Beginner’s Guide to Understanding Small Business Cloud Hosting Options
Cloud hosting has only recently become a viable option for small and medium-sized businesses. It is valuable because it gives small businesses access to the technology they need to compete with larger businesses in the same industry. If you are just starting a small business and don’t know a thing about cloud hosting, you’re in the right place. Here’s a quick beginner’s guide.
What Is Cloud Hosting?
To understand cloud hosting, you first must have a good understanding of hosting in general. We’ll start there.
Websites are made up of pages. Each page is like a document containing text, pictures, videos, and other elements. Just like documents on your desktop, web pages take up space in digital memory. In order for your site to be accessed over the internet, these “files” need to be uploaded to a server.
Servers are physical pieces of hardware. They are typically noisy and generate a lot of heat. Servers hold more than just webpages—companies with multiple computers hooked up to the same network will all use the same server to have access to the internet and the company software.
Cloud hosting is when those servers are owned by a separate company — called a hosting service or provider. Instead of accessing the servers directly and in-house, the company will access their server remotely—through a web browser or a custom interface. Rather than storing memory on each individual office computer, everything is kept on the provider’s services, and accessed through the internet, or the “cloud.”
What Are The Pros And Cons Of Cloud Hosting?
Cloud hosting seems like an attractive option for business owners, and it definitely can be. Here are some of the advantages and disadvantages to the technology.
- Computer crashes will not cause data loss.
- Files and software are accessible from any location.
- Your website is less likely to crash if it gets a surge in traffic.
- Since your network is hosted on a virtual partition made up of an extensive network of underlying physical servers, if a server goes down, it will not make your website unavailable.
- Your servers are protected by the security measures of an offsite data center.
- You only pay for what you use.
- You don’t need to worry about servers on your business location, and won’t need to employ an IT staff to maintain them.
- If your company’s internet connection goes out, you lose access to the server and may suffer from the downtime.
- Since your information is accessible from anywhere with the internet, it is even more susceptible to hackers.
- Depending on your needs, cloud hosting could end up costing more than a software solution.
- Solving a problem or troubleshooting an issue requires another step — instead of consulting an IT guy, you have to go through the hosting provider’s customer service protocols.
How Does A Company Get Cloud Hosting?
Since cloud hosting is located offsite, companies sign up for a service through a cloud hosting provider. A simple web search can bring up a list of available service providers. For more specific results, there are search sites business owners can use to find reliable cloud hosting services in their area.
Here are some things to consider when searching for the right cloud hosting service for your company:
- Look for compliance to any industry regulations your company is subject to (such as HIPAA, PCI DSS, etc.).
- Ask how many data centers the provider manages and how they keep each center safe.
- Besides physical security, ask about digital security measures such as virus and malware prevention.
- What would happen if your business fails (or if theirs does)? What would happen if you sell your company?
- Compare the costs of cloud hosting providers against other providers as well as against an in-house software solution (onsite hosting).
For more info about local hosting options, use a hosting search engine site. Now that you know what cloud hosting is, consider how it could benefit your small business. If it sounds like something you should invest in, start looking for a hosting service today. They should be able to answer any more questions you have about the technology.
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