Website hosting is one of the most critical factors you need to pay attention to when you want to launch a site. A hosting company usually determines how fast your website will be and how efficient it will perform various functions.
The challenge is picking the appropriate company to host your website but before you can do that you need to understand what you are looking for in a hosting company.
What do we need to consider when picking a hosting company?
There are a number of things we should consider before choosing a hosting company:
1. What type of hosting do you want (shared hosting, dedicated hosting, vps hosting or cloud hosting)? and within these types of hosting:
a. their allowed traffic levels (bandwidth)
b. how much storage is provided (and its speed)
c. the processing power of the CPUs
d. their uptime
e. quality of service and customer support
We will briefly discuss each of these hosting types and considerations.
There are several common types of hosting available: Shared Hosting, Dedicated Hosting, Cloud Hosting and VPS Hosting.
Shared hosting is the most economical. It means that there are many websites being hosted on a single server. It is the most common choice for small businesses and individuals. Shared hosting can handle websites that run WordPress for example. This type of hosting can handle up to 30,000 visitors per month. It is a good option if you are just starting out.
A second type of hosting, Dedicated hosting consists of a single website being hosted on a single server. With a dedicated hosting you are not sharing the server or resources with anyone else so you do not have the concern of another website using up the resources and slowing down your own website. With a dedicated server you can configure the setup of the server and customize the software and hardware for your individual needs but with this ability also comes a more expensive price tag. Dedicated hosting can handle up to 100,000 visitors a month.
Virtual private servers share one physical server but act like multiple, separate servers. A VPS is a stepping stone between shared hosting and getting your own dedicated machine. With VPS you are allocated a dedicated amount of the computing resources even though you share the server. The advantage of VPS hosting is that you can scale from small to large websites without having to switch servers. With VPS hosting you are given the option to scale up your computing resources as you need them.
Cloud Based Web Hosting refers to a newer hosting technology that utilizes a number of servers that work together as one giant server. As needs grow, more servers can be added forming “the cloud”. The resources of a number of servers can be used to supply the needs of the websites.
A web hosting company may be excellent for one types of hosting ie. shared hosting but not rated so highly for another type of hosting ie.VPS.
The bandwidth (or traffic) refers to the amount of content sent from your server to a client’s browser. It’s a good idea to calculate the minimum bandwidth you’ll need before signing up for a hosting plan.
The formula: Visitors per Month x Page Size x Pages per Visit equals the Bandwidth Needed.
Example: If your average page size is 1MB, your site gets 10,000 visitors per month and on average visitors go to three pages each, then your bandwidth calculation =:
10,000 Visits x 1MB Per Page x 3 Pages per Visit = 30GB of Bandwidth
Storage refers to the amount of content, data, and files you can store on your server. Usually, websites do not have a tremendous amount of storage needs, but if you are hosting video or large images or user information, you may find this to be a concern. A minimum of 20 gigabytes (GB) of storage available for your web server is a good estimate.
Standard Hard Drives vs. SSD
Also, there are two different types of hard drives used these days. The standard hard drives are usually just referred to as say, “20GB Storage.” The other type of hard drive is referred to as an SSD, this stands for solid state drive. These drives are typically faster than standard hard drives and they may be listed as “20GB SSD”.
Processing power can be a determining factor in choosing a web host, especially if you are looking at dedicated or VPS hosting.
Usually, web hosts will list the number of cores, or CPUs, that are available for each level of service. In general, the more cores that run at higher speeds, the better.
In addition, as you get to more and more complicated hosting, there are multiple options for hard drive configurations. These configurations have to do with making sure a single hard drive failure does not compromise your system.
Uptime is the amount of time the server is successfully operational. If the server is down, then your website will also not be operational. You need to determine the level of uptime that is acceptable for you.
Most hosts list their uptime as a percentage. In many cases, 99.9% uptime is acceptable. There are some businesses inwhich a higher percentage or even 100% uptime may be imperative.
Customer service is also an important feature to consider when picking a hosting company. This could vary from 24/7, US-based support to an email response within 24 hours. They may or may not provide phone support. Do they explain technical issues which is something you may or may not prefer.
Linux vs. Windows for Web Hosting
In over 99.9% of cases a Linux server should be used. Most hosting plans come with great user interfaces that will take care of all of the coding for you. Web hosting control panels provide a graphical user interface and automation tools designed to make complex web hosting tasks much easier. Processes such as creating databases, managing website files, setting up email and managing DNS are all simplified through user-friendly control panels. These are referred to as cPanels.
Major web hosting Players
There are a huge number of companies offering hosting services. I have highlighted several of the bigger and reliable players below which I would recommend.
It is one of the 20 largest web hosts With its sister companies, HostMonster, FastDomain and iPage, they collectively host over 2 million domains.
WPEngine focuses exclusively on WordPress hosting and touts itself as the best for WordPress hosting.
EconomyBasic resources for starter sites.
HostGator is designed to ensure you get powerful web hosting services inexpensively.
They have the ability to host websites belonging to small business as well as enterprises. This means that you can grow with the platform without having any worries.
Two other well known hosting companies with sound reputations include:
Any of the major players are well suited to carry out the basic functions of a host effectively. Although their packages may vary to some degree, they often include:
- A choice of server options
- A choice of level of hosting packages
- A money back guarantee.
- Include a free domain and SSL certification within the subscription
- They rank the best due to their remarkable performance and dedicated support.
- They are also very good when it comes to offering marketing tools for their customers.
- They offer dedicated customer support. This may vary in terms of being 24/7, if phone support is available, or only support through e-mail.
It is best to look at your specific hosting needs and check is hosts site for the details of their specific offers before choosing the right hosting company for you.