Quality and Reliability Matter – Don’t skimp on them!
In the last week here at Dental Media we’ve helped two dentists recover their websites after their providers folded taking their client’s websites and back-ups with them.
In the first case, the dentist signed up to a service offered by one of his patients, but when the patient moved on, so did the website and hosting and email service without trace. In the second example, the dentist had his website built by an offshore company who also provided hosting – they also disappeared overnight taking the websites and email off-line and untraceable.
Fortunately we were able to find fairly recent copies of both websites on the “Way Back” Machine, an Internet archiving tool, and we were able to recover the files, clean up the code and have the client’s websites back up and running within a day. However, this was lucky and such a recovery is not guaranteed, particularly if your website is database driven.
Avoid the mess
Your website is a critical tool for your dental business. In one of the examples above, the dentist’s site was actually top of Google and he only noticed it had gone down when the regular stream of new patient enquiries quickly dried up. The panic at this stage was understandable and could easily have been avoided simply by recognising the importance of the website and choosing a suitable hosting provider to support that. A situation where you don’t know who hosts your site or if they hold any back-ups is unthinkable, but too many simply take the risk and assume all will be OK.
The basics for robust website and email hosting for dentists
When establishing your new practice website, this short check-list should help to ensure that your provider isn’t going to let you down unexpectedly.
Is the website hosted in a reputable UK based data centre? Ideally it should be, particularly as performance should be better and support will likely be more proactive. For example, our hosting team reply within 2 minutes of contact. Also consider that legislation surrounding data security is tightening and using off-shore hosting providers may come under increasing scrutiny.
Is the hosting data centre approved to ISO27001? This is the current best-practice standard for secure data management. By using a host who meets this standard, you are building a degree of future-proofing into your procedures for when the auditors start to check in detail.
Does the host support full SSL encryption? This is now the accepted standard for publishing websites and ensures that any communication from the users browser to your site and vice versa e.g. contact form data, is encrypted.
What is the website and email back-up protocol? Losing your website files or email is unthinkable and so it is critical to ensure that your website host is taking comprehensive back-ups of your data in case of an emergency. For example, our hosting platform is backed-up every day and then for additional peace-of-mind, to a third-party secure location once per week. In addition to this, we also hold encrypted copies of our client’s websites securely on site. So you have three levels of protection.
Are firewalls and anti-spam filters maintained and suitable? Cheap hosting rarely provides the level of protection you need and you are likely to be inundated with spam or struggle to fight off DDOS or hacking attempts. Ensure your host is running enterprise level hardware and software.
Is your website being bundled together with hundreds of others? This type of shared hosting can lead to overcrowded servers and really poor performance. Whilst it is reasonable to use shared hosting for smaller websites, ensure that your aren’t simply being crammed on to an already overcrowded server.
Does your intended website host use automatic fail-over facilities? This means that your website will not go down if a piece of server hardware fails. Your site will be automatically mirrored to another system which will keep you running uninterrupted.
What is the support level like? Can you guarantee a fast response if you spot a problem? Is support available out-of-hours?
Is the service flexible and scalable? Some larger dental websites can be very busy at certain times, for example when a promotion is run. Will your host be able to ramp up bandwidth to support this or are you content to see your site go off-line potentially?
There are numerous factors to consider when scoping out hosting for your website and it pays to have a decent working knowledge of what your are getting. Don’t just trust that your dental marketing team will look after you, all too often we see dentist’s websites down for days where their suppliers servers have been hacked or failed. This includes well-known names in the dental marketing business unfortunately.
Your web hosting is a core foundation under-pinning your website’s success, so please don’t skimp on it. The hosting and email services provided by Dental Media meet all of the criteria noted above and are likely much more affordable than you think, starting at £102 + vat per year. If you need to know more or would like us to migrate your practice website over to our systems, please get in touch on 01332 672548 and we’ll be pleased to assist.Google+