The Most Important Factors When Choosing a Web Hosting Provider
Before you can setup a website, you need a web host. With so many hosting companies out there, how do you know which one to choose? Even seasoned website designers and savvy digital marketers can have difficulty picking the right web host provider. Here are a handful of tips that will help make the choice easier.
What Are Your Needs?
Before you can choose the best web hosting provider, you need to decide exactly what you're looking for in a host. Have a 12-month plan that includes:
- The type of website you're building.
- Whether or not you need e-commerce support.
- The applications and software you'll need.
- The amount of web traffic you're expecting.
- The number of websites you're going to build.
- Your budget.
By knowing your main areas of focus, you can find a hosting plan that best suits your needs. Not all customers are created equal and neither are all hosting packages. You may be a small business now, but if you're looking to scale quickly, a shared plan may not offer enough for you. The hosting providers that big companies use may sound good at first, but they could be a bad fit if you have a small blog. Go with a service that provides hosting plans for your type of business.
Keep in mind that starting with a small hosting plan doesn't mean you'll have to find a brand new host as your business starts to scale. The host you choose should have various account levels; when it's time to expand, you can upgrade your plan.
Researching Server Uptime
You want your website to be up and running around-the-clock, so you'll need a web host with a good track record of 24-7 uptime. Track the web host's server uptime. The uptime score should be 99.5% or higher. If it's below 99%, find another host. Also, read user reviews to find out if people had trouble when it came to server uptime.
Regular Site Backup
Even the best web hosting provider is useless if your site comes up against an unfixable problem. There are a number of things that can go wrong with a website, from being hacked to suffering from the server's hard disk failure. You should always opt for a web host that regularly performs site backups. Then, if an incident does happen, you'll be able to use the backup site information to restore it at least in part. When checking out a web host's backup services, consider the following:
- How often does the web host provide automatic, full backups?
- Can you manually perform a site backup from the control panel?
- Is there another program you can use to provide the backup, too?
- Will you be able to restore the backup files yourself or does the support team need to do it?
Hosting Multiple Domains
The best part about domain names are their cheap price tag. It's tempting to own more than one, whether you're going to build multiple websites or direct all the traffic to one site. Even if you only plan on having one domain name at first, chances are you're going to want to add another one or sooner rather than later. To host multiple domains, you'll need extra hosting space. Make sure that your hosting account will support multiple domains, even if setting up extra domains isn't your number one priority right now. For the most part, hosting companies today allow at least 25 domains, so there's no reason to settle for less.
Look at the Cost
It's not difficult to find a cheap hosting deal when you're signing up for the first time. The real price tag you should look at is the renewal cost. Unless you're going to switch to a brand new web host every two years or so, you'll want to make sure that the renewal cost is affordable, for your current plan as well as an upgraded plan. The renewal prices aren't always easy to find because hosting providers tend to hide them. Either check out the site map or type 'renew' into the homepage's search box.
Opt for a Short Subscription
Speaking of that contract, it's best to opt for a shorter one when you're starting out with a new hosting provider, even if you're sure you've found the best web hosting provider possible. Many hosts will try to get you to signup for a long-term contract of five years or longer by promising to offer the introductory renewal rate for that duration. If you end up disliking your host or you need different features in the next couple of years, you'll be tied into a long-term contract that can be difficult to get out of.
Reliable 24-7 Support
The web host you choose should have a reliable customer service department. Also, you should be able to contact them in the ways that are best for you, whether you prefer telephone support, live chat or both. Make sure that customer service reps are available any time of the day or night - if there's a problem with your website, you won't want to wait until 9 a.m. the following morning to have it solved.
Find Out About Their Refund Policy
Even if you do your research, you could still end up choosing a web host you're simply not happy with. Before it's too late, find out about the provider's refund policy. Most hosts will offer a trial period and refund your money in full if you cancel within that period. Make sure that you find out about their refund policy both during and after the trial period, though, to avoid any surprises. Also, find out if you'll be charged to cancel the service either during the trial period or at some point before your contract is up. Some sneaky hosting providers will offer your money back but also charge you a cancellation fee.