Once you have decided to create a website for your law firm, or rather hire a company to do it for you, your next step is to decide on the company you want to host that website. The web hosting company stores all the data associated with your website. Think of it this way, if your website is a house, then the web hosting company is the foundation on which that house is built. So, naturally you want that foundation to be as solid and stable as possible.
There are several factors that you need to consider when choosing a web hosting company that suits your needs. However, one thing that you need to be aware of is that the domain name of your website is different from the website itself. You can—and should—purchase a domain name before the website is built. You can also take that name and transfer it to a brand new website. So, now that those differences are out of the way, it is time to find out how to choose the right web hosting company for your law firm’s website.
The Types of Website Hosting
Even before you select a hosting company, you need to consider the type of website hosting you need. These are the four main types of website hosting along with their different benefits and drawbacks.
This is when one server hosts several different websites. Several can mean anywhere from dozens to hundreds, and in some cases, thousands of websites on a server. Think of it like an apartment building with lots of different tenants.
- A very cost effective option since you’re splitting the cost with all the other tenants
- Very little setup is required since it is already done for you
- You are only allocated a limited amount of space, so if you want to scale up, that may not be possible.
- You are susceptible to the bad neighbor effect, which is when one of the tenants has a problem that negatively affects the other websites on the server
Who is this option suited for?
Small law firms that are just starting out. They might not have the budget for more expensive hosting options, and they may not yet have the type of traffic that necessitates more advanced website hosting.
VPS stands for Virtual Private Server, and it is similar to shared hosting in that multiple sites are stored on a single server. The main difference is that the server has many different virtual machines. To continue the housing analogy, a VPS server is more like a townhouse or condominium.
- A VPS typically hosts fewer tenants per server, usually ten to twenty, so there is less of a demand on resources
- When one site has problems, those problems will not affect the other websites on the server. That is because the virtual machines create a separation within the server
- You can customize your own setup without affecting the other sites on the server
- It allows for scalability, so it gives you room to expand once your site starts to flourish
- This is a more expensive option than shared hosting
- You are responsible for some of the hosting setup and configuration
Who is this option suited for?
Practically everyone who can afford it. This is a great solution that can suit the needs of any business of any size since it offers room to grow and change. If you started out using shared hosting, then you should switch to VPS hosting once you notice an increase in your traffic numbers.
In this case, dedicated hosting is like owning your own house. You host the website without having to worry about any other website potentially causing problems.
- It allows for more flexibility than the other hosting methods
- No other websites can affect yours in a negative way
- This is one of the most expensive types of website hosting
- You need to have a good amount of computer know-how to use this method
Who is it for?
Large law firms who want the security that hosting their own server provides. It is also highly scalable, so you can expand or alter the website when it becomes necessary.
This is similar to VPS hosting in that hosting takes place on a virtual machine. This machine is not connected to one physical server, it is instead connected to a network of computers.
- Almost unlimited scalability. The virtual machine can draw as much power from the network as it needs, so there are no physical hardware limitations
- It is affordable since there is not a fixed rate, you only get billed for the resources you use
- It is great for security, particularly against DDoS (Distributed Denial of Service) attacks
- Costs can be unpredictable
Who is this option suited for?
Eventually, everyone. This is most likely, the future of web hosting, since it is suitable for businesses of all sizes and types.
Important Criteria for Choosing a Web Hosting Company
Your Budget and Your Needs
The scale of your website is a determining factor because you want a company that can scale with you. Even if you start small, you may not stay that way, and you need a company that can accommodate an increase in the scope of your business.
Concurrently, you do not want to choose the cheapest company since they may not be able to handle an expansion of your firm’s business. Smaller companies try to offset their low prices with a high volume of clients, so they may not be able to handle a firm that experiences substantial growth. Choose a company that offers great value, not just low prices.
This is the amount of time your server remains up and running. Naturally, you would want this to be 100%, but that is not really possible, so be wary of companies that offer that guarantee. The server should have a reliability rate of at least 99.5% but, preferably 99.9%. You should not accept an uptime rating that is below 99%. You can check the reliability rating of a hosting provider using various tools easily found on the internet.
If anything goes wrong, you want there to be someone available to handle it ASAP. Customer support should be readily available, knowledgeable, and patient. You should test the customer support services before choosing a web hosting company by calling them and asking them some basic questions to see how they respond. Contacting them should be fast, easy, and available in different formats like phone, e-mail, and live chat.
Needless to say, you do not want any serious security breaches to occur on your website so the hosting company should provide competent protection against the aforementioned DDoS attacks, malware, computer viruses, and hacking attempts. The information of your customers is valuable to thieves and should be protected at all costs. Make sure that your hosting company offers SSL certification, firewalls, and other security measures to reduce the chances of a breach occurring.
In the event that a breach does happen, then you want to know that all of the latest additions and revisions to the site are safe and sound. You should ask any hosting companies in which you are interested if they offer regular backups of your site’s data. You should also find out if they charge extra for this service or if it is a part of their standard service.
Find the Web Hosting Company That Is a Perfect Fit For Your Law Firm
The cost of hiring a web hosting company is certainly going to be a big factor in your decision, but it should not be the main one. You want a company that is as ambitious as you are, one that is not willing to settle for hosting several small companies. You want a company that is prepared to handle the biggest and the best because, even if that is not how you start out, that is how you want to end up. On The Map Marketing has the ambition, skill, and resources to host the websites of the most aspirational and enterprising law firms. Your website is in good hands with us.