Whether you’re a small business owner, a developer, or a blogger, you’ve probably thought about setting up your own website. Oftentimes, we focus on hiring a good developer to build the site, the right platform, and the content to put up on the site. What we fail to spend time on is making sure the web hosting service provider you choose is the right one for you.
First of all, what is hosting?
Web hosting is a service that allows organizations and individuals to post a website or web page on to the Internet. When Internet users want to check your website out, all they have to do is type in your website address (or domain name) into their browsers. Once they hit the Enter key, their computers will then connect to your server and your webpages will be delivered to them through their browsers.
To ensure that your website is accessible to your audience, you’ll need to have a stable web host. Below is a guide to help you in choosing the right web hosting service provider. You can thank us later!
Know what you need
The first step to making a decision regarding web hosting is assessing your needs. Answer the following questions:
- What website are you building?
- Are you going to use WordPress?
- Do you need Windows applications?
- Do you need support for script (PHP, etc.)?
- Do you need special software for your website?
- What is your expected volume of traffic?
Types of hosting
Apart from assessing your needs, you’ll also need to know the types of hosting so you are informed of what’s available and take a look at which one suits your website needs and goals.
This is perfect for those who are just starting out and need to test out the waters of hosting. This is usually for small blogs or websites.
For growing websites that need more resources and control over their hosting environment.
For businesses and big corporations that require an entire server for their websites to function properly.
For growing websites that expect their needs to change rapidly and require a service that adapt to those needs.
This type of hosting is for website owners that do not have the time or knowledge to maintain a server, but will still require that amount of power. A team of professionals can perform maintenance while they are working on the site.
If you’re really new and have no idea as to how to even answer the above questions or distinguish which type of hosting to choose, the rule of thumb is usually to start small and choose a shared hosting service. You can always choose to upgrade to a dedicated hosting at a later stage.
Features to Consider
Your website’s speed is incredibly important. You would not want to bring your audience to a website that takes a very long time to load. In addition, Google ranks websites based on their speed so having a slow website can hurt your efforts to rank well.
In order for you to make sure that the host can provide the speed they promise, look for the following:
- Solid State Drives which are faster than traditional hard drives
- Location of their servers. Remember: the closer their servers are to your users, the faster they can deliver content
- Content Delivery Network (CDN). Having this will allow your host to deliver your website to the closest possible servers based on user location
Monthly bandwidth and storage
Bandwidth is the measure of how much data flows from your website on a monthly basis. Most hosting companies claim that they offer “unlimited bandwidth,” but this may not always be the case. Make sure to check the terms of service in case there are limits to what you can use per month. It is important that you check this, as going over these limits may cause you any additional fees.
This is also true with storage. Hosting companies may advertise “unlimited storage” but tend to have limits. If you feel like you’ll need bigger storage, you may want to consider going to a service that compress your images so that they don’t take up as much space.
When you start a website, most likely you won’t have any idea of how much space, speed, or bandwidth you will need. It could be less than what you have when you started, or it could be more – a lot more. Because of this, it is almost important that, as a newbie, you take a look at what a certain web host offers in terms of upgrades.
Make sure to check the various plans they offer and see if they offer upgrades, whether they are reasonably priced, and how simple the process of upgrading would be.
One of the most important factors that you should consider, especially in services that require technical skills and knowledge, is customer service. Find out if the hosting company you are looking at has customer service that’s readily available and easily accessible. Do they offer email, chat, or phone support? Take a look at their reviews. See what other people have been saying about their customer service.
Mistakes to Avoid
Buying based on price
We’ve all been there before. The attractiveness of something that’s “discounted” or on sale can be quite irresistible. Be very wary of this, as some companies that offer very affordable prices but tend to cram a lot of users into one server for shared hosting, and this can be quite a burden in the long run.
Trusting the ads too much
Looping back to always checking the fine print in terms of “unlimited” offerings. Most companies do advertise this – and probably for a reason – but always do a responsible check just to be safe.
In addition, companies who tend to focus more on marketing and ads may (or may not) be spending enough money on hardware, support, and all the other more important elements of a web hosting service provider.
Not having a plan in place
Well, this is a giveaway. With anything – especially business decisions – one really needs to be equipped with a plan. Starting small is great, but envisioning growth and where you will be in the next 12 months should be considered. This way, you will be able to evaluate what your needs are and be realistic with what hosting features and services is best for you
When choosing the right web hosting service provider, the best thing you can do is to spend a lot of time doing your homework – research, ask people who have had experience with web hosting, asses your current status.
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