Requirements You Must Have to Have a Good Web Host

No need for an IT team if your web hosting package meets this criteria

Choosing the right web hosting package depends on exactly what you need in a website, but there are certain must-haves for any web host you select.

Here are the most important features you should expect from a website hosting provider, plus a few extra recommendations.

File Transfer Protocol (FTP) Access

Some web hosts allow you to access your website only from their built-in website editor. This method is fine if you never plan to move your site to another platform, but if you ever need to move it, you'll want FTP access.

FTP is the most efficient way to move your site files from one host to another. Without FTP access, you may have to rebuild your whole site on the new platform. With FTP access, you can transfer your files (website content) to the new site.

Find out if your web host offers FTP access, and if not, check to see if they have a policy in place to migrate your site to another host if necessary.

Adequate Storage Space

What's adequate can vary from site to site, but if you find a hosting provider who can add space when you need it, you should be fine.

If you're building your website on your hard drive or other device, check how much space the site uses, and make sure to have more than that amount of space in your web hosting package. You'll need enough space to hold all of your images, videos, music, and any other content for your site.

Most small business and personal websites do not require an excessive amount of storage space unless the site has a lot of videos or audio files.

Reasonable Bandwidth

Bandwidth is the maximum measure of data that can transfer to and from your website over a specific amount of time. This data includes uploads, downloads, and website visits. Websites with a lot of content and high-traffic require the most bandwidth. Websites with low-to-moderate content and traffic don't require as much bandwidth.

You want to be sure that the web hosting company can accommodate the amount of bandwidth you need. If not, your site will slowly load and operate.

At Least 99.9% Uptime

Uptime is the amount of time a server's up and running. If your host's server runs at least 99.9% of the time, that's good, but 99.99% of the time is great.

You can't actually prove the server's uptime, but if a reputable web host says they are up 99.99% percent of the time, you can read their customer reviews to get a real sense of their uptime. If customer's aren't complaining about their sites being down, that's a good sign.

Site Backup Service

Without a backup plan, your website can be destroyed by hackers, a fire at the server's location, or human error. Anything can happen. You need to know that your website is being regularly backed up to an offsite server or servers.

Some web hosting companies save your website's "save" and "publish" history, which allows you to revert to a previously saved or published version of your website. While this can be very useful, it's not a true backup plan.

Security

The best web hosts provide strong security to keep hackers, malware, and SPAM from invading your site. For eCommerce sites, even more security is required.

A web host should offer a minimum of a TLS/SSL certificate, spam protection, and site backups. For e-commerce sites, the web host should offer PCI compliance. Only PCI compliant websites can accept payments online.

A TLS/SSL certificate means that all data traveling to and from your website is encrypted (scrambled). Everything such as credit card information and passwords are encrypted and safe from thieves.

Websites without TLS/SSL security display the words Not secure in the website address bar:

"Not secure" highlighted in address bar

Websites with TLS/SSL security display "https://" in the website address bar:

"https" highlighted to show website is secure

24/7 Customer Support

At a minimum, customer support should be available to you 24/7 in some capacity: phone, email, and/or chat.

An ideal web host is available to accept phone calls and chat online 24/7, or at least seven days a week.

Recommended Hosting Features

Once you have the above in place, you have more than likely found a decent web host for your site. Here are a few other features to look for in a web host that may be helpful:

  • Website Builder: Website builders eliminate the need for coding to design a website. Most website builders are drag and drop programs that allow you to see what you are creating as you are creating it. The restrictions and abilities of each website builder differ from host to host. An internet search will help you decide who has the best website builder to create the website you envision.
  • Domain: When your domain and website are hosted by the same company, you don't have to worry about connecting the domain to a different web host. Most web hosting packages include one free domain for one year with the purchase of a website.
  • Email accounts: If your website address is www.companyabc.com, you'll probably want your email addresses to end with @companyabc.com. Most web hosts offer the convenience of a matching email address.

Before using the web host's email service, verify that they use an email service with all of the capabilities that you need. Luckily, many web hosts use Gmail and Microsoft as their email providers.

Consider Scalability

Before you select a web host, don't forget to factor in whether or not they will be able to support your potential growth.

If your site traffic significantly increases, or if you add a high amount of content to the site, can your web host upgrade you from a shared server to a VPS, dedicated server, or cloud plan? If they can, great—you won't have to pack up your site and find a new home for it. Instead, you can expand what you've already built on the same platform.