How To Choose Website Hosting Service Providers
So, You Want to Build a Website?
There’s nothing more daunting than trying to weed through the hundreds of website hosting service providers around the world! How do we choose? What is important to us and what isn’t? Is there anything I need to be on the lookout for that might bite me in the butt later down the road? Do I really need to have a dedicated server with a gazillion Gigabytes of storage or can I just get by with a shared server with 10GB of storage?
Below is a listing of things you will need to decide on when deciding where you are going to put that $49 per month for your awesome website. Depending on why you are building a website will determine which of these are important and which are not.
In the near future (starting next week), I will be reviewing web hosting services to help do the work for you and I will be using the below categories in my reviews. Of course, you can see my review here for the best web hosting service as an entrepreneur or someone who is into affiliate marketing.
- Hosting Categories
- Shared – shared hosting is just that, multiple sites being shared on one server and it is possible for one of the other sites to have an adverse affect on your site due to shared resources. Generally speaking, these will be the least expensive services because all the websites are sharing the cost for the hosting hardware and services.
- VPS (Virtual) – websites are now virtually separated, each with their own dedicated resources. Your website can still be affected by other websites on the server, but that is much less likely to happen. The price compared to Shared Hosting will be a little higher since a slice of the resources for that server are guaranteed for your use.
- Dedicated – Unless you are running a big business that relies on a web server for the core of its business, you won’t need to have a dedicated server. A dedicated server is just that, you have the only website/business on that server. With that may come some server management functions or extra expenses as part of server maintenance built into the contract.
- Business – this is probably going to be setup in one of the cloud server platforms, like Google Cloud or Amazon Web Services, plus it will have 24/7 customer support, SSL certificates for your website(s) and the ability to handle many thousands of visitors and a lot more.
- WordPress Web Hosting – WordPress is a free, open source blogging and site building content management systems (CMS). Many services will offer this as part of their plan and they’ll take care of many of the things on the backend.
- Automatic Backups
- Updating Plugins
- Updating Server Software and PhP
- Support – is it 24/7 and how do you contact support? Is live chat available, telephone, email? What is their response time? What will they support you with? Only technical problems or problems on the server side? What about questions concerning the use of WordPress, it’s themes, or plugins?
- OS Linux/Windows – although it’s not as important to the small entrepreneur who doesn’t see the backend of the service, it could be very important for the larger businesses who bring specific skill sets for server backend management.
- Email – How many Email addresses are provided per website? Is it part of the plan or an add on? Small businesses or people with just a personal website probably wouldn’t need more than 5-10 per website.
- Bandwidth – How much bandwidth comes with it? Does the bandwidth scale by the cost of the plan? Can you upgrade your plan to grow with your bandwidth needs? Here again, a small personal website wouldn’t need much. Perhaps 20-50 GB.
- Data – Be careful with this one! Just like mobile phone plans can come with unlimited data or charge you based on the amount of data that goes to and from your device so can websites charge you for data going to and from your website. With the advent of video these days you can use up a lot of data in a very short time with video. I frequently upload 2GB / 15 minute video files to YouTube as part of my YouTube channel.
- Storage – I would say you would want a minimum of 10GB for storage. As long as you aren’t storing video or high resolutions photographs you should be okay, but it is something to consider if the plan you are looking at has storage limits.
- Uptime (SLA) – Does the service offer any type of service level agreement that include percentage of uptime? For a serious business that loses money for every minute it is offline this is super important. For example, financial institutions can lose millions in minutes of downtime. Now, you and I as bloggers not so much. However, if your site is frequently going down you should definitely considering moving to a better web hosting service provider.
- Reviews – Even though reviews can be helpful, the problem I have is that most reviews on the internet today, including many of mine, are written with dual intent. One, we want to provide information to you the consumer so you can make a more intelligent decision about what product or service to use. Two, we may be reviewing that particular product because when you purchase it we can make a commission without any cost to you, the consumer. So, you need to look at more than one source when it comes to reviews and ask yourself “is this just a quick 20 cent review so this guy/gal can get a commission or did they at least put some effort into it and do their homework on the product? Does the review cover all or most of the areas I’m discussing here or is it just a side by side comparison with check marks?
- Managed/Unmanaged – This is separate from support, this is the managing of the physical servers and the management of Operating System upgrades and patches. How much will they do and how much will they work with you/inform you of when this is being done? Some upgrades require system reboots, are your servers clustered or work in pairs? What happens if an upgrade or patch affects your operations? Will you know when they are doing this? Do you need to request for updates to be done and then coordinate the best time for you to have the system unavailable for some time? These are all things to consider.
- Migration Support – Let’s say you want to move everything from one of your old website hosting service providers to this new one. Do they provide migrations support so you can make the move seamlessly, without loss of traffic or at least minimal downtime before your site is hot again? Is it an easy process? Do you do it? Do they do it? Most of the time you will need to notify and change DNS setting on the old service, as well as, on the new service.
- Upgrade Options – You really need to pay attention to these! Don’t just go the cheap route and then find out a couple weeks or months later you don’t have something that you need. Now, you have to pay more to upgrade when you probably didn’t want to pay that amount to begin with; talk about an up sell! As an example, I did a “bluehost” review and they have so many plans and options that even I was confused. And I work in IT!
- Plans/Pricing – I’ve talked about plans and pricing throughout this article because it determines what features and benefits you will receive from the web hosting service. Think about the purpose of your site(s) and plan for growth. Many of these pricing/plans are for more than one year, so read the fine print closely. Plus, a lot of them will quote a really low price and come to find out that’s not the monthly rate but the rate for purchasing one or more years in advance. I prefer a plan that allows you to test their services for free first and then be able to opt into a paid plan, like what you’ll see in my “Wealthy Affiliate” review.
Up above, we covered the many features and benefits that will be presented to you when you are out window shopping for a website hosting service.
I hope that this helps you to be able to make a more informed decision when looking at all the possibilities these days.
If you want to see how quickly you can build a website where I am hosted, check out my “Build Website EZ” page and watch me build a website in less than 5 minutes!
If you have any questions on the categories above or on looking at web hosting plans, please don’t hesitate to ask in the comments. You can help me make this a better guide for those who look at it in the future as this will be a living document and I’ll update it as often as I need.
Have you already looked at some web hosting plans?
How do they compare to what you see below?
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