As long as your bank or credit union is in business, you’ll need a website. Selecting a web hosting provider might seem intimidating and complicated, but it doesn’t have to be. Whether you’re renewing your contract with your current vendor or you’re shopping around for a new bank web hosting service, you’ll want to ask these 10 questions.
- How much does hosting cost, and what’s included?
- How does the hosting service thwart cyberattacks?
- Can the hosting service ensure my website meets federal regulatory compliance?
- What is the hosting service’s uptime guarantee?
- What type of hosting does the service offer?
- How much storage does the service include?
- What is the backup process?
- How do I update my bank website?
- How does the hosting service support customers?
- What are the cancellation and renewal processes?
You can probably find a hosting service for as little as $10 a month, but you get what you pay for. With your financial institution’s security and privacy requirements, you can expect to pay hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars each month on hosting alone. You’ll want to ask your hosting provider for a breakdown of the charges to see if the cost includes other fees, such as domain registration and an SSL certificate.
Customers expect security and privacy when they visit your bank website. Although you can implement safety measures on your end, like installing anti-virus software on your computers, your hosting service should provide more sophisticated methods, including DDoS protection, security patches, and encryption on their side.
Title V of the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act of 1999 (GLBA) requires financial institutions to protect customer data and to explain the steps they take to safeguard customer privacy. Your web hosting provider should offer precautions to ensure your bank website meets federal regulations. Your contract should address the security methods mentioned above along with internal procedures, such as password and authentication protocols.
The performance and speed of your bank website are just as important to your customers as security and privacy. No web hosting service is perfect, and you should accept nothing less than 99.9% uptime. The reliability of your website also depends on the amount of traffic it sees daily. The more customers you have accessing your site, the higher the bandwidth you’ll need from your web hosting provider.
Your bank website traffic also affects the type of web hosting you’ll need. The three most common types are shared hosting, virtual private server (VPS) hosting, and dedicated hosting. With shared hosting, your website resides on a host —or server — with multiple sites, which is practical if you don’t have many customers. With a VPS, a single server is divided into many virtual machines, each acting as a dedicated server. If you expect high traffic on your website and require more control to manage it, then you’ll want a dedicated web host.
The size of your website dictates how much storage you’ll need. If your site is fewer than 10 pages, you’ll need less storage than you would need if your site were 50 pages. Knowing how much storage is included in the price will give you an idea of scalability in the future. This is important to know, especially if your bank is growing, and you anticipate adding content to your website before your hosting contract ends.
Backing up your bank website is essential. Whether you lose your data from a natural disaster or a cyberattack, you need to be able to restore your website as soon as possible. You’ll need to know if you or your web hosting provider is responsible for the backup process and what that process is.
Once your website is live, someone will need to make updates. If your hosting provider can’t do it for you, the responsibility falls on you. Many hosting services build your website on a content management system that doesn’t require knowledge of HTML or coding. Depending on the complexity of the revisions, you may be able to make the changes.
Customer service doesn’t end once the contract has been signed. Your web hosting provider must offer ongoing support. You’ll want to understand the policies and procedures for reaching customer service, including hours of operation, contact methods, response time to questions, and resolution time to solve your issue.
Your bank web hosting service should explain the renewal process so you’ll be prepared when the contract expires. You don’t want to be surprised by a price increase or being automatically locked into a new contract, especially if you’re considering finding a new hosting provider. You’ll also want to familiarize yourself with the cancellation process in case you become dissatisfied with your service at any point. Even if you have to pay a penalty, it might be worth breaking the contract for the sake of your business.
Selecting a bank web hosting provider takes research and patience. BankSITE® Services has more than two decades of experience in hosting community bank and credit union websites. We understand the special needs and requirements of financial institutions, and we would be happy to answer these 10 questions and more.