Cloud hosting is a web hosting solution that uses a number of physical servers to create a single virtual environment, a “cloud,” that other virtual private servers draw from. A bunch of individual servers use the resources and data of the crowd to run individual hosting environments. Cloud hosting is a great solution for people that are looking for something cheaper than dedicated hosting, but with more power and scalability than a shared hosting solution offers.
Still, there are a lot of different kinds of cloud hosting solutions available. “Cloud” is a great computer buzzword right now, and so many companies are excited to advertise about their cloud services. Cut through the ad copy about how great the hosting is, and look for the actual meat and potatoes of the hosting solution.
Here are the things that you should look for in a cloud hosting solution:
01Resources and Infrastructure
Good cloud hosting services have data centers that are located relatively close to you. Latency comes from the data having to travel great distances across the world. If you pick a hosting company that has servers located halfway across the world from you and your audience, then you might be losing valuable milliseconds to the way that data travels.
Additionally, great hosting providers will have multiple data networks so that in the event of a problem at one of the data centers they will have more servers that can run your site. Most big hosting providers will be able to deliver these multiple data centers. Natural disasters, technical issues, and power problems shouldn’t cut down your website.
02Backups and Data Protection
Hosting service providers should be offering you plans for data backup. But they often have fine print about the amount of backups that they will offer or the maximum size taht they will backup. Service providers should be backing up your website either once a day or once a week, really depending on the size and kind of website that you are running. If you have a backup facility that isn’t backing up your site once a week, you should be going shopping somewhere else.
You should also look at how long the backups are being offered for. Some places will only store one backup at a time or have only one live backup. Great hosts will offer backups that go back a month, or even two or three months. And the backup process should restore your backups without too much of a headache or too many questions. Why do you need backups that go backwards for a couple of months? Sometimes you won’t identify a critical error or something that is difficult to fix for about that amount of time. Having different versions of the site to restore or even paste together can really help you restore full functionality.
03Service and Support
When you sign up for a hosting service, you’re also going to have a service agreement with the hosting service. You should pour over this. Lot’s of hosting providers will try to slide different things into the terms of service. Not because they’re being dishonest, but because the terms of service is the legal side of the equation.
That’s where you get the actual parameters for the site. Remember that a website for a hosting company is essentially an ad. They can’t and usually don’t claim things that are untrue, but they can definitely allow the company to present their services in the best possible light. The website is an ad, the terms of service is the agreement.
Part of what you want to look for in the terms of service, and through the company itself, is the terms of agreement when it comes to the IT department. You’re going to need help running your website. You need an IT department that is available when you are. If you don’t work on weekends or holidays, and aren’t running a business or site that needs service on those days, then it’s fine if you have a hosting company that doesn’t work on those days. On the other hand, if it’s important that your company has service everyday, you’ll need 24×7 support.
One thing that you can do is try out the customer service channels before you’re even a customer. For example, you can try calling or sending an email to the support channels just to see the speed and quality of the response that you get. This can give you an idea of what to expect from your cloud hosting service.
All hosting services run into issues at sometimes. Your website may not be live every single day at every moment because of problems in the service. But you should be looking for a place that has at least 99.9% uptime. If you’re getting 99.9% uptime, that means that your hosting provider is guaranteeing that your site will only be down for about 8 hours every year. For most sites, this guarantee will be good enough. Make sure to check out the fine print on the quality of uptime that is listed in the terms of service, and don’t just look at the number on their homepage.
Yes, you should expect to get a good price for cloud hosting. Compare similar plans among a number of different companies, and find out what you get from each one. In addition, you can also negotiate with each company and bargain with them. Some companies will give you a better deal if they know that you are on the fence about their company.
Getting great cloud hosting doesn’t require insider, specialized knowledge. You don’t have to go into the weeds of technical information. But it definitely requires some research. Part of getting a great hosting solution means that you’re going to have to find a handful of companies that look good to you. You’ll need to begin conversations with those companies and get down to what they can actually offer you. Keep in mind price, technology, uptime, service and support, and backups.