How To Choose A Hosting Provider For Your e-Commerce Site
One of the most important decisions you’ll make for your e-commerce store is the choice of a hosting provider. Hosts maintain computers specifically dedicated to housing websites. Called servers, these machines are designed to be accessed frequently by anyone connected to the internet. In most cases, you’ll rent space on the computer and the provider keeps it up and running so customers can shop your store. With that said, here’s how to choose a hosting provider for your e-commerce site.
Learn all you can about the provider’s reliability, uptime and performance guarantees. Make sure there’s room to upgrade as your business grows and study the company’s terms of service to avoid hidden gotchas. Speaking of which, some companies will try to lure you in with low pricing to start—then jack up the cost for renewal. You’ll also want to be certain your hosting provider runs all of the latest security protocols like SSL certificates to keep your customers safe from data thieves.
When you’re pondering how to set up an ecommerce site, try to project how the first 12 months of your business will look. Will you be seeing huge traffic right away or is it more likely to ramp up gradually? Will you be running promotions or flash sales with the potential to spike your traffic on a regular basis? What e-commerce software platform will you be running? What features does it need to have supported? Keep in mind some of the best proprietary e-commerce platforms include hosting as part of the deal. You might be better served with software from somebody like Shopify, since it already comes with hosting designed specifically for ecommerce.
You’ll choose between one of three types of hosting if you go it on your own:
Shared Web Hosting
Shared hosting means your site will live on a server with several other websites. Cost and convenience are the primary advantages. Because the expenses of maintaining the server are shared with others, you’ll pay less. However, if one of those sites gets hacked, or suddenly experiences a huge spike in traffic, the performance of your site could be affected, which could cost you business. Scalability can be an issue here. If you’re expecting rapid growth, this could be a limiting factor. Security can be an issue too. If one of those other sites has a chink in its armor, your site could be vulnerable as well. On the other hand, maintenance is included in the price you’ll pay and the better providers offer 24/7/365 customer service to help you work through problems.
Virtual Private Server
You get most of the benefits of shared hosting with a virtual private server (VPS), but your files will live on a more powerful and capacious machine with its own operating system, storage, and RAM. Your site functions independently of the others on the server, regardless of what happens to them. Scalability is also easier to accomplish with a VPS than with shared hosting. You’ll pay more, but it’s less than dedicated hosting will cost you.
The chief advantages of dedicated hosting include everything positive about VPS, without the need to share a server at all. However, this is the most expensive solution and not an absolutely necessary one. If your business is seeing tidal waves of traffic and generating massive revenues, going dedicated could make sense. But you’ll be tasked with maintaining the server on your own, which means you’ll need an IT team to keep it up and running. You’ll also need to be concerned about backups to keep your files safe in the event of a server failure. There are dedicated hosting providers who will manage your private server, but you’ll still forego the economies of scale you get in one of the shared schemes.
As you can see, understanding how to choose a hosting provider for your ecommerce business is rather critical. Akin to selecting the vault in which your most valued possessions are stored, this decision should be given careful consideration.