A website has become the primary gateway through which customers learn about and interact with businesses. Choosing a reliable hosting provider for your website is the first step to establishing an online presence without which you can barely even begin to compete for customers.
Ask yourself – what is your first go-to when you’re in need of some kind of service? For most people, the obvious answer is the internet. This need to be connected outlines the importance of having a reliable hosting provider that will ensure the quality of service your users will receive.
Where to Begin?
The whole prospect of starting a website and finding a hosting provider for your future business empire may appear to be a daunting task.
The easiest place to begin, judging the merits of a hosting provider, is, of course, the price of the service.
For a nominal fee, most hosting providers will get you a domain name and all the essential web hosting services. In other words, paying as little as $7–$10 a month will get you a dedicated IP address, the necessary security certificates, business emails, and website builder tools, just to name some.
Advanced features are the spice of life (at least as far as websites are concerned). But as you would expect, they require you to pay some additional fees on top of the base subscription plan. Things such as scripting support or specialized infrastructure tailored to the specific needs of your business fall under this category. So choose the hosting provider that offers most or all the features that you need.
Make sure to communicate your needs to the service provider of your choice. You should be as transparent as possible about what you want.
Speaking of voicing your concerns, always look for web hosting providers that offer 24/7 customer support. Technical problems are far too common, and usually, there’s little you can do about them, so a dedicated support team is a must-have.
Free Web Hosting
Finally, it’s vital to mention that there are some free hosting options out there. As you’ve probably already guessed, they attract a lot of attention from website owners who don’t like to spend much. However, free hosting services are highly unpredictable. They could end up costing you a lot more than if you had simply opted for a monthly fee.
Free hosting providers make their income through ads that they post on websites hosted on their servers. Depending on the kind of ads they use, your site’s security can suffer. Not to mention that they have unreliable uptimes. Also, these providers often lack any semblance of customer support, which could prove a recipe for disaster for your business.
One essential piece of information you should know about a host is where they’re located.
The location of the server influences many aspects of hosting. The closer it is to your target audience, the faster the loading times will be for them. This proximity to your users can also positively influence SEO rankings.
The internet connection speeds and the prices of servers also vary from one place to another. That is why there is a significant price discrepancy between providers, depending on the location of the server.
Some countries, such as the Netherlands, are perfect hosting destinations, thanks to laws and regulations protecting data privacy. There, you are able to run websites with content that might otherwise be illegal in your country.
Most commonly prohibited websites are the ones with adult content or online casinos. With hosting providers like Vicetemple, you can get around adult content bans. Likewise, these services might be your only way to navigate the waters that your government deems inappropriate.
Just as Important Considerations
While knowing how much money you need to set aside for your monthly subscription fee is all well and good, it is only a start. There is more to choosing the right hosting provider for you than that.
First and foremost, not all servers are created equal.
Hosting providers usually offer three categories of servers:
- Shared. Perfect for smaller businesses that don’t expect an overwhelming amount of traffic. Shared servers store multiple websites on a single piece of hardware.
- Dedicated. As opposed to the cheaper, shared servers, dedicated servers host only a single website. These are more expensive, though. However, they guarantee you access to all the power at the server’s disposal.
- VPS. Virtual Private Servers are a scalable cloud-based version of shared servers. They appeal to customers with varying degrees of need for features and functionalities.
Selecting the server best suited to your needs will make sure you’re not overpaying for features or performance you don’t need.
The infrastructure that the server is running on can make or break users’ perception of your website.
Solid-state drives (SSDs) possess superior access time and lower latency. Any provider using them over hard drives has an immediate advantage. Service providers such as AbeloHost offer SSD webspace even with the most basic subscription package.
It is not just the physical storage that’s crucial. Other specs of server computers matter as well, such as the random-access memory (RAM) and the processor.
As far as RAM is concerned, most hosting companies nowadays are well-equipped and provide enough resources. Look out for hosting providers who overload shared servers with more users than reason allows. So ask your provider about how many websites they allow per shared server and how much CPU and RAM they allocate to each one.
Speaking of CPU, quad-core units are already staples. Intel Xeon is the star of web hosting, and any provider offering it to their customers is at an advantage.
Last but not least, the amount of data your website can deliver to users requesting it, or bandwidth, is just as vital as all other specifications. The higher the bandwidth, the faster all the user interactions with your website are processed. If you’re starting a streaming website, for example, you’ll need a package with high bandwidth that can handle video streaming.
The most important step is planning ahead. In order to find the web hosting provider that suits all your needs, you must know what those needs are. Think about the volume of traffic you expect, the money you’re willing to spend, and potential expansions in the future. What and how much of it do you need?
The Takeaway is This
Take your time finding the right hosting provider. Planning is crucial to making sure both you and the provider know what to expect from the website, so don’t rush it.
Make sure you understand what your website requires, and don’t settle on a host that doesn’t seem to fulfill all its needs. Ask about:
- Specifications of the server
- Website scripts
- Customer Support
Let your potential provider know what you want, be clear, and your relationship will be long and mutually beneficial.