We’ve all been there. Facing a similar scenario, how do you find not just a good web hosting provider but a great hosting provider? For any blogger, site developer or business owner finding the perfect provider is what we all want. You may liken it to finding that perfect partner, reliable, dependable doesn’t cost you the earth. Someone that is going to be there when you need them the most!
Finding the perfect web hosting provider isn’t all that dissimilar. At its core you want a web hosting provider that is reliable & dependable. You want your pages to load fast, with little or no downtime. You also want to get good value for money.
So what aspects should you consider when choosing a web hosting provider?
1. Understand the different types of hosting
When choosing web hosting there are different types of hosting. In a nutshell you have Shared Hosting where users will share the server resources between other sites hosted on the server. This is by far the most popular, due to its relative low cost. Next up you have VPS Hosting like Shared Hosting you will have multiple sites on one server, however unlike Shared Hosting you will have your own virtual isolation within the server with your own dedicated resources (RAM & CPU). Finally you have a Dedicated Servers this where you rent a whole server to yourself. This is going to be. The most expensive option to go for. For the purpose of this guide we will focus on Shared Hosting services.
Now you understand the different types of hosting, we need to determine the features that we may need.
2. Storage (Web Space)
Web Space is the amount of storage a particular plan provides. In a modern hosting environment generally the amount of web space provided will be more than most average websites need. As drives become larger the amount of storage web hosting providers offer has also increased.
For most small – medium business websites a couple of gigabytes of storage will be more than enough. For larger sites or those that may want to upload lots of large files or videos then you may want to look at services that provide more. Many web hosting guides will tell you to avoid ‘Unlimited Storage Web Hosting’. In reality there is nothing wrong with these as long as you are aware that you will be bound to a ‘Fair Usage’ policy. If you read the particular provider’s T&C’s then you will get an indication on what that particular provider considers ‘fair’. If you think that you may go over or don’t want to risk it then choose a web host that sets clear limits.
Bandwidth is essentially the amount of traffic and data that you can transfer between your site and users within a given month. For example of you had a webpage that was 1mb in size and your hosting provider included 100 mb of traffic then essentially can receive 100 views before you go over your limit. The larger or more busier your site the more bandwidth your site will require. As with unlimited storage hosting. Many providers offer unlimited bandwidth. Like web space this is bound by ‘Fair Usage Policies’ these are in place to prevent large sites hogging server resources from other sites on the server.
Regular backups should be an integral part of any website’s routine. Whilst we cannot stress the importance of creating your own backups. Many providers offer hosting with website backups as part of their service, which can be extremely useful if you overwrite the wrong file of if a recent update has gone wrong. Having a backup can literally save you hours if things do go wrong. Whilst many providers offer website backups there are some that offer website backups as part of the service.
5. Operating System
For most users the choice of operating system won’t really make much of a difference. However if you are looking to or have a site developed in ASP.NET you will want Windows based web hosting. Most web hosting companies provide options for Windows or Linux based hosting. Windows based hosting tends to be slightly more expensive. Linux powers just under 70% of the worlds websites making it undoubtedly the most common choice when it comes to web hosting.
Most web hosting companies will claim to offer at least 99% uptime but that still means that they are down for 1% of the time. For every minute a web server is down is time visitors cannot access your website. Server downtime can lead to lost business, effect your search rankings and generally an irritation to both you and your site visitors.
A slow website can mean more than just frustrated visitors. Slow page load times can also effect your rankings within search engines. Site speed can be down to numerous factors including poorly written scripts or plugins. However so can overloaded servers if you feel that your hosting provider is not up to scratch or you are experiencing slow page load times. Speak to your provider, they may be able to move your site so a more stable server or even track down what may be causing the slow load times.
Being able to get hold of support when you need it is a must for any business. But finding the right kind of support can be just as important. If you require 24/7 telephone support you may need to opt for a provider that offers a premium level of support. For some users responsive ticket based or live chat can be sufficient. The level of support that you require will be down to your personal requirements and abilities.
Price can an extremely important factor when choosing a web host. However finding the right provider to fit your budget can be one of the most difficult. Many providers offer low cost plans that are ideal entry level plans. These generally offer slightly less bandwidth or space than some of the headline plans. However they are usually sufficient for new or smaller websites. Most web hosting companies will offer you the option to upgrade to one of their larger plans as your site grows. This will generally involve no downtime.
Finding that perfect web hosting provider doesn’t need to feel like a daunting task. Sites like ours are designed to help make finding a web host less of a daunting task. Making the most of the reviews, can make the difference between choosing the good or bad host.