You also want a web host with 24/7 customer support—if not by phone, then at least by chat. Forums, knowledge bases, and help tickets are all well and good, but sometimes you just need to communicate with another human to get things ironed out as quickly as possible. That said, not all 24/7 customer support teams are equal. Companies like GoDaddy and Liquid Web boast incredibly knowledgeable and helpful customer support squads—a fact that we confirmed in our in-depth reviews of those web hosting services.
Your next major concern will be compatibility. It's not a shock that most businesses run on Microsoft Windows and use some form of Microsoft Office. Being able to use common third-party clients such as Microsoft Outlook can often be a concern, and even today, compatibility with Microsoft Outlook isn't necessarily guaranteed. This is especially true when sending and receiving meeting invites. It only takes one garbled meeting invite to realize how frustrating this can be in the real world. Even if using Microsoft Outlook isn't a concern, portability is. If the service is entirely web-based, then is there a means for me to take my email offline and send email when I connect?
Web hosting services offer varying amounts of monthly data transfers, storage, email, and other features. Even how you pay (month-to-month payments vs. annual payments) can be radically different, too, so taking the time to plot exactly what your company needs for online success is essential. Many of these companies also offer reseller hosting services, which let you go into business for yourself, offering hosting to your own customers without requiring you to spin up your own servers.
cPanel hosting: Some web hosts offer the popular web hosting control panel cPanel as part of their hosting packages, pre-installing the software for you. The control panel allows VPS and dedicated server users to more easily manage their servers, databases, and hosting settings. Shared hosting customers enjoy the intuitive interface from which they can install apps, like WordPress or PrestaShop, and manage their domains, email, and files.
Beyond that, DreamHost is a top website hosting company for many reasons. It operate its own control panel, which is convenient and easy to understand. While phone customer support isn't available 24/7, it is responsive to live chat and tickets. The company uses super-fast SSDs for all its storage, has a free SSL certificate (for more secured web browsing) and provides SSH access for those plans that are intended for more technical users.
Bluehost uses cPanel as its site management system. The Utah-based company has done an excellent job adding simple, but useful customizations to the cPanel layout. Sections are very clearly laid out and the process is simple to follow. It strikes a great balance between simplicity for beginners, and having the functions needed for more advanced users.
Migration or transfer services are often free or offered at a reasonable fee. These services help move your existing site to the new hosting provider. They can save a huge amount of hassle. Just remember that the migration process is often automated, and may fit in with the host's processes and needs rather than yours. Not everything may migrate, and you may find the organization of the newly migrated site makes for harder maintenance in the long run.
If you're planning on selling a product, look for a web host that offers a Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) certificate, because it encrypts the data between the customer's browser and web host to safeguard purchasing information. You're probably familiar with SSL; it's the green padlock that appears in your web browser's address bar as you visit an online financial institution or retail outlet. A few companies toss in a SSL certificate free of charge; others may charge you roughly $100 per year for that extra security layer.
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