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One of the most important decisions you will have to make when designing your website is the choice of a web hosting company. You will find hundreds of thousands of web hosting companies when you do a Google search, but not all of them can be trusted. To a large extent, the success of your online business and website is tied to your choice of web host.
There are several things that can go wrong with your website if you make the mistake of going for the wrong web hosting company. These issues range from problems with website performance to poor security and unhelpful support, and can ultimately undermine your brand integrity, cause you to lose customers and jeopardise your chances of succeeding on the internet.
The purpose of this article is to provide you with a comprehensive guide that will help make the decision-making process easier. In this guide, we will cover the important information you need to know when making the choice of a reliable web hosting company.
Let’s get started.
What is Web Hosting?
Before going further into the topic, let us take a few minutes to cover some background.
As at 2017, the number of websites in the world hit the 1.2 billion mark. Suffice to say, this number has grown a lot since then. These websites represent niches that cover everything from simple hobbies to more complex websites and, every day, they attract millions of visitors. Before a website can be accessed by a visitor, it has to be stored somewhere; this is typically on an internet enabled computer called a webserver. Web hosting is the process of storing a website on a webserver from where it can be accessed by visitors. The term web hosting can also be used for the company that sells and manages the web servers where websites are stored.
After hosting your website on a webserver, you will need to associate it with a unique address called a domain name. This is what a visitor will type in their web browser to land on your web page.
Hosting a website can be likened to moving into a new house. The files that make up your website are your clothes and furniture. However, before you can receive visitors in your new house, you will need to let them know your address. For a website, your address is represented by your domain name.
The different types of web hosting
Now that you understand a bit of what web hosting is, let us talk about the different types of web hosting.
Just as houses come in different types, sizes and prices, so does web hosting. It is important to point out here that the type of web hosting you choose to go for is important, as each is unique in features and ideal only for particular website types.
It can be confusing differentiating one from another or making the right choice, so let’s look at the popular types.
Shared web hosting: In shared web hosting, more than one website is stored on one webserver. These websites together share the server space, server resources and also server cost. Because of this sharing method, shared web hosting is the cheapest type of web hosting; it is also the least reliable. Shared web hosting is suitable for website owners who are just starting their website journey, small websites and websites that don’t generate too much traffic. While there is no problem starting out with shared web hosting, there will come a time when you have to step up, if you want your website to grow.
VPS hosting:VPS web hosting is just one step up from shared hosting, but offers a wider array of server resources, performance and privacy. VPS hosting is simply a system of splitting one webserver into separate independent virtual server units. Even though multiple websites are hosted on a VPS, each of them has an independent server environment and will work better than sites hosted on a shared server. VPS web hosting is ideal for website owners who want the independence and resources that come with a semi-dedicated server. It accommodates high web traffic but demands some level of technical expertise.
Dedicated hosting: Dedicated web hosting is a completely dedicated server environment that hosts only one website. With dedicated web hosting, you don’t share space, resources or anything with anybody, the server is yours alone to customise and use as you see fit; it is also yours alone to pay for. Dedicated web hosting is suitable for large websites that attract heavy traffic and is highly reliable and does not experience performance issues. However, it is rather expensive and requires a high level of technical expertise.
Cloud hosting: Cloud hosting is a relatively new arrival to the web hosting scene. This is a highly efficient system of hosting where websites are hosted on a series of networked servers. Cloud hosting provides top performance, high security and a host of other impressive features. Because of the way it is set up, websites on a cloud hosting platform enjoy 100% uptime. Cloud hosting is also the only scalable hosting modelthat allows you to automatically and seamlessly increase your server resources to suit the current requirements of your website. This means that if you experience an influx of sudden traffic to your website, cloud hosting will automatically push resources to accommodate the spike that would otherwise bring your site down. Interestingly, it is also the only model where you pay only for what you use. Cloud hosting is ideal for a wide range of websites and is the recommended option for both newbies and experienced website owners.
Things to consider when choosing a web host
Choosing a web host is like choosing a new house. You have to be sure that you like the neighbourhood, that the new house has all the requirements you need and that it is somewhere you don’t mind living for a long time.
Just as you spend time considering several factors when choosing a new home, you should also be serious when choosing a web host.
There are dozens of factors to consider when choosing a web host for your business or personal website. As established earlier, the success of your online presence could be tied to your web hosting company. Know that there is no one-size-fits-all when it comes to web hosting. What worked for a friend may not work for you, not because the company is not good, but because it doesn’t meet your immediate requirements.
When it gets to the time of choosing a web host, considering the following factors will give you a better idea of what you need and what to look out for.
Your website needs
Your unique website needs will play a huge role in your choice of web hosting. Every web hosting provider has the basic requirements every website needs to function, but your website may need more than what a particular web host has to offer. If you are creating and hosting a static website, you will not need any special server or software, but dynamic websites, such as online stores, require a special kind of server environment before they can work properly. This is especially true for WordPress websites that require special servers, software and technical expertise, in which case you may need to go for a web host that offers Wordpress hosting. Generally, before choosing a web hosting type and company, find out first if it has the minimum requirements to run the type of website you are creating.
Space and bandwidth
In the beginning, you may not need too much space and bandwidth to run your website, but as your business grows and your website needs increase, you will need more storage and bandwidth to maintain the performance of your website. It is important that you first check to confirm that the web hosting company offers the size and space that would suit your unique website needs and potential traffic. Some web hosts place a cap on their storage and bandwidth, a situation that can affect the performance, function and reliability of your website.
Security is essential for the success of your website. Whether you are creating a simple information website or an ecommerce store, you need to be certain that your web host has what it takes to protect the privacy of your visitors. Check to confirm that your web hosting company follows current best practices in secure web hosting. This could also include regular backup, SSL certificates and so on. It is never a good idea to manage a web host that does not protect the security of their customers.
Once in a while, your website will encounter technical issues that need to be resolved immediately. One of the hallmarks of a reliable web hosting company is a 24/7 customer – technical support system. It can be damaging to your brand reputation if your website is offline for too long. In fact, you will likely lose customers to the competition. A good web hosting company should be able to provide technical help when you need it. This should include 24/7 phone call services, email service, live chat and ticket support. A good way to find out if your web host has good support is to read through online reviews and social media mentions.
While budget should not be the principal consideration when choosing a web host, it is also important that you don’t overpay for web hosting. However, when a price looks too good to be true, chances are it is. It is a good idea to shop around and compare prices and features before settling for a web host. There are times, though, when you have to overlook a slight difference in price to get the features and services you need for the success of your website.
Extras and add-ons
Web hosting companies offer incentives to attract new customers. Some hosting providers give new customers a free domain name for the first yearof their service. The customer will have to pay the domain fee at the end of the first year if he or she wants to keep on using the domain name. Other extras and add-ons may include free SSL, regular backups and renewal discounts. You should check to see the extras your web hosting provider offers.
If you have been following so far, you should know by now the different web hosts available and the factors to consider when choosing one. Remember, there are several options on the market available to you.
In your search for web hosting, you will likely come across free web hosting; this is one option you should avoid if you plan on getting serious with your website. Free web hosting will place annoying banners and ads on your website that will only frustrate your visitors and cause you to lose customers.
Take some time to evaluate your website needs and choose the right web hosting that is perfect for your business.