One of the very first things people do when deciding if they want to use a new business is check to see if the business has a website. For better or worse, a website lends your business psychological credibility with potential customers. Getting your website up and live requires you to get a domain name, but it also requires you to pick a hosting service. Picking the best small business web hosting for your business requires you to check on a few critical details.

Price/Storage Limits/Usage Limits

Hosting services come in two forms: free and paid. Free services offer one obvious advantage: no paying. They do, however, have their pitfalls. Most free services place ads on your website, which customers may assume you endorse. Free hosting typically place fairly harsh limits on your total available bandwidth and your total available storage. You can usually only host one domain per account, as well For a no-frills site that doesn't rely heavily on video content and anticipates a moderate volume of visitors, free hosting can probably meet most of your bandwidth and storage needs. Customer service response times often prove very long with free hosting.

Paid hosting typically offers several levels of service with unlimited or gold level services being the most expensive, but also providing the most features. Top-tier paid hosting typically place no limits on storage, bandwidth or the number of domains you host. The customer service response times tend to be very fast, usually within one business day or less.

PHP and SQL Support

Without descending into a painfully technical discussion, it's important to make sure your hosting service supports recent versions of PHP and SQL. PHP is a programming language that, essentially, lets your website do more things. For example, PHP drives a lot of the web forms you interact with online. SQL databases are essential for some of the more common blogging platforms out there, such a WordPress. If the hosting service doesn't support both, you can find your site crippled in small or large ways.

Uptime

Hosting services talk a lot about uptime. Most hosting services tell you that they provide uptime somewhere between 99% and 99.9%. What uptime really refers to is the likelihood that a visitor will be able to access your site on the first attempt. While you should probably avoid any service claiming less than 99% uptime, a service that offers better features for your need and only 99% uptime is probably the way to go. If you feel that the maximum possible uptime represents a key concern for your business, you can consult Netcraft's list of most reliable hosting companies to help you pick a service.

Control Panels

There are probably dozens of hosting control panels out there, but whether you will find a given control panel intuitive depends on preferences. The most common control panels employ either an icon-based approach or a combination of icons and tabs for navigation. Different control panels cater to different audiences. Control panels for experienced users will provide comprehensive access to functions, while control panels aimed at new users tend to limit choices to the absolutely essential functions. Before you pay for a hosting service, check to see if they offer a demo of their control panel you can try out. You should pick a hosting service that provides a control panel that feels intuitive to you.

Choosing the best small business web hosting for your business website may demand attention to other factors. You may need a robust email auto-responder if you plan on communicating with your customers regularly via email. You might also want dedicated hosting, rather than shared hosting. When you're making your first pass at choosing the best hosting service, though, the factors above are the crucial pieces you need to give your attention.

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