How to Choose Website Hosting
Every business needs to have a great site; a site that is not only great looking, but also user friendly and functional. But above all, that site needs to be responsive and stable.
If your visitors/customers can’t reach you because your site is down, they will go elsewhere. If your website is slow and unresponsive, they will find a quicker one. If your site gives them security warnings, they will find another that makes them feel safe.
If your site’s visitors are not happy, your reputation will suffer. Eventually, you will lose customers and with them money. And there is nothing harder to rebuild than lost trust and damaged reputation. Your job is to prevent this from happening. This is easier than you may think. It is as easy as picking a good hosting provider for your site.
Hosting serves as a foundation for your website. That is the point where everything starts, and it is something to build upon. When you know what to look for, choosing the right host becomes easy.
In this article we will help you understand what a great hosting provider needs to offer. After reading it, you will have all the information needed to make this choice. And we will also offer you some examples.
What to look for when choosing web hosting?
Start with shared hosting
Most web hosting providers offer 3 types of hosting- shared, VPS, and dedicated server. The option you choose depends on your website’s size and traffic. VPS and dedicated servers are great options for bigger sites, but they come at a higher price.
If you opt for dedicated hosting, you will get the full power of a single server (computer) at your disposal. It will give your website the best possible performance. But this is a premium option, as it is the most expensive. It will only be viable if your website gets more than 100,000 visitors each month.
The second option is VPS hosting. This is a special type of hosting, as it gives you a portion of a single server. You pay for using a certain amount of cores, RAM, storage, etc. This is a more powerful option than shared hosting and a less expensive option than dedicated hosting. It is good for more technically inclined websites that attract larger traffic. But, for a beginner business VPS hosting is too much.
We think that for you, as a beginner, shared hosting is the best option. The reason why is simple: it’s the cheapest one. But don’t be fooled, this does not mean that your site will suffer. Since it’s early, and you are still on the start of your business career, you probably don’t have a big site. And it hasn’t started to attract too much traffic just yet. A shared host can handle as much as 30,000 visitors per month, which makes it good enough for most websites. This means that the reduced performance of shared hosting will not show, and you will have a fast responding website.
Keep one thing in mind; with hosting, it is always better to start small, especially for beginners. There are always different options where you can invest other that web hosting. And one more thing: your choice is not permanent; if you find shared hosting insufficient, you can always upgrade it to VPS or dedicated later.
Test Customer Support
Customer support matters for any product, but for web hosting, support is more vital than it looks at first glance. This is especially true for beginners and technical novices. Chances are that you will need help more often.
You need to make sure that the hosting provider you choose has a great support team. Ideally, you want them to be based in-house, with direct access to the servers. You want to be able to reach them 24/7/365.
This is something that you need to double check, as most providers will claim this, but in reality, you will have to wait for long periods of time just for your call to get through. You also want to be able to reach them in different ways. Most of the time, you can reach them by phone, email, live-chat, or ticket system; find the way you prefer. It would be very good if your hosting provider had a great website, with a knowledgebase and lively forums. This is a great option if you are the type of person that likes to search for answers yourself and to learn while doing that.
A quick response means nothing if you don’t get the RIGHT answers. This is why you want a hosting provider that has well trained and professional support that will understand your question and offer help promptly. Good support teams will offer many things for free. They will help you setup your website or migrate it to their servers.
The best way to check if a hosting provider has great support is by reading user reviews. Most angry reviews are written because customers didn’t get help when they needed it, or they didn’t get help at all.
Research Reliability and Uptime
Uptime and reliability is the number one criteria you need to consider when selecting a hosting provider. You want your site to be up all the time, no matter what. This is the number one reason why you pay for hosting.
99% and above uptime is the industry’s standard nowadays. But, be careful; almost all hosts promise 99%, but the reality is a bit different. You need to check the REAL uptime of every provider. This number is in many cases different than the number the hosts promise.
For most websites 99.9% uptime is good enough, especially for beginner businesses, like yours. But, if your business needs more, go for 99.99% or 100% uptime; go for that, the more the merrier! This maybe doesn’t sound like much, but 1% difference counts as more than 7 hours of uptime per month. So it adds up.
Also, you want to pick a host that has proven its reputation over the years. You want a veteran that is in the hosting business for a long time and knows what it is doing. Good track record and great reputation are a must, as your site’s reputation depends on this too.
Analyze Guarantees, Policies and Terms
This is the area where you can actually see how honest a hosting company really is. Let’s start with guarantees.
You should consider hosting providers with longer guarantees. This is important not only because you want to be protected longer, but also for one, more sneaky reason. If you don’t need your website to run forever and you need it for some kind of a temporary project, you can get a hosting provider with a longer guarantee, cancel your subscription and get some of your money, if not all, back.
Most hosting providers have at least 30 day money back guarantee, but some offer more than 3x that much. But even if you don’t want to use it this way, staying protected longer gives you more time to test everything up yourself.
When you sign up, don’t be fooled by the prices you see. Many hosting providers try to trap and trick you to pledge long-term by displaying lower prices that are only available if you sign up for at least 3 years. This is true for almost every hosting provider. Also, many have different and much higher prices for renewing your contract.
This is why reading small text is crucial. Lying there, hidden, are nasty buyout clauses and real truths about their renewal policies, guarantees and prices. It is vital that you check and double check everything before obligating for longer periods.
Top 3 Recommended Web Hosts
If your site has anything to do with WordPress, then BlueHost is for you. Why? BlueHost is the number one company recommended by the blogging giants, WordPress. And it holds this position for many years. Also, BlueHost hosts more than 2 million websites, and this makes it one of the biggest hosting providers in the industry.
BlueHost is very user-friendly, which is especially important for beginners who are not that technically gifted. It has a QuickInstall tool that allows you to install many popular scripts and setup everything in no time at all. BlueHost uses the cPanel interface, which is really popular among users.
If safety is your main concern, you will be happy with BlueHost’s security. It has many great features such as anti-spam, and DDoS prevention. Making your customers feel safe is one of the key elements of a great website, and with BlueHost you will accomplish just that.
As a hosting platform, BlueHost is very flexible and it offers variety. Besides its VPS and dedicated server plans, it has 3 shared plans. They range from $3.95/mo to $7.95/mo. Their Prime plan offers the best value. For $7.95/mo, you get unlimited websites, subdomains, emails unmetered website space and bandwidth. You also get $200 worth in marketing credits, excellent feature to boost your website’s visibility. You can also use SpamExperts, Domain Privacy and SiteBackupPro. Also, you get over $80/year in extras. All in all, great value.
The BlueHost support team is at your service 24/7. And, this company has a really great website. There you can find excellent how-to videos and tutorials, user guides and a server-status check option.
If all this wasn’t enough to convince you, go ahead and try BlueHost yourself. You will have enough time to test all out, since they offer a 30 day money-back guarantee.
If you like BlueHost, you will like InMotion. You will find it to be just as good, but also easier to use, although a little more expensive. But if you do decide to pick InMotion, you will be far from disappointed. For the money you pay, you will get a hosting provider that is fast, reliable, with many features. InMotion will be a great foundation for your website.
InMotion takes good care of its technology and data-centers. They invest millions of dollars every year, renewing everything. And this investment shows results, as websites that are hosted on InMotion run up to 40% faster than the competition.
The main feature that sticks out is InMotion’s website builder, named BoldGrid. This will allow you to create and edit your website easily. It has a drag and drop editor with many different templates. With BoldGrid even the technically inexperienced user will be able to make a classy and responsive website. So if you are a beginner but you would like to have more control in your hands, InMotion’s BoldGrid website builder will allow you just that.
There are many different plans that InMotion offers and they go from $4.89/mo and up. But whichever plan you choose, be certain that you will only get the best. Every InMotion hosting plan has high standards; free and automatic backup policy, optimized speed with free SSD storage, unlimited disk space, PHP 7 and OptimumCache, and premium security.
But, if you do find InMotion challenging, don’t worry. Their highly-rated support team is there for you, 24/7, and will provide help with anything you need.
If all this makes you interested in trying InMotion, give it a go. They have a 90 day money-back guarantee, one of the longest in the industry.
With more than 9 million domains hosted, HostGator is one of the biggest hosting providers in the industry. This means that HostGator has a big reputation to keep, and it’s been keeping it successfully, for many years.
HostGator makes sure that everything runs perfectly, at all times. They accomplished this by building their state of the art data centers. They are closely monitored 24/7 and have the latest power backup and fire detection systems installed. This keeps more than 10,000 of their servers up at all time. HostGator guarantees 99.9% uptime, and it provides you with a handy RSS feed to check server status whenever you feel it necessary.
Besides different VPS and dedicated server plans, HostGator offers affordable shared plans. Ideal for beginners is their Baby plan. But don’t be fooled, because this plan is not for babies, it’s very serious. For $5.95/mo, the Baby plan will get you unlimited storage, bandwidth and domain names. Also, you will get $200 worth of marketing credits, which can prove useful if you are just establishing your website. This credit can be used for Google AdWords, Yahoo or Bing marketing services.
HostGator’s award winning support team is very beginner friendly. If you get stuck anywhere, they will gladly offer their help. You can reach them by text and video chat, email and phone. They are available 24/7/365. And since HostGator is one of the biggest providers, their forums are very lively too. They are filled with tutorials and great how-to explanations.
If you are still not sure and are dubious about HostGator, don’t be. It offers a generous money-back guarantee of 45 days. You can try it yourself, risk-free.
There you have it folks, we tried to be as objective as possible. We provided you with the basic information that is essential in order to choose a perfect hosting provider for your business.
We focused mainly on shared hosting, since we think that is the best option to start with. VPS and dedicated servers are great, but the added price is not necessary, especially early in your business career. And, if your website does outgrow shared hosting, you can upgrade anytime.
Also, we have presented you with 3 examples of great hosting. BlueHost, InMotion and HostGator all meet the above mentioned criteria. They all have great support, excellent uptime, fair policies, flexible plans and good guarantees.
Rest assured that you will not regret picking any of those three. They are the best that the hosting industry has to offer.