Choosing a web host is an important decision. You need to find one that can provide the features you need at a price you can afford. But with so many hosts on the market, how do you choose the right one?
The right web host will depend on your site's needs and budget. You don't want to spend a fortune on a web host that you cannot afford or does not provide the features you need. But, you also don't want to save money at the expense of required speed or essential services.
In this article, I will discuss all you need to consider when choosing a web host. Here's all you need to know before making this critical decision.
Why The Right Web Hosting Is Crucial
For your website to succeed, you need the right web hosting. Whether your website is a personal blog or an e-commerce store, it needs reliable web hosting to run effectively. That's why choosing the proper web hosting service is so critical to your site's success.
When planning on starting a website, many individuals fail to consider what type of hosting they will need until after they've already started. This is a big mistake.
From feature sets and technical specifications down to customer support and uptime, you need to make sure your website will be hosted on a service that's built for what you need.
It would also help if you didn't try hosting your site on free services. Sure, they don't cost any money, but the limitations of their plans are impossible to overcome. That means your site won't be able to grow as quickly as it could. If possible, it's best not to start with these types of free hosts in the first place.
Proper web hosting is also vital if you don't want to risk losing content or having sites ruined because of outages or lack of adequate space and bandwidth. Without dependable web hosting services, millions upon millions of websites would never have become successful like they are today.
Let's dive deep into all of the features you should look into before making a final decision on your web host.
Check For The Primary Features Of The Web Host
The primary features you should be looking for even before you purchase hosting are the disk space, bandwidth, account limitations, and whether or not there is an unlimited option.
You should know exactly how much disk space you can expect to receive when signing up for a plan. Also, make sure the data transfer limits won't affect your website in the future. If it will, then look into getting a dedicated server (more on this later).
Because accounts with some hosts usually have limitations that you cannot remove, try searching for one that offers unlimited options. This way, you can always grow your website without worrying about hitting any caps later down the road. Unlimited plans are also helpful if you want to transfer and host more than one site at a time.
Even though many web hosts will advertise that they offer unlimited disk space, you should be aware of some critical details on setting up those unlimited hosting accounts. With most of those services, you may store only a certain amount of data per month. Once that limit has been reached, your website may begin experiencing downtime until you contact their support team for assistance. This gives the impression the servers were overwhelmed by too much traffic, and the site was down. In reality, it was just because they exceeded their allotted storage quota for the month and could store no more information after reaching this limit.
Examine The Host's Website Backup Choices
Your hosting provider's website backup features are essential. If they don't have a backup system in place, any data loss could mean the end of your website and all of its contents.
This is also true, especially if you do not take advantage of additional services such as the archives and versioning offered by some hosts. This will allow you to restore previous versions of your site when necessary, which is an excellent way to safeguard against potential threats that may induce data loss or corruption on your server.
Is Email Hosting Included in Your Account?
Email hosting provides users with several email address options for their domains. Some web hosts offer this service included with their hosting plans, while other providers charge a separate fee for it.
If you're planning on hosting your email address as part of your domain, then look for web hosts that offer POP3 or IMAP protocols so you can retrieve emails from any of your devices, not just ones hooked up to the server. It would help if you also kept in mind whether the email plans are unlimited, so they don't cause an additional strain on your bandwidth.
Hosting providers that provide webmail services are typically similar to email hosting, but they're often limited and charge a fee for the service.
Check To See Whether The Host Supports E-Commerce
If you'd like to sell products through a website, having e-commerce implemented into your account is necessary. Many excellent shopping cart platforms can set up online stores with whatever payment gateway system is needed.
However, if you're selling goods directly from your site, it's still helpful to find e-commerce support. Most hosts provide tools to help you set up shop, but not all offer the same types of services.
You should look for e-commerce hosting providers that have SSL certificates for their domains and let you choose which directories will be assigned as order checkout pages. Also, make sure that all shopping carts are compatible with any other 3rd party software necessary to make transactions run smoothly.
The best web hosting service when starting an eCommerce business will also provide you with a dedicated IP address and the option to install special software and applications as needed. If you feel overwhelmed, you can always find great web hosts that support multiple e-commerce platforms on virtually any hosting plan.
Getting A Firm Grasp On Any Account Restrictions
The hosting company of your choice should be transparent about anything limiting the features of your account.
You should make sure that you get a list of all limits and understand what happens when these restrictions are reached. If you're not allowed to upgrade if necessary, then this may cause problems down the road.
There's often a separate fee for every upgrade available, and the prices can add up quickly over time. The best web hosts don't place any limits on their service plans and provide free upgrades at any time, so you don't have to worry about paying more than necessary.
Find Out How Much Control You'll Have Over The System
The web hosting company you go for should give you a lot of control over your account, especially when customizing settings.
If there are specific applications that need to be installed or if you want more resources from the server, then find out whether the host can accommodate you and how much it will cost. In some cases, they may ask for additional monthly fees, which could increase over time depending on what features you require.
Another factor to consider is SSH (secure shell) access. While not all hosts have complete access, this robust command shell is an excellent way to manage code remotely while you (or outsourced workers) work on your site. If this advanced feature is also something you're interested in keeping tabs on, then make sure that the hosting provider offers SSH access before signing up for their service plans.
Test the Host's Server Availability
While some web hosting providers estimate that their servers are online 99% of the time, you should still check it yourself.
After signing up with the host, try to connect to its website and see whether there's any sign of downtime. If you find out that they've been available at all times, then it's safe to say that you'll have no issues in this department when it comes time to use your account.
Some companies may be more reliable than others during certain hours due to traffic load or maintenance schedules, which is why checking availability statistics won't hurt. Also, make sure that these numbers correspond with what customers report on various discussion boards around the Internet before deciding on a plan.
If you're considering shared hosting, there may be a problem with your website when the server is under heavy load from other accounts. To prevent this from happening, choose one with redundant web servers and plenty of power to spare for each account hosted on its network - if not, consider going for dedicated hosting.
Make Sure You Receive The Customer Support And Assistance You Require
Choose a web host that provides comprehensive support for customers and a set of tutorials and knowledge base articles.
Make sure to find out whether you can contact support via telephone, email, or online chat to receive the help that you need when it's needed.
It would help if you also looked into how long it will take them to respond and whether they can provide rapid assistance for urgent issues such as a broken script blocking your website from loading correctly.
If any problems do happen, then getting immediate help is quite helpful.
Confirm The Host's Refund And Warranty Policy
The right web hosting service should provide you with a refund policy and guarantee your satisfaction when signing up.
Make sure to read through their terms of service so that you'll know what to expect if the services they offer don't live up to your expectations.
The best web hosts will also cover all associated fees if something goes wrong during account creation or when transferring data from an existing website, saving you any potential losses in this department.
While downtime and unexpected issues happen, refunds and warranties protect you in such cases and can help ensure peace of mind on your end when choosing a hosting web service.
This should all be included in the terms and policies of the web host of choice.
Potential Add-Ons you can include
Consider which add-ons you're interested in, such as site backups, malware scanning, special caching servers, and more.
You'll want to do some comparison shopping if you haven't already because these services can affect the price of your plan.
While some add-ons are not particularly necessary, you might want to consider a few that can ease frustrations and streamline tasks. This will change on a case-by-case basis.
The Use Of Website Builders
While shopping around for web hosting, having access to a website builder as part of that service is a great benefit.
This way, you can easily set up a new site without having to download additional software or go through a long and complicated setup process on your own.
There are pros and cons to using website builders, so make sure that they fit your particular needs before committing to one platform or another.
Some of these services may be more flexible, but they may not have every single feature you need for an e-commerce store. These can include complex web design tools, which can add time and expense in some cases when trying to resolve issues like broken code or glitches with the look and feel.
As with any purchase, it's essential to consider what you're getting at all times when choosing web hosting because quality is the name of the game when it comes to avoiding any potential problems or issues.
The hosting resources found in cloud hosting are another excellent choice if you want to upgrade or expand your website in the future.
These are great for web admins who know what they want their site to do but aren't sure how to implement it.
Many companies offer this service, so it's essential to check whether or not your hosting provider can match cloud hosting specifications.
This is a very hands-off way of creating a website because most providers also handle system updates and support without you needing to lift a finger.
Without this feature, it can be difficult for beginners with limited knowledge to maintain their website, especially when understanding how servers work behind the scenes.
If you're running an e-commerce site, it's generally best to select one closest to your customers' location, so they don't experience any latency issues or long load times for their game.
This can be especially important if you're selling items internationally, as an increase of a few seconds in loading time will make a massive difference in how many people stay on your website.
Free SSL Certificate
I've briefly touched on this before, but it's worth mentioning again since security is essential for any web host.
With SSL certificates, you can encrypt the link between your site and potential customers interested in making a purchase., which can be especially important if you're dealing with sensitive information - such as customer data and credit card information.
The best SSL certificates come with both Domain Validation (DV) and Organization Validation (OV) security levels which are more difficult for hackers to crack during data breaches.
With this, hackers will have to go through another level of authentication or change tactics entirely before they can steal someone's personal information. With this type of certificate, the user will see HTTPS:// in their browser address bar before entering their billing information.
Dedicated Hosting Plans
While shared hosting is an option for many website owners, dedicated hosting offers increased flexibility and control.
This means that you'll have your own space to work with, which comes with its unique IP address (internet protocol), operating system selection, plus additional services like free upgrades.
You will, however, share CPU time, RAM, and bandwidth with other users, but this can vary depending on the type of dedicated plan you choose.
Some may offer unlimited storage options, while others limit it by terabytes (TB). Still, generally, these plans are suited to large corporations who need the power to support heavy traffic like media distribution companies or even various institutions that rely heavily on their technology infrastructure to run day-to-day operations.
Domain Name Inclusion
Having your hosting come with a domain name already included can save you money if it's part of your hosting plan.
The total cost will depend on the type of domain extension you want, but this is an easy way to increase your web presence without added expenses down the road.
Using A Managed WordPress Hosting Service
If you choose to use WordPress, then a managed hosting service optimized for it can be a huge benefit to consider.
Using such a managed solution will allow you to take advantage of the platform's security and speed without having to worry about site crashes or security flaws.
After all, many web hosts support this content management system (CMS) because its user-friendly design makes installation and management much more accessible than other website platforms such as Joomla or Drupal.
This means that these companies already have everything they need to optimize your installation when setting up a blog on WordPress, so there's no reason not to choose one if you decide to use this CMS.
In addition, choosing from a wide range of managed services from various providers ensures better performance over time since they will usually distribute your data across multiple servers.
Most website owners start with shared hosting because it's an affordable option that still offers plenty of flexibility for small-to-medium-sized companies.
For instance, if you are starting and trying to save money on your new business venture, this is usually the first choice you'll want to go with.
However, the downside is that you will share the server space among other users, so there can be periods where things feel crowded due to increased traffic at specific times, like during holidays or special events.
Once your company grows past this stage, though, managed VPS plans are another good option since they offer better performance than shared servers, but they still come at a lower price point.
With these plans, you'll have root access and the option to upgrade more quickly than with a shared hosting plan.
The downside is that hosting companies will typically store your data on one server, so all of it can be compromised if something happens.
Whatever you choose, though, carefully review each plan's features and ask the appropriate questions before joining up with any web hosting service. This helps you avoid unwanted fees that could end up costing you even more in the long run.
How To Choose Web Hosting - FAQ
A virtual private server (VPS) is a virtual machine sold by an Internet hosting service. A VPS can have a specific operation system installed and running. Providing a high level of access to its users, there is more control over what can do done on a VPS, as opposed to a shared hosting service.
This makes it ideal for website owners that want to run specific software online.
Most web hosts will claim to be the best web hosts, but choosing the right web host for your needs is not easy. Purchasing shared hosting services can get expensive if you have heavy traffic to your site or many sites hosted on one server. Dedicated server hosting will give you complete control of your site. But, it can also be very costly and challenging to manage. Either way, you will need to find the best web host who can meet your needs at an affordable price. Once you have decided how much power and control you will need for your website, you need to consider other factors in determining the best web hosting company for you.
While a web host might offer a free domain name, it is typically just the cherry on the cake when choosing your hosting provider. Most people already know the exact domain name that will serve as the web address for their site, and they can buy this from many sites on the Internet.
In essence, there are many more essential features to consider when choosing a web hosting provider.
The first crucial factor is cost. While you may desire a free domain name, it might be wiser to spend that money on web hosting services that will keep your site up and running. Look for reasonably priced hosting with enough disk space - if you have an image-heavy site, this can make a huge difference.
Another critical factor is the web host's reputation and reliability. Make sure it is easy to contact customer service - often, this can be your saving grace if your site goes down or you run into problems at 3 am on a Sunday (it happens).
In conclusion, make sure you are prepared before signing up for web hosting. Know your needs, think of how much power and control you will need on the server-side, make a list of questions to ask potential hosts to determine which best meets your needs, and then act on the answers you get.
Also, remember that search engines prioritize sites with fast server speed and uptime, so if your site is down often or has a slow loading time, this can harm your search engine rankings.