Peter Lapham

How to choose the right web hosting

How do we decide if a web host is good? Are bandwidth and disk storage features still important today? What kind of hosting service should you go to? Let me help you find the answers to these questions and more. I will guide you along the way with a complete guide accompanied by a checklist 16 specifically designed to ensure that everyone knows exactly how to choose the right web hosting.

Table of Contents

There are so many factors involved in this that it could overwhelm most people. Here is the list of points to examine before withdrawing your new web host. • Know your hosting needs • Check the reliability of the server and the uptime guarantees • Hosting of upgrade options • Domain number addon • Register prices vs renewal prices • Refund policy and free trial period • Essential hosting features • Functionality and support for e-commerce Control panel • Account restriction • Environmental courtesy • Email hosting ( • Subscription period • Site backup • Live chat / phone support • Server reactivity Know your hosting needs

You can never have the right web host without knowing what you need. So, before you go any further, put everything aside (including this guide you're reading) and think about what you really need. • What kind of website are you building? • Want something common (a WordPress blog, maybe)? • Do you need Windows applications? • Do you need support for a specific script (eg PHP)? • Does your website need special software? • How big (or small) is your web traffic volume? These are some of the basic questions you must answer for yourself. Imagine in your mind what you want your website to be now, then continue to build that idea until you are more or less 12 months before that. Don't just consider what you want to offer, but also what you want or need. This ultimately boils down to a very simple fact. How many resources will your website need? If you are running a personal blog or a small or medium-sized website, it is unlikely that you will need the additional features of a VPS host. If you are using a large company server or perform many e-commerce tasks, you may need a VPS or a dedicated server to handle more traffic and extra reliability. At the end of the day, each choice has its level of cost and its characteristics, even among the two categories of web hosting that I have described here. The attention must be paid for the details and corresponds to the requirements of your website.

If you are totally new...

For beginners, the simple rule is to start small with a good shared hosting account. A shared hosting account is cheap, easy to manage and sufficient for most new sites. It also allows you to focus on creating your site without having to worry about other server-side tasks like database maintenance and server security. Alo, because hosting plans are scalable nowadays, it's better to start small and increase your site traffic. It will be cheaper and will allow your management skills to adapt naturally to your website traffic.

Reliability Server / Up-time scores

Nothing is more important than having a 24 × 7 web host; after all, your visitors could come to your site from time zones around the world. You need a web host that is stable, both in terms of servers and network connections. 99.95% is considered a norm these days, even for shared hosting accounts; any value less than 99% is not acceptable . Premium accounts often have 99.99% or better uptime. There are several ways to get the web host's uptime information. The easiest way to do this is by reading our hosting reviews - where we publish the uptime records from time to time .

Server update options

There are different types of hosting servers available on the market: Shared, VPS, dedicated and cloud hosting.

Shared hosting

Shared hosting is often the best choice for beginners, bloggers and personal website owners since it is the cheapest form of web hosting, which costs around $ 5 - $ 10 a month. With shared hosting plans, you will share your server's resources with other users, which means you will pay less for hosting as the cost is shared among other users.

Who should go with shared hosting?

Generally, if you're receiving less than 5,000 visitors a month, it's best to choose shared hosting. When your website gets bigger and you get more visitors, you may want to switch to a more powerful server.

VPS Hosting

A Hosting Virtual Private Server (VPS) is similar to shared hosting as it shares a physical server. The difference is that you have your server resources that are separate from other users. With VPS hosting, it is substantially a step forward compared to shared hosting in terms of power and speed, but it is still cheaper than obtaining your own dedicated server. Depending on the CPU and memory (RAM) obtained, VPS hosting can cost anywhere between $ 50 and $ 200 a month. Cloud hosting Cloud hosting combines hundreds of individual servers together to function as a giant server. The idea with cloud-based web hosting is that it is possible to easily scale and update server needs when needed. For example, if you suddenly find yourself facing an unusually large amount of web traffic, you don't have to worry about being shut down as the hosting company can easily handle the wave of traffic by adding more server resources. The price for cloud hosting tends to vary as they normally use a form of a pay-for-what-you-use price structure.

Dedicated hosting

Dedicated server hosting is when you have an entire physical server dedicated to your website. Not only do you have full control of your server's resources, but you don't even have to worry about other websites absorbing your resources and slowing down your website. For websites that are larger and have a greater presence, a dedicated server is generally recommended to manage the high amount of traffic. The cost of a dedicated server is significantly higher than the shared host and you can expect to pay from $ 100 and over a month. Useful tip: Shared web hosts are powerful and usually sufficient for new users. If you expect your website to grow very fast, consider private virtual server (VPS) or dedicated collection for more processing power, memory capacity, disk storage and perhaps even advanced security features. Reliable hosting companies that offer all four hosting options (Shared / VPS / Dedicated / Cloud) include: A2 Hosting , InMotion Hosting and SiteGround .

Multiple Add-on domains

Domain names are cheap - It is so cheap that it is often difficult to resist not owning more than one. I personally own multiple 50 domain names in my GoDaddy and NameCheap accounts - and I'm not alone. According to this Web Hosting Talk survey - 80% of voters have more domains 5 and more than 20% of voters have more than 50! To host these additional domains, we need additional hosting space. This is why it is important to have a web hosting account that allows the addition of multiple domains.

Search for a web host with more than one 50 add-on domain

In general, most budget-friendly shared hosting companies allow at least 25 * add-on domains in an account nowadays, but you can never be sure. Some years ago I was careless and I registered on a web host that allows only one domain. Unfortunately, I was holding more than 10 domains parked at the time. Do not repeat the error: check the domain capacity before making a purchase. Useful tip: Addon Domain = separate website with a different domain that can be hosted on the web host; Parked domain = additional domain that "park" for forwarding the domain or hosting email. Register vs Renewal Price

Hosting offers, especially for shared hosting, are usually cheaper when signing up . Remember though that these often have a much higher renewal price, so be careful before clicking "buy" on that plan that offers you a subscription price at 80% discount! This is an industry standard. Unless you're willing to jump between two or three web hosts every two years, there's no way to avoid costly renewal costs. In our guest reviews , we deduce the point for hosts that increase their price by more than 50% upon renewal. But generally I agree with companies that renew with a price drop of less than 100%, which means that if you register a host for $ 5 / month, the renewal fees should not go over $ 10 / month. To avoid unpleasant surprises, check the ToS and make sure you are comfortable with the renewal rates before registration. Helpful Hint: A quick way to do this is to click on the ToS link of the hosting company (usually at the bottom of the home page), press Ctrl F and look for the keyword "renewal" or "renew".

Refund policy and free trial period

If you choose to cancel your hosting plan within the trial period, does the company provide a full money-back guarantee? What is the hosting company's reimbursement policy at the end of the trial period? Are there any cancellation or extra fees? These are some basic questions that you should get answers to before registering. It's important to know how your hosting provider handles customer repayments so you don't lose too much money if things go wrong. There are some hosting companies that charge absurdly high cancellation fees when users cancel their accounts during trial periods. Our advice? Avoid these hosting providers at all costs! On the other hand, some hosting companies offer reimbursement guarantees at any time in which it is possible to request a proportional reimbursement at the end of the trial period (voucher eh?). Essential features in a web host

Of course, some things like file management and site statistics are almost always there, but also keep an eye on ftp / sftp, a click installer and DNS management. Also, there should be a file manager - make sure you can edit the .htaccess file from there.

Installer with one click

One-click installers are available in various formats, such as Softalucous or Simple Script . In either case, the goal of the one-click installer is to make life a lot easier. It is a kind of installation wizard that allows you to install items like WordPress, Joomla, Drupal or a number of other Web applications. All you need to do is fill in some names and maybe specify a directory or so along the way.

FTP / SFTP access

FTP / SFTP access is invaluable for moving large numbers of files securely. Some hosts try to get away with just the file manager, but it's usually pretty limited.

Access to .htaccess files

The .htaccess file is also extremely powerful and can help you make administrative changes at the site level. It controls almost everything, from redirects to authentication and password management, and will be crucial at some point in your future activities. Unless you are registering on a specialized Web host like WP Engine and Pressidium (these are mainly WordPress hosting), these basic features are indispensable. MUST NOT settle with hosting providers that do not provide them.

E-commerce functionality

• Are you using an e-commerce site? • Are you using a specific cart software? • Do you need to process business transactions on your website? • Do you need special technical support (eg PrestaShop Guide, or so on)? If so, it is important to choose a web host with sufficient support for e-commerce features. SSL Certification , dedicated IP and one-click shopping cart software installation are some of the essential features / supports you will need. An easy to use hosting control panel

An intuitive control panel with extensive functionality is very important, since it is the brain of your hosting account. It doesn't matter if it's cPanel or Plesk or even a third-party control panel (like the one offered by GoDaddy), as long as it's easy to use and has all the necessary functions. Without an adequate control panel, you will be left at the mercy of the hosting technical support staff, even if all you need is a basic service.

Account suspension: what are the limits?

Here's a hint in cash that most hosting review sites won't tell you: hosting companies will switch off and suspend your account if you're using too much CPU power or you're breaking the rules.

The reality of unlimited hosting

You may have found the term "Unlimited Hosting" on some of the most popular web hosting providers. Unlimited hosting is a password that has been used by many shared hosting providers to describe their ability to offer unlimited memory and bandwidth. Unfortunately, more unlimited hosting solutions are much more limited than you think. Here's the point, an "Unlimited Hosting" plan is "unlimited" only when you use less of the available server resources. Contrary to popular belief, bandwidth and storage space are not those that tend to be limited by companies. Instead, it is the CPU and the memory that are imposed with limits. For example, a website with 5,000 visitors per day may not be able to handle traffic if there is a limit to memory and CPU power, although server bandwidth is sufficient. It is not uncommon for companies to include in their ToS limitations on the simultaneous connection to the database or on the number of CPU cycles that an account can use. It is basically similar to an all-you-can-eat buffet, as the hosting provider gives you access to "unlimited" resources but you will only use a reasonable amount.

The devil is in the details

While there are limits to "unlimited" plans, it is still quite high. Reading the fine print on a company's Terms of Service (ToS) will give you a clearer definition of the limits they impose on unlimited hosting services. You will be told somewhere in the terms and conditions that your account may be suspended or closed for excessive use of resources - they simply will not tell you how much. It is also fairly certain that almost ALL web hosts will not tolerate illegal file and / or service hosting. So if you're planning on running a website that allows people to download pirated files, you're probably unlucky for the most part.

Knowing the limits of your account helps you understand two things:

1. How generous (or mean) are your web hosts in the shortlist? Should you go with this or with another host with slower restrictions? 2. How transparent is your hosting company? Can you trust the words that come out of your hosting company? The most honest hosting companies generally have very clear guidelines on account limitations and their terms of service.

Environmental courtesy

Having an eco-friendly website hosts a primary concern for some webmasters. According to scientific studies , a web server produces on average more than 630 kg of CO2 (which is a lot!) And consumes 1,000 KWh of energy each year. A green web host on the other hand, theoretically produces zero CO2. There really is a huge difference between a green web host and a non-eco-friendly web host. If you are interested in the environment and want to reduce the carbon footprint attributed to your company or yourself, choose a web host that works with renewable energy (or at least, a web host that compensates its energy consumption through green certificates).

If you want to host e-mail accounts together with your website, you need to review the e-mail features before registering. Most hosting companies will be able to host their own email (something like ) but hey, it's always better to check and be sure of it, yes? In the event that e-mail features are not provided, no major problems. There are several ways to have an e-mail account in your domain. Suite G , for example, is a service offered by Google that allows you to manage your e-mails, hosted on their servers. Start at $ 5 per user per month.

Subscription period

Don't be surprised if you discover that some web hosts force their customers to enter into unreasonably long contracts. Lunarpages, for example, changed its pricing structure in June 2009 and attracted customers to take a 5 hosting contract to enjoy the $ 4.95 / mo deal. Lunarpages no longer offers such an agreement, now the case can still serve as an example. Should you engage in long-term hosting contracts? Our answer is no - Never sign up with a web host for more than two consecutive years, unless they offer clear information at any time about refund guarantees. Helpful Hint: Hosting companies usually offer better deals when users choose longer subscription periods. The discounts are fantastic; but I strongly recommend users not to pay in advance for more than 2 years. Technology develops rapidly and you may find your needs very different in a short space of time. Site backup

Computers crash, equipment fails, these are the facts of life even if death and taxes are. Your site will also be vulnerable to these factors, or perhaps a hacker has entered your WordPress blog and replaced your index.php file. Perhaps your entire database has been blurred. If your web host regularly backs up your site, there is nothing to worry about when these incidents occur. Your hosting provider should be able to restore your complete site in the blink of an eye (or at least, a large chunk of it). On backups, here are some key questions to ask your web host: • Does your web host regularly provide full backups? • Can the site be backed up manually via the control panel? • Can you create automatic backups of your site easily via cron jobs or other programs? • Is it possible to restore backup files yourself in a simple way, so you don't have to wait for the support staff to do it for you during a disaster recovery period?

Live chat or telephone support

I personally prefer live chat via phone and web hosting companies with full documentation (so I can only read and solve problems by myself). But it's just me. You may prefer assistance via email or phone. Ultimately, we want someone who can throw us a life preserver instantly after pressing the SOS button.

Server response

We do not mean whether your hosting company answers you quickly or not! Reactivity is a measure of how long it takes for someone to enter your domain name until the server recognizes this request. Often known as Time To First Byte (TTFB), the server's response speed is more than self-gratifying for having the site load faster. It has been documented that the more a user expects a website to upload, the more likely they are to leave the site before it finishes uploading. The speed of your website also affects how Google and other search engines rank you in search results. This is rarely something that a web hosting company will tell you. A common guideline is often the price. The best equipment and infrastructure does not come cheap. If your host can afford to charge $ 2 a month for hosting, things are getting a bit suspicious.

Wrapping: the flesh of a man is a poison of another man

I'm not sure 100% if the idiom is right for the title, but I think you understand what I mean. The fact is that there is never a fixed solution for one 's web hosting needs . I would not recommend to free web hosts if you are starting a huge e-commerce site. I definitely wouldn't recommend expensive WordPress managed hosting if all you need is an easy to manage web host to manage a small hobby blog.

Different websites have different needs.

When you are comparing and choosing a hosting service provider, remember that what you want is to collect the web host that best suits your needs. It is not about finding the best web host in the world; rather, it is about finding the RIGHT web host or web hosting company for you.

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