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  • General Best Practices
6 Things to Consider When Choosing A School Website Hosting Provider
Katrine Doornbos

If you have ever gone through the process of creating a website, you will recognize that it is important to do careful research before making a commitment to a website hosting facility. There are numerous qualities to look for — from location to overall security — and it is essential that you set your standards high, as your website hosting facility can make or break both your experience, as well as your website visitors' experience. Having a dependable website host is essential to getting your site up and running, and of course, keeping it that way.

School Website Hosting

Today, schools and districts alike have options of internal and external hosting — both of which have the pros and cons. There are thousands of options available online, but only some of those options will be appropriate for your site. It is important to note that not all sites are created equal, and that different sites have different needs.

So how do you determine where your website should actually live? Here are the six fundamental qualities to pay attention to when beginning your research process.

1. The Hosting Infrastructure

Where and how your website is hosted will determine its speed, uptime and security. So, considering the physical location, structure and quality of your website hosting facility is critical. When choosing your website host facility, you'll want to ask questions in regards to:

  • The physical datacenter: Is it air conditioned? Are there raised floors? Is it surrounded by concrete? Is it fire-resistant?
  • What is the server capacity? How much memory and compute power is allocated? How scalable is the environment?
  • Are there modern load balancers, firewalls and switches?

Keep in mind that a reliable website hosting facility will be safe and scalable, as well as willing to provide you with the information that proves it. This includes compliance certifications.

2. Hosting Uptime

Whether you've developed or redesigned a website before or this is your first time, you undoubtedly understand that your site should be fast and functional. The time when your site is operational is referred to as "uptime", and this is one of a few important terms to look out for while you're on the hunt for a web host. Any host that cannot guarantee an uptime at or above 99.9% is not going to be a good fit for your site.

Finalsite consistently exceeds our target uptime of 99.9%, and is an incredibly reliable hosting service. This is possible through our 24-7 support and willing team members who are always ready to help.

3. Load Times

The longer it takes for your website to load, the faster you will lose your audience. In fact, Google is set up in such a way that sites with a faster load time are more easily found through searches. Choosing a web host that can provide viewers with a fast and effective way to get where they want to go within your site is vital. At Finalsite we know the importance of this, and are able to provide our clients with a safe, fast and secure network.

While other hosting platforms may seem appealing at first, their simplicity could be deceiving. If your hosting facility is separate from your website designer, project manager or developer, you'll most likely experience inefficiencies because they don't know how to work well together. For example, if your website designer isn't familiar with the bandwidth of your website host, they may design a site that won't load quickly. Additionally, you will be left to figure things out on your own once your site is set up.

Finalsite provides each client with a designated team who is committed to making each site a success. This means that sites will include best practices in order to increase their speed and functionality. Also, the Akamai Accelerator platform is available for Finalsite customers, and is proven to speed up up delivery of entire website, including all dynamic content. This is essential for international schools, or schools looking to reach a global target audience.4.

4. Data Security, Privacy and Protection from Hacking

Security is an important quality of any potential website hosting facility. It guards against unauthorized users accessing restricted information on your website, and it prevents the corruption of data.

One key process for keeping data secure is encryption. Finalsite is committed to providing our clients with reliable, effective security measures, and maintains this in part by strengthening password encryption – so as to guarantee password privacy. By serving all web pages over HTTPS, Finalsite also ensures that traffic is encrypted when sent over a secure connection, and therefore cannot be read by potential hackers.

Another way a website host should protect your data is by encrypting physical disks in order to prevent the information on them from being read by attackers. Finalsite has a robust DDoS mitigation solution implemented in-line with network, as well as modern firewalls/Intrusion Detection/Prevention (IDS/IPS) to ensure your school and constituent data remains safe.

Finally, we provide a secure web hosting platform by enforcing Mandatory Secure Software Development training, scanning of our code to resolve any security issues, and newly implemented security testing.

5. Bandwidth

When it comes to discerning what level of bandwidth a web host offers, it is easy to become overwhelmed. Essentially, bandwidth is the rate that data can be transferred at from website to your computer. Knowing this, it becomes clear that you need to be on the lookout for a host that has a strong bandwidth.

Think about it this way; if you pour water through a thin tube and a wide tube of the same length, at the same, using the exact same amount of liquid, the water will flow through the wide tube much faster. In the same way, if your bandwidth has a higher capacity, data will be able to travel from one place to another at a smoother rate, and your website will run much faster.

6. Site Backup

Sometimes it is inevitable that your website will crash, and it will most likely happen when you're least expecting it. Without a host that maintains regular backups of your site, you could lose everything you've worked so hard on setting up. A good web hosting service will be able to restore your site back to its full form in no time.

At Finalsite, our redundant and reliable infrastructure ensures the quality of your website data. This includes:

  • Multiple power feeds,
  • Redundant network appliances and servers
  • Multiple 10G internet uplinks in BGP4 mesh
  • Redundant fiber feeds
  • N+1 diesel generators and UPS
  • Modern load balancers, firewalls and switches

Finalsite has Business Continuity and Disaster Recovery Plans in place so that this can easily be done. Since our employees are able to work from anywhere, even natural disasters and serious network issues can't prevent us from keeping things running.

Key Takeaway

Understanding what you're looking for is an important part of any decision-making process, and deciding on a host for your website is no different. The most important thing to take away from our list is this; your future Web host should be able to maintain that your site remains secure, fast, and functional.

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