How to Find the Best Hosting for your Town Website

Website hosting is a process that still baffles many people, even if they are quite computer literate and technically savvy. When setting up your own town website, you’ll need to understand the basics so that you can find the best hosting option.

So what is a website host, anyway? It’s the company you pay to keep your website’s files and information on a hard drive that is reachable by web browsers. This company quite literally plays host to your entire website and enables visitors to view it via the internet. Hosts often offer package deals to website owners that include registration, DNS services and design templates. To find the best hosting, you just need to follow these steps:

Step One: Assess Your Needs

Not every website owner needs the full package, but for many people and businesses it is ideal to buy everything at once. For example, a full-service web hosting company may offer more than just design templates; it may offer specialized website design as well. For those of us that aren’t great at html coding and formatting, but need a professional and attractive website, the full package can be a good idea.

On the other hand, if you’ve already chosen a website designer and builder, there’s no need to pay extra fees for access to another. The same can be said for rudimentary templates that come with certain hosting packages.

In all, it takes website name registration, hosting, DNS services and actual design and building of a website for your site to get online. Each of these parts can be purchased separately or together, depending mostly on who you want to design and build the website.

Step Two: Compare Top Services

The choices are plentiful, but not all of them were created equally. Do yourself a favour and only consider using hosting services that have been reviewed many times, and have a good reputation.  To choose between the remaining options, pick out the website hosts that offer exactly what you need – no more and no less. When the list has been shortened, take a look at prices and support. Never work with a hosting company that doesn’t offer great support on at least two channels! Test out their customer service and technical teams by getting in touch and asking a few questions. Right away, you’ll be able to gauge the efficiency of the support team.

You should also test out the quality of the host’s web pages by visiting them and seeing for yourself how well they work. Good-quality hosting means that your website should load quickly, every time.

Step Three: Consider On-site Hosting Vs. Managed Hosting

Managed hosting means that your website’s files are sitting on a server that is managed for you on your behalf so you do not need to worry about the technical and hardware infrastructure. The managed host will take care of the server hardware, the server components, and the power & internet to the server itself. Therefore if there is a hardware failure to the actual server or to a component like the hard drive or a stick of RAM, it will be replaced. A good managed host will proactively monitor and measure the components, and often have pre-scheduled downtime to do regular maintenance in order to ensure high availability of the website.

From a power standpoint, a good managed host will provide redundant power supply with back up generators to ensure the server stays operational. And from the standpoint of connectivity of the internet infrastructure, a good managed host will provide redundant connections to the internet backbone. Managed hosting with Town Web Design only costs between $39/mo to $79/mo for most small towns, villages and cities.

On the opposite end of the spectrum is on-site hosting. This is where the municipality itself owns (or leases) the server hardware and components, and has a server room or server closet physically located in your municipal building. The downside to doing on-site hosting is the cost, which can make it prohibitively expensive for almost all small and medium sized towns.

Instead of spending a nominal monthly fee for the managed hosting, the town will need to employ or contract with an IT specialist. This specialist will need to be available for timely updates and upgrades to the hardware and to the internet infrastructure. Another thing that is sometimes overlooked is the cost to provide air-conditioning to the server room. In one instance, I had a municipal customer decide to switch to us after they got in over their head with trying to do on-site web hosting.

This municipality only had about 3,000 residents but had an on-site server. They previous thought it would save them money to have everything in house and to host their own web site. Unfortunately for them, the server was in an enclosed room that had very little ventilation and which got very hot during the summer months. In order to keep the server functioning, the town had their electricity bills spike to $300 during the hot summer months in order to keep the server room cool!

In the end the final choice is yours when finding the best hosting company, as there are several options available for towns, villages and cities! Find the best hosting option based on your needs, your budget and their quality of service.

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