder what else they’re holding back.
- Update and upgrade on a dime: If you’re opting for self-managed hosting, all of those updates are up to you. However, if you’re trusting your web host to do it, they’d better be on top of everything. Every second that your software isn’t updated or there’s a patch that’s needed, your website is vulnerable. It’s a big deal to trust the security of your site to someone else. Make sure your host treats your site like their own.
- Around the clock support: You obviously can’t expect one person to be available 24/7, but they should certainly have a team that is. You need to be able to reach your host whenever and however you like, whether it’s by phone, live chat, or even text messaging. If they have closed office hours, what happens when your site suddenly goes down—from their end? Hosts simply can’t have banker’s hours.
- Top notch security: A small, boutique web host can’t rival Fort Knox, but they should still put security as a top priority. After all, they’re charged with keeping your website/business and your customers safe. Ask about security, measures being taken, and exactly where the physical server is located.
- Ability to speak in laymen’s terms: You’re not a systems administrator or web host (if you were, you wouldn’t be relying on another company to take care of this part of your website!). As such, you shouldn’t be expected to know everything—or anything!—about web hosting. Your web host should respect that, be transparent, and explain everything clearly.
Is your web host giving you everything you need? If not, it might be time to make a change. Start comparison shopping today and get a host who really delivers.