How to Choose the Best Web Hosting
With all the different choices available in the market, it can be overwhelming to choose the right web hosting service that meets your needs. Before you dive into choose a host, you’ll have to look at a few different factors such as:
You need to choose a reliable web hosting provider that guarantees maximum uptime. Uptime is a term used to describe the period your website hosted on a specific server is available online. Usually, uptime is expressed as a percentage of the total available time which is 365 days per year.
For example, a website that’s up all year long 24/7 is said to have 100% uptime. If uptime is 99%, that means the website is down for 3.65 days.
While no web host can guarantee 100 percent uptime, anything below 99.9% is unreliable.
Some hosting services offer a refund if they fail to meet their uptime guarantee, but that doesn’t cut it because every downtime is going to cost you.
Google continues to emphasize page speed in their algorithm, which makes it one of the most important factors to consider when choosing a web host.
While you can find tons of tips and tricks on the web to boost your page speed, none of them is going to help you if your site is hosted on a slow hosting server. If you want to build a fast website, the first thing you need to do is to find a web host that doesn’t slow down your site.
To analyze and compare the page speed of some of the most popular web hosts, we’ve created a test site on them and ran speed tests with different testing tools such as Pingdom and Load Impact.
Every web hosting service is unique in terms of features. Below are some standard features you’ll find on almost every popular web hosting provider. The key to choose the best hosting provider is to figure out whether they come with the right set of features you’ll need.
- One-click script install: It helps you easily install website script like WordPress, Joomla, etc. on your host.
- Website builder: While most hosting providers offer website builder as a standard feature, not every builder is created equal. For example, some web host only allows you to build a basic website with the builder, whereas others even let you launch an online store with it. The key is to figure out whether the builder comes with the right set of features you’ll need.
- Control panel: Examine how your web host lets you manage your hosting account. The most popular control panel is cPanel, but you can also find providers that offer different web-based control panel.
- Number of domains: The pricing is usually based on the number of domains you can use with a specific hosting plan.
- Disk space and bandwidth: Hosting companies often advertise that they offer unlimited resources like disk space and bandwidth with their shared hosting plans. However, you’ll have usage restrictions on how you use the resources for your site. When you’re signing up for a service, you’re obliged to adhere to the terms of services of your hosting company. And based on the terms, you’ll only be allowed to use server resources for the normal operation of a small website.
- Email address: Some hosting companies also limit the number of email addresses you can set up on your hosting account. You might want to review it as well before you dive in to choose a hosting service.
- Free domain: Companies often offer a free domain while purchasing a new web hosting account. Your hosting company will cover the registration fee of your domain name for the first year. Keep in mind that if you purchase a domain name from a domain registrar like NameCheap.com, you could save your money in renewal price in the long run.
- Free SSL: SSL is an industry standard security measure that creates an encrypted link between your visitor’s browser and your website. Installing SSL certificate on your site will add a small green padlock icon in your address bar, which makes your site look trustworthy. Similar to the free domain offer, some web hosting providers also offer free SSL certificate when signing up for their hosting plan.
24/7 support is a standard feature offered by almost all popular web hosting providers. Support is typically offered via 3 options: phone, ticket based email, and live chat.
However, double check whether your hosting service offers email support for technical assistance. Email or ticket based support is needed if you want to resolve advanced issues that may take a bit longer to resolve. This way you don’t have to waste your time on Live Chat for seeking assistance.
Similarly, another thing you need to take a look is whether your hosting provider offers live chat support throughout the day. For example, with DreamHost, Live Chat is available only between 5 am and 10 pm PST and they don’t even offer free phone support for shared hosting. If you need assistance via phone, you’ll have to purchase the phone support addon separately.
Understand Different Hosting Options Available
Evaluating your needs is as important as comparing the offerings of popular hosting providers. When you know your needs, you can choose the right web host and the right hosting plan.
For example, if you’re looking to build an online store with WooCommerce without going through the tedious installation process, you might want to choose a WooCommerce hosting plan. This way you can get all the set of features to run an online store such as SSL certificate, optimized hosting environment for running a store, etc.
In a nutshell, figure out if your hosting provider of choice offers the right plans to solve your needs.
Some hosting plans you’ll find helpful are:
Cheap hosting, also known as shared hosting is sufficient enough to run a new website with low traffic volume.
In a shared hosting environment, your website shares server resources including CPU, RAM, etc. with other websites hosted on the same server. This is how hosting providers can keep the costs low. Although you share hosting resources with other sites, your website will be secure and only you’ll be able to access your website files.
And the best part is that you can always upgrade to VPS or other costly hosting plans if you think your current hosting account isn’t capable enough to survive frequent traffic surge as your need evolves.
Often shared hosting boast unlimited disk space, unlimited bandwidth, unlimited domains, and basically unlimited everything. While they claim to offer unlimited resources, you’re required to be fully compliant with your hosting company’s Terms of Service and only utilize disk space and bandwidth in the normal operation of a personal or small business website.
You’ll be asked to upgrade your hosting option in case your site exceeds their usage policies.
As your website grows and your need evolves, you might need more control and flexibility over your hosting server. This is where VPS comes in.
VPS is short for Virtual Private Server. With VPS, while you’ll be still sharing hosting resources with other sites, you get a lot more dedicated power and flexibility for your site.
VPS is the best bet for you if you want to create websites with more secured data or build resource-heavy applications that are growing through rapid expansion. VPS plans often come with improved control panel interface that gives you more control over your server along with many special tools for VPS management.
Some hosting providers offer managed and unmanaged VPS hosting for different pricing plans.
Looking to build a website with WordPress, but don’t want to undergo the unnecessary installation process? Then, you might subscribe to a managed WordPress hosting plan.
Web hosting companies offer different WordPress hosting options, like cheap WordPress hosting, managed WordPress hosting, etc.
With a managed WordPress hosting, you can easily get started with your WordPress site without the unnecessary step of manual WordPress installation. You’ll also get an optimized WordPress hosting account that prevents WordPress specific malicious attacks and vulnerabilities out of the box.
A managed WordPress hosting could be the best choice for you if you don’t want to perform site maintenance yourself and want to seek assistance from WordPress specific support experts whenever you need help.
If you want to host an extremely high traffic website without sharing your server resources with other websites, you might choose dedicated server hosting.
With dedicated server hosting, you get a complete server for your sole use for lease from your hosting provider. This way you get you more control over the server’s hardware and operating system.
If you do not employ a system administrator or have no experience with servers, then we recommend that you get a managed dedicated server. Alongside doing software updates, they also do server monitoring, offer phone support etc. Most top websites use clusters of dedicated servers.
Having helped thousands of users to choose a web hosting plan, we have answered just about every question you can think of. This is why we’ve compiled a list of frequently asked questions, so you can find the best cheap hosting service for your site.
How does web hosting work?
Your web hosting account is where your blog’s content and files are stored. When a visitor tries to access your website by typing your web address (or domain name) in the address bar, they’ll be directed to your website files stored in your web hosting server.
Which hosting plan should I choose when getting started?
Shared hosting is the cheapest hosting option available that comes with all the essential features you’ll need to get your website up and running. When starting out, choose the right shared hosting plan that fit your needs.
Is shared hosting safe?
Shared hosting gives you a secure environment to build and grow a small website. Some shared hosting plans also give you dedicated IP address which grants access to your site any time you need and SSL certificate which provides a secure connection.
How can a web hosting company offer cheap hosting without compromising on quality?
With shared hosting, server resources like RAM, CPU and disk storage are shared with other sites that are hosted on the same server. This is how hosting companies keep the costs low without compromising on quality.
Typically, how much does it cost to get started with a web hosting account?
Hosting companies often advertise a huge discount for the initial term. But normally, a shared hosting plan will cost around $100 per year. As your site grows, you can upgrade your hosting to higher hosting options like VPS or dedicated server for handling more traffic.
Do I need to get a hosting addon?
No. Hosting companies often try to upsell hosting addons whenever you subscribe to a hosting plan. To save unnecessary costs, you can uncheck those addons before completing the order. When you’re just starting out with a new site, you won’t need those addons. However, you can always purchase those addons later if you find them useful.
I want to start a WordPress site. Should I choose a WordPress hosting service?
It depends on your needs.
A shared hosting service is the best starting point for small websites and blogs where you get all essential features to kick start your WordPress site, including 1-click WordPress installer.
If you want to get started with your site quickly and easily, you might choose a cheap WordPress hosting service instead. A WordPress hosting account comes pre-installed with WordPress, so you don’t need any additional step to start your site.
You can also find that some WordPress centric hosting companies, like WPEngine offer expensive managed hosting services. It’s built specifically for running WordPress websites on it, and it’s optimized for speed, security and scalability. Such services also come with many enhanced WordPress specific features, which are not necessary for users who’re just starting out.
Do I need to have a domain and hosting from the same provider?
Not necessarily. You can get a domain and hosting from different providers. Some hosting providers allow you to register a domain name for free when purchasing a hosting account. When registering a domain from your hosting provider, the benefit is that you can manage both the domain and hosting from a single account.
Alternatively, you can buy a domain name from a domain registrar, like NameCheap. In the long run, buying a domain name from a domain registrar will be profitable for you because the domain renewal cost will be low.