Designing and building a website requires a decent amount of work and not a small amount of money. You should invest in a team of people who know what they’re doing and have ways of delivering top-notch user experience.
However, all your work can go to waste if you decide to overlook the importance of a reliable hosting provider. What good is a well-designed and neatly packed website if no one gets to see it?
Imagine showcasing your unique, state of the art website to your clients and it suddenly goes down. Suffice it to say that people won’t be overly impressed by an unresponsive site hosted on a shoddy server who knows where.
The goal of this introduction is not to scare you away from running your own website. On the contrary, the purpose of this entire article is to teach you the value of planning ahead and choosing the right hosting provider.
Each website needs to be hosted on a server somewhere before it can become part of the world wide web. Hosting companies are tasked with providing all the infrastructure your website needs to operate and to exist online. It’s up to you, however, to determine which hosting provider is the right one for your new site.
Continue reading to find out all you need to know about what separates good hosts from incredible ones. You will also learn about the features you should be on the lookout for.
We can divide the factors that make a great hosting provider into three major categories:
Of course, there’s more to the story of choosing a reliable hosting provider than that, but those three factors are an excellent start.
You shouldn’t overpay for hosting features that you don’t need. The price is a crucial factor when deciding which hosting is right for you. Think about how much traffic you expect from day one. Will you need a server with cutting edge tech to sustain all that traffic? Or will a smaller, but scalable server suffice?
All of those things affect the price you’ll pay for hosting. Make sure to get exactly what you need. Ask your host if it’s possible to upgrade to a more powerful server, should you need it.
If you’ve already done some research, then you’ll know that free web hosting is a thing. While it might be satisfactory for certain types of websites, most professionals give free hosting a wide berth.
Free web hosting providers offer no guarantees on website uptime, meaning they can take the servers down as often as they please. Ultimately, they can simply shut down their operation without even giving you a fair warning. Of course, not every free hosting provider is like that, but you should be aware of all the possible problems you sign up for by giving free hosting a chance.
In terms of where the server is located, we can make a distinction between onshore and offshore hosting providers. What you often hear is that onshore hosts are the ones located in the same country where you are. As opposed to that, offshore hosts operate out of some other country.
It is a simple distinction, but as is the case with all oversimplified explanations, it skips some crucial details. In reality, offshore hosts are more than just hosting companies from other countries. Take AbeloHost for example — it is a hosting company from the Netherlands, a country with rather liberal laws pertaining to the freedom of speech and better protection of data.
If your country prohibits certain activities, then you want to take your website offshore. When opting for places such as the Netherlands, you’re choosing more reliability, higher security, more freedom to express yourself, and even anonymity if need be.
Besides going offshore to avoid censorship and DMCA claims, you should choose your hosting provider based on the audience you’re trying to target. The closer you are to your users, the better their experience with your website will be, leading to a higher rank on Google. Physical distance matters!
Neither price nor an awesome hosting destination will make up for a server that can’t bear the burden of your website. It’s time to look at the server specifications and their role in the success of your website.
Let’s start with storage, which is the cornerstone of a functioning website. After all, the content of your site must be readily available to the visitors. The amount of storage you need is directly proportional to the size of your website. Smaller websites need less storage, about 2 gigabytes should do. For a medium-sized site, you’ll need around 5 GB. It’s a smart idea to get more storage space than you’ll need, though.
But there’s one more important thing when it comes to storage, and that’s whether it’s HDD or SSD. The latter is the superior mode of storing data and much faster at that, so always look for hosts with solid-state drives (SSDs).
Then there’s bandwidth. It’s the amount of traffic that your website is allowed to have, limited by the hosting provider. It is more difficult to assess how much bandwidth you need, and it largely depends on the site. Movie streaming websites need all the bandwidth they can get for obvious reasons. A blog, on the other hand, does not.
If you’re on a limited bandwidth plan, your hosting provider will ask you to expand it when they notice your website consuming more bandwidth than it should. Many hosting providers offer an unlimited bandwidth plan, but then you have to manage data rates and bandwidth distribution yourself. If you don’t, you can end up losing valuable traffic. Suffice it to say that it’s not the most beginner-friendly option.
Without enough random access memory (RAM), your users will have trouble connecting to the server. Sometimes, they won’t be able to access the site altogether.
However, it’s highly unlikely you’ll be able to estimate how much RAM the website needs by yourself. You could take a look at one of the guides on how to figure out the RAM and CPU requirements. It’s best you consult the hosting provider about the amount of RAM your website should have.
Most hosting providers nowadays promise 99.99% uptime of the server. It’s highly unlikely you’ll find a host that claims either less or more.
This means that your website will be available for 99.99% of the year. In other words, it will be unavailable for 52 minutes on average per year. Always check the hosting provider reviews to see what the users have to say about the company and its uptime guarantee.
Finally, never forget to check if the hosting provider provides frequent backups of its servers. Without backups, you might lose invaluable website data and never see it again.
Which brings us to the next point, and that’s support. Running a website means running into problems you can’t solve on your own. That’s a very simple fact, and also the reason why a support team that’s available 24/7 is a must.
After going through all the information presented here, we hope you understand why determining the minimum requirements of your website is a crucial step in running a successful online business. Without the slightest idea about what your site needs to run unhindered, you’re likely to either overpay or underestimate the site’s needs.
Every website out there needs bandwidth, storage, RAM, and decent hosting. It’s always a good idea for you to establish how demanding your site is going to be and act accordingly.
Never shy away from asking the hosting provider any questions you might have. After all, they might be your next business partner, and that’s exactly how you should treat them.
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