Filtering through the seemingly endless lists of web hosting providers may seem like a daunting task. After all, you just want your website to be safely up-and-running so you can focus on your customers and business. When choosing a web host, it is important to keep these things in mind, and you will probably find that looking at these aspects of the various web hosting providers you’re considering will help you narrow down the list.
Type of Hosting
A key thing to consider is what type of hosting you want. The three main types are shared hosting, VPS hosting, and a dedicated server. It’s essentially the difference between riding the city bus, carpooling, or driving your own car to work.
Shared hosting is the city bus scenario. Your website is housed on a server that is shared with many other websites. There are pros to this, such as cost. Oftentimes a shared hosting plan is extremely affordable in comparison to the other two options, but for good reason. You are sharing a single server with a bunch of other sites. This means that if one site is experiencing high traffic or anything else that will demand a lot of the server’s processing power, it is using more of the server’s resources, leaving your site to the possibility of down-time or slower loading speeds.
VPS (Virtual Private Server) hosting is the next step up. It’s carpooling to work with a few friends instead of standing in a packed bus. While this type of hosting is still a type of shared hosting, it is different in many ways. For starters, the physical server is made up of multiple virtual machines, making VPS hosting much more reliable that shared hosting. The resources for the server are divided evenly between all websites, eliminating the problems mentioned with shared hosting. Another benefit to this type of hosting is the scalability of the resources you need. If you are expecting your business to grow, this type of hosting is flexible in your being able to increase the amount of resources you need.
In addition to traditional VPS hosting, there is its sister – Cloud hosting or sometimes called CloudVPS. This type of hosting setup is similar to traditional VPS hosting with the main difference being that instead of one physical server, your site is housed across a network of servers. This results in your site being able to pull as many resources as it needs. Cloud hosting provides another level for scalability, allowing your site and business to grow without worry. One aspect of this hosting that can be considered a pro and con is the cost. You only pay for the resources you use, which is nice, but it can make it difficult for predicting expenses and budgeting.
The last type of hosting is a dedicated server. This is the most expensive type of hosting, but it comes with its perks. Just like you enjoy the independence of having your own personal car to drive to and from work, having a dedicated server is, well, just that. It’s all yours. With a dedicated server you know that 100% of the server’s resources are there for your site. While this may sound like the nicest option, it does come at a price. When deciding between a shared server or a dedicated server, it is important to consider what your business really needs. We will go into detail about the many other features and resources to consider below.
What Resources are Most Important for You?
Once you consider which type of hosting will work for you, the time comes to consider what resources you need. You will find a variety of options with varying numbers listed for things such as storage and bandwidth. It ultimately come down to what your business needs, but don’t simply pick the lowest option. In a study it was found that 66% of respondents say that website performance affects what they think of a business and 35% said they are less likely to purchase from a poor performing site.
The storage provided by a web hosting service is essentially the amount of storage available on the server for your site’s data. If you know your site is in the larger range for size, this will be something you want to make sure you have enough of.
Bandwidth / Speed
You might be wondering “What exactly is bandwidth?” Bandwidth is essentially the amount of data that can be transferred between your site. Not enough bandwidth, and you’ll notice slow load speeds for your site. For example, if you are driving down a 2-lane road with a lot of traffic, it will take you longer to get to your destination. If the same amount of traffic is driving down a 4-lane road, everyone will be able to move at a faster speed and arrive at their destination quicker.
“Uptime” or the percentage of time your host guarantees your site to be up and running is extremely important. After all, if your site is down then you’re not getting customers on your site. If your site is down too much, customers begin to question your reliability and may stop coming back. It may seem like a high percentage, but most recommend that you look for a host that offers 99.5% uptime or higher. To learn more about uptime, check out this article.
Some hosts will only allow you to have one registered domain under your plan and others allow multiple. This is something to check on and consider if you think you will want the flexibility of having multiple domains or subdomains.
You don’t want to overlook this important feature and find yourself in the midst of your peak season with a website that isn’t functioning properly and no idea how to fix it. You want to make sure there is someone who can help when you need it.
Security is Key
The level of security your web host provides is essential to your site’s success. Without good security, your site is at risk of being hacked. When a site gets hacked, it can lead to customers losing trust in your website, cause your site being down for a period of time, and result in lost revenue. Be sure to check the security of your site and make sure it will be protected before choosing a web hosting provider.
Can You Grow with Them?
After finally finding the web host you want to use, getting everything set up, and housing your site with them, the last thing you want is to find that within a short time period you have outgrown what they can offer you. Then you find yourself on the search again and going through the process of changing hosts. To avoid this, make sure the web host you choose is one you can grow with. Make sure they are able to provide you with more resources when you need them and that scaling your site won’t be a problem as your business grows.