Does disk storage and bandwidth matter when you’re choosing a web hosting provider? How do you know if a web hosting provider is any good? What kind of tricks and gimmicks should I look out for? These are probably some of the questions you are asking if you’re in the market for a new web hosting provider and don’t know where to start.
Choosing a web hosting provider can be a tricky business, so it’s best not to dive in immediately before you learn what you should be looking for. This article will walk you through all the elements of choosing a web hosting provider and how to choose the web hosting provider that’s best for your needs.
What Do You Need?
It is best to start out knowing exactly what you need from your web hosting provider. So before you do anything else, take a moment to consider exactly what you will need for your website. These are some of the questions you may ask yourself:
- What kind of website will you be building?
- Do you plan to use a content management system like WordPress?
- If the answer to the question above is yes, what are the requirements for the content management system to be set up properly?
- Will you need any Windows apps?
- Do you have any scripts you need specific support for?
- Will your website require any special software?
- How much traffic will you need to be able to support?
Imagine what your website will be like a year from now, and plan ahead based on that vision. If you’re completely new to building websites, you can skip over this and simply make sure you’re choosing a good web hosting provider that provides shared web hosting. Shared web hosting is a great place to start a new website. Since you’re sharing the server with other websites, you can get an attractive shared hosting account rather inexpensively that will handle most of your beginning web traffic fast and efficiently. The web hosting provider takes care of all the server side maintenance so you can just focus on building your website. If your website outgrows shared hosting, you can easily upgrade to a VPS or dedicated hosting account.
The other web hosting options you could consider are website builders. While there are a lot of options to go for, Wix and Weebly are arguably the leading forces in this industry. But which one is better? Well, you may find your answer this Wix vs Weebly comparison article.
But that’s enough for the website builders. Now we’re going to get into how to find a good shared web hosting provider!
Good web hosting providers keep their servers up 24/7. Since you will have visitors from all over the world, you definitely don’t want your website to be down when they try to visit your page. This can result in a loss of visitors, as well as search engines ranking your website lower in searches because it isn’t constantly up.
99.95% is considered the standard uptime, while anything below 99% is considered to be unacceptable. Make sure your web hosting provider has an uptime guarantee which they back up with money back guarantee if they do not meet this commitment. Pay attention to the fine print as well, since many web hosts will guarantee this upfront but leave loopholes in the terms of service that allows them to get away with not upholding that guarantee. Make sure the guarantee is thoroughly explained in the terms of service – how to redeem it, what time frame it’s good for, how to get in contact with your web hosting provider, etc. Ask questions like if there’s a trial period during which you can get a full money-back refund, if you can get any money back after the trial period has passed, and if there’s any cancellation fees.
You definitely will want upgrade options if your website outgrows your current account. Think ahead to the future and consider if you will need to upgrade, then make sure the options are available to upgrade to what you believe your future traffic may be like. Shared hosting is pretty powerful nowadays, but even the best shared hosting can only support up to 30k-40k visitors a month.
Domains are so cheap nowadays it is almost impossible to resist owning more than one. Even if you only want one domain for now, that may change in the future. So make sure you pick a web host that allows you to have plenty of addon domains. The best web hosting providers will allow you to have 25-50 addon domains or more. Don’t get parked domains confused with addon domains, either – parked domains only mean the web hosting provider will hold that domain for you without it being actively used.
Some web hosting providers will offer you a fantastic deal for your first 1-3 years of web hosting, then jack up the price when it’s time for you to renew. They will offer as much as an 80% discount on your first 1-3 years. Be aware of this, and be wary if the pricing seems too good to be true – it probably is. Look for the fine print to find out what the normal cost of renewing is. If the host jacks the price up more than 50%, look for a web hosting provider that is a little more reasonable in how they approach hosting renewal fees.
There are some essential features you want to look for in a shared hosting plan that make managing your website a lot easier. While file management and site stats are pretty standard, your web hosting provider should offer a lot more than just a stat counter and file manager. Here are some of the features you should be looking out for in your web hosting provider’s services:
One Click Installer
Your web hosting provider should have a one click installer for various web apps. While this isn’t an absolute necessity, it does make installing web apps a lot easier. These one click installers are capable of installing apps like WordPress, Joomla, e-commerce tools, and more with minimum fuss. They also can make full automated backups of your web app installations.
This is a necessity. Your web hosting provider should provide you with FTP/SFTP access to your website so you can manage large numbers of files with ease. Sometimes web hosts try to get away with only providing an online file manager, but this is not sufficient if you need to work with a large number of files.
Your web hosting provider should also give you access to the .htaccess file in your file directory. This file controls everything administratively on your website from redirects to password authentication and management. At some point it will become vital that you have access to edit this file.
If you’re running an e-commerce website, you will want to pick a web hosting provider that supports your needs. You will want to have an SSL certificate (which is offered for free with many good web hosting providers), one-click shopping cart installation, and a dedicated IP. Look for web hosting providers that specifically state their hosting plans are set up to support e-commerce out of the box.
You will also want to make sure that your web hosting provider has a user friendly control panel. You can find out whether a web hosting provider has an easy to use control panel or not by searching for screenshots of it in an image search engine, or by going to a web hosting provider review website like Hosting reviews to see what user reviews have to say about the navigation.
You also will want to know what the web hosting provider’s hosting limitations are before your account becomes suspended. Even web hosting providers that claim you get unlimited bandwidth and disk space have a limit on how much you can use before your account reaches the suspension level. You can find out these details by going over the terms of service.
If you care about protecting the environment, you will want to make sure you use a web hosting provider that is using some percentage of renewable energy sources, like solar powered generators to power their servers. Web hosting produces a huge amount of carbon dioxide, so choosing a web hosting provider that uses renewable energy can help to greatly reduce your own carbon footprint in the services and products you use.
If you plan on sending email from your domain, you will definitely want to make sure your web host includes email addresses as part of your hosting service. While most web hosting providers provide a healthy amount of email addresses as a part of your hosting, there are still a few that don’t. So make sure if you want to send emails from your domain that this is included as part of your hosting package.
Any number of things can happen to corrupt your website’s data. This is why it’s important to make sure you choose a web hosting provider that makes regular daily backups of all their servers. Also make sure that you too can make backups of your website as part of your hosting plan. Some web hosting providers make you pay for backups or limit the amount of backups you can make.
Make sure your web hosting provider gives 24/7 support in the medium you’re most comfortable using – phone, chat, or email. The last thing you want is for your web hosting provider to be unavailable when you run into a major problem with your website.