8 Tips on how to choose the best website hosting (Fast)
There are so many website hosting companies it can be overwhelming and hard to know what is a good choice, it isn’t just about price, there is more to it than that. Making an informed decision will reduce the chance of problems down the track. Here are 8 tips to help guide you into making the best choice when it comes to website hosting.
You are busy and probably don’t have time to research for hours into what might be a good website hosting company for you but it is important to find the right balance between cost, what you get for your money and whether the hosting is appropriate for your needs.
Even if your web designer has offered you hosting as part of the project it pays to ask them what you are getting for your money.
Not all website hosting is the same
If you shop on price alone you are likely to be disappointed at some point or face the fact that the host you have chosen is just not right for your needs. For example if you require hosting for a database driven website and the package turns out to be so basic that it doesn’t offer that facility.
1. Technical specifications
- For the majority of us Linux hosting is what you will be looking for. The other main option is Windows hosting. If your website uses ASP.NET you will require Windows hosting.
- For the more popular website solutions such as WordPress, Magento, Joomla, Drupal etc website you will be searching for Linux hosting.
- Does the hosting package come with mySQL database facilities? Some of the lower cost options don’t.
It may seem like a strange thing to query but if you are located in New Zealand and your target audience is in New Zealand then why would you buy website hosting from America? The attention span of someone visiting your website is roughly 3-4 seconds before that person moves on to the next website. So if your website takes more time to load because it is having to travel around from the other side of the world then you have just lost yourself a potential customer.
Content Delivery Networks (CDNs) Some premium website hosting companies offer a CDN. This is where the content of the website page, images, files etc are stored on multiple servers around the world so that it doesn’t matter where the visitor is located the content can be delivered faster. This is handy if your target audience is worldwide.
3. Reputation, stability, size
Find out as much as you can about the hosting company. Have they got a good reputation and how long have they been running? It is also good to find out what resources they have to give a good indication on their capabilities.
4. Uptime Guarantee
Generally hosts state they offer 99.9% uptime which means they will guarantee that your website is live on the internet at nearly all times. I am not sure whether this percentage is real or just a way of getting more sales, probably the latter. So my advice is to not rely on this as a main reason to go with a particular host, better to rely on other factors.
5. Back up and restore
Does the hosting package offer a back up of your website files and database and what happens if something goes wrong? Do you get charged for having the host restore the website from a back up for you. Is the back up of the website located in a different place to the servers in case the building burns down?
6. Disk space and data transfer (bandwidth / traffic)
How much disk space do you need for your website? Well if you already have a website operational you will be able to obtain that information from your current website host along with the amount of data transfer that you are using. If you have a new website to be launched ask your web designer.
Hosting companies use disk space and data transfer (bandwidth or traffic) as a way to charge for their services. When a visitor views your website the content or data is served to them, this data takes up space down the pipe and uses resources. The more visits you get to your website the more space you need down the pipe.
Although you can, there is no real need to calculate how much bandwidth you need because if you exceed the allowed amount the hosting company will soon tell you and will upgrade your account to suit your needs better.
7. Email hosting
Personally I don’t recommend using email services that are lumped in with website hosting, there are many reasons but one is that if one goes down then so does the other. Websites going down is one thing but not being able to send business emails is catastrophic.
I use and recommend using Google Apps for Work for your email solution. There are many dedicated email hosting providers out there but I find that Google Apps has the right balance of services (email, calendar, storage) for the cost.
Of course you can use the free services such as Gmail, Yahoo etc but I don’t think it looks very professional. It is much better to have an email address that is firstname.lastname@example.org.
If anything goes wrong with your website you need to know that there is help, quickly and efficiently. Some of the lower cost hosts offer support only by means of an online chat system or an email ticketing system which might not always be enough if the proverbial hits the fan. If you combine that set up with the fact that the host company is a totally different timezone then things can really get ugly.
It is important to realise that the website hosting company are there to provide hosting and nothing more. The hosting company don’t provide support for you to learn how to maintain the content of your website or how to use your website to drive business. They are there to ensure your website is online 24/7 but don’t have any part in keeping your website up to date.
We offer our clients Website Care and Support Plans which address hosting, care and support of your website. Read more about our Website Care and Support Plans.
What problems have you experienced when trying to choose a website hosting company?