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Lauren MacEwen

How to Find a New Web Host for Your Small Business

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

The phone's ringing off the hook, your only employee didn't show up today and your website and email just crashed. It's another hectic day in the life of a busy entrepreneur. Someday, you'll be able to take a day off – maybe even a whole week! But that won't be anytime soon.

Until you can afford to pay higher wages, you may be stuck with that one deadbeat employee. But you don't have to put up with your website being unreliable. The problem is most likely your Web host, so if you're not getting what you need, it's time to make a change.

Choosing a Host

As you begin your search for a website host, take advantage of resources available to you as a small business owner. Consult with your local chamber of commerce and check the U.S. Small Business Administration website for advice. Talk to other small-business owners in your community and ask them what Web host they use.

Responsiveness Matters Most

Look for a Web hosting provider that offers excellent customer service and 24/7 technical support. Once you've narrowed-down your list of reputable hosting companies, call them to ask a few questions. Make a note of whether the person you speak with seems friendly and knowledgeable, how long you're on hold before someone takes your call, and how many times you're transferred or put on-hold. Because any time you're on the phone with your Web hosting service is time you can't field phone calls from your own customers.

Ask each company you're comparing for an "uptime guarantee," which is the amount of time you can expect your website to be functional. Ideally, your uptime would be 100 percent, but that's difficult to guarantee. You should expect, however, your uptime to be 99 percent or higher.

If you have content on your website written by bloggers or copywriters, make sure you ask any potential Web hosts how they respond to allegations of plagiarism or misappropriation of content. In some cases, website hosts will shut down an entire website, rather than investigate whether such claims are legitimate.

Ask whether a new host can handle the transfer for you, or at least help you understand the steps involved.

Look for Ample Storage

While storage space needs will vary from business to business, 200GB should cover your needs. Aim higher than that if you foresee your business growing or offering new services.

Before you transfer to your new host, download all the files from your website and save them to your hard drive. Even though you should experience little – if any – downtime as you move to a new host, plan to move files to your new server at a time when customers normally wouldn't be trying to access your site.

Hassle-free Hosting

With all of your responsibilities as a small business owner, you need a Web hosting service you can count on, because if your host's server crashes, your website stops working, and you could lose customers as a result. Find a host that values customer service as much as you do, with an exceptional uptime guarantee, so you don't have to worry about website outages complicating your day.

Original Article

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About the Author:
Lauren MacEwen is the founder and primary strategist of SM Cubed Consulting, a social media firm based out of Albuquerque, New Mexico. She received her Bachelor of Arts from Smith College and her Masters in Business Administration from the WP Carey School of Business at Arizona State University.
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