​How to choose a web hosting service?

Teaming up with the right web hosting service is more important than you think. It’s a partnership. Go for the wrong one and you could struggle to get help, experience downtime, or worse. The loss of the initial capital investment can be overshadowed by the damage poor web hosting can cause. Choosing a hosting package doesn’t have to be a chore, just consider these points below during your research phase and you will find that choosing the plan becomes much clearer.

1. Type of accommodation offered

  • Will you need your own infrastructure?
  • Will you need more access or control over your server(s) and website?
  • Not very technical?
  • Would it be easier to let the host take care of the maintenance?

Ask yourself all these questions and more. Whether it’s shared hosting (opens in a new tab)VPS Hosting (opens in a new tab)dedicated hosting (opens in a new tab)or managed hosting (opens in a new tab), look at the advantages and disadvantages of all. Ask yourself what you need and don’t be afraid to ask for advice.

It is also important to ask yourself, are you going to create your own website? This is something that will require a lot more know-how besides basic HTML. A better option for beginners is to employ the best website builder (opens in a new tab) software platforms, such as Wix, Weebly, Shopify, Squarespace or any of the others. Some hosts bundle them into their standard package.

2. Support

  • What support channels are available: email, forums, live chat, phone, 24/7 or office hours?
  • Are they based in the US or overseas?

If anything happens to your server or website, from technical errors to DNS attacks, you need to be able to quickly remedy the situation. It becomes more pressing depending on your website. For example, if you run an e-commerce site, you will lose money every minute you go offline. So make sure the rack is right for you.

Make sure the support you’re looking for happens across multiple channels. You may not always be able to pick up the phone and call, so make sure your selected hosting provider has chat, email, and other means of communication.

Communication is key when you have a problem that needs to be resolved quickly. A host with a US-based customer service and support (opens in a new tab) understands the nuances of working with your business, your customers, and your time zone. There really is power in a personal touch when it comes to customer service and success in solving your problem.

3. Features

  • What features are offered?
  • Does the host use cPanel for one-click installs of selected software?
  • How much storage and bandwidth is available? How many domains can be hosted on an account?

Functionality is important for any website, as is durability. As your website grows and with it the amount of space you need, does the hosting company have the capacity and features to accommodate the growth?

The hosting provider you select should be able to easily move you to the next storage space plan or capacity to meet your business or website needs. One important feature that is often overlooked is scalability – both upgrade and downgrade. This is an important feature because you should be able to downsize if you find yourself in the wrong hosting product that is too big for your website. So make sure you find a hosting provider that gives you the freedom to easily upgrade to the right plan.

4. Server Locations

  • Is the location of data centers important to you?
  • Do you collect personal data on your website?
  • Are you driven by compliance?

If the answer is yes to any of these questions, you might want to consider where your servers are located. Some web hosting providers even allow you to choose the location of your data center. The benefit of choosing your data center is speed and performance.

Resource-heavy websites, large scripts, and even WordPress themes all influence how fast a site loads. These factors also play an important role in website performance and loading times. And for the more eco-friendly, a few green data center providers.

5. Areas of specialization

  • What specific platforms do they specialize in?

By far, WordPress dominates the internet. Several hosts have dedicated WordPress hosting packages and plans (opens in a new tab). If your website’s content management system is WordPress, you should take a close look at managed WordPress hosting plans. That said, there are several other content management systems (CMS (opens in a new tab)) in addition to WordPress and if you want to keep your options open, look for hosts that offer more than one CMS.

6. Security

  • Depending on the nature of your business, you may need to adhere to higher security standards. Will this host meet these expectations? Or would another be better equipped?
  • Are SSL certificates also included?

Likewise, just because you don’t have to meet regulated standards doesn’t mean safety shouldn’t be a factor in your decision. The internet is a tough neighborhood and you need to make sure your hosting company has proper measures in place to protect your server and website. In the end, you may be the one to blame if something goes wrong.

Also, while the Let’s Encrypt Project (opens in a new tab) provides SSL certificates for free, it will be much more convenient if your host allows you to add one to your website without much effort.

7. Prices and General Online Reviews

  • How much do they charge and how does it compare to other hosts on your shortlist?
  • Is price a factor or do you mind paying a little more for a more comprehensive service?
  • What are the renewal fees? Do they offer long term subscriptions?

Since you don’t change web hosts every day, some nifty web hosts offer their plans at incredibly low prices in an attempt to lure you in. More often than not, they compensate by charging you a dramatically high revolving price. So be sure to not only consider the initial cost, but also the cost of subsequent renewals.

Additionally, while feedback from users with similar requirements to yours is certainly ideal, many general negative user reviews can be just as telling.

Research the company itself and the services it offers. Although you’re more likely to find negative reviews about a company, problems with previous users can indicate whether you want to trust the hosting company with your website.

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