Web hosting is a service that will allow business owners or individuals to display their website to the World Wide Web.
Hosting companies provide space on severs where an organisation or individual can host or “store” their website. Think of it as renting an apartment or office space from a landlord.
Typically one will register a domain name, e.g. www.yoursite.co.za with a hosting company. If you don’t have a website you can always start using the email service that is linked to the hosting account. So even though you don’t have a website you can always use your domain and assign email addresses to it, e.g. firstname.lastname@example.org .
The difference between hosting and Internet Service Providers
Sometimes clients are under the impression that hosting providers are also internet service providers (ISPs). Some companies like MWeb and Afrihost are both hosting providers and ISP’S. On the other hand some companies specialise only in hosting, e.g. Hetzner.
How to choose a hosting service provider?
Locally we have a number of excellent hosting service providers that offer a number of hosting packages. At Masterweb we facilitate the hosting process and we maintain your hosting on our behalf. However if you would like to manage your own hosting you need to consider the following when you are choosing a service provider:
Where are they?
Are they a local company or are they abroad, remember it may be more difficult to get proper support from an international based company due to the time difference.
When are they available?
When searching for technical support, please be aware that some companies only respond during office hours.
How do they respond to technical queries?
Can you pick up the phone and call them or do you have to submit an electronic support ticket?
Are you bound to a contract?
Lately companies are offering hosting on a month to month basis but you may still find companies that would like to bind you to a fixed term contract.
Back-ups and technical infrastructure
These will be clearly explained on their website, but make sure that they will be able to reinstate backups of your websites or emails.
Why am I writing about this?
Recently I was approached by website / business owners to take over the hosting and maintenance of their websites.
The one website was hosted locally and we managed to move the website within a couple of days. The other one was hosted in the US and it was a lengthy mission to get everything transferred. I assure you that the service from the US Company was reasonably good, but they only responded via email and not telephone calls, which caused some delay and communication hiccups.
This post is highlighting some important considerations when choosing a hosting company.
As I said; locally we have some very good hosting service providers with proven track records and the best is that they are just a phone call away should you need urgent support.
So give the locals a chance, besides, “Local is lekker”
Author, Fritz Els 31 March 2014