What is there to know about website hosting? Websites reside on a server. Think of your web host server as an apartment building. They're available in all sizes and varieties. Some offer minimum security much like having doors and windows that lock. Others are fully armed with guards and even an elevator operator to make sure nothing comes into the building that isn't invited. How do you know which "apartment living" will suit your website?
You might think that minimum security will suit your needs if you aren't making any type of financial transactions through your site. Did you know that Google will only show sites with SSL?
One thing you'll need to do is prove that your website is secure with an SSL certificate. A secure website doesn't indicate ‘Not Secure’ in the URL bar. Google trusts websites with security and includes them in search results. Make sure yours is one of them.
What exactly is SSL? Is that part of my website hosting?
SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) is the standard security technology for establishing an encrypted link between a web server and a browser. It ensures that all data passed between the web server and browsers remain private and integral. You will not be protected from cybercriminals if you don't have SSL. It's that simple. Quality web servers offer SSL certificates. Be sure to ask if it's included in the monthly fee. Some charge extra for it.
What else do I need to ask a website hosting server?
Some offer daily backups of your website included in your monthly fee. Others will charge extra for that service. Ask how long they keep copies (ie: do they write over the same one every day or do they keep copies for several weeks?)
Pulling a copy from your archive backup and reposting is the quickest way to resolve a hacked site. If you don't check your website every single day, you may lose your only good copy if the server only keeps one copy, as it will write over it each day.
If you don't have a backup system in place at the server, you'll likely be looking at recreating your website from scratch. And yes, that would be painful.
Are updates to your website included in your website hosting plan?
One of the best ways to keep your website secure and avoid hacking is to make updates to your theme and plugins. Cybercriminals can easily break into your website and wreak havoc if your website back end is not consistently installing critical updates.
It is critical that your developer or your webmaster install these updates, as servers don't typically handle those tasks. Ask if theme and plugin updates can be included in your monthly hosting fee.
Stay safe out there!