If you have come to a decision to set up a website, the first thing that you need to think about is which web host to choose. There are a lot of them, out there, and many have different offers, different packages, and plans.
Basically, there are hundreds of different types of them, and you need to find the one that suits you. If you are new to the entire world of web hosting and website making, you might have trouble with finding your way around. After all, how would you know which one to choose when you have just entered this area.
That is why this guide exists, and if you would just keep reading, we will help you with making that choice. Of course, the choice is still completely yours. However, we can point you in the right direction, by giving you some tips on what you should watch out for. This might help if you are unsure of what features are truly necessary, and what are just luxury. So, let us start.
When we talk about availability in the web hosting industry, we really think about the reliability of service. So, with that in mind, it is important to search for a host with high availability. That way, you will have some sort of guarantee that your website won’t go down because of technical error.
The standard for this industry is around 99.5%. This might seem like a lot, but this actually means that your website might go offline for 3 whole hours per month. So naturally, you want a host with a percent that is equal or bigger than that. Some even go to 99.9%. Our top reliable hosts would have to be Hostgator, A2 Hosting, Bluehost, and Siteground–in that order from best to “still good” availability up times.
This is the very first step and the most important one. Not only will it say enough about your website’s reputation, but it will also help with generating a larger income. Your customers will trust you, recommend you, and in time, your business will grow. The base for every successful business is quality. And having a good quality website is the best start.
#2 Issues with bandwidth
First of all, let’s explain what bandwidth is. This is a term that describes just how much of data are your servers sending to the browsers of those who visit your website. It is also known as bandwidth allocation. You use it whenever someone comes to your website, and whenever they load one of its pages. So naturally, you will use quite a lot of it if your website deals with music, videos, images, and alike. The text uses less, but having media files can help keep things interesting.
A lot of hosts will provide you with a limit on how much bandwidth can you use. If your website doesn’t have that much traffic, and you don’t expect or want it to, this probably is not the problem for you.
However, growing businesses will soon find out that it can pose quite a problem. A lot of things can happen, and your website might suddenly become very popular. This is, of course, a good thing. It means that your business is advancing and that you have good offers and interesting content.
Still, when it comes to bandwidth, you might find yourself in a tough spot. Depending on your host, two options are possible. Number one is the worst that can happen to you, and that is the scenario where your host will prevent the website from displaying. Just after such a great start, your website won’t work properly anymore. This will affect it greatly, and it might even ruin the business that had such a potential.
Alternatively, it might offer you more bandwidth, but you will have to pay more too. This is a better option, but it is also not what you want. The point of developing a business is to earn money, and expand. Not to waste your extra earnings on things like more bandwidth. So, none of these two are particularly good for you and your business.
The best thing you can do is not to let yourself get into this position. Start by choosing a host that doesn’t measure the bandwidth or the one that doesn’t put a limit on how much you use. That way, you will know that at least this side of having a business is secure. As long as your host doesn’t change its policy, you are good.
#3 Use of disk space
Depending on the size of your business, as well as its nature, you might need a different amount of disk space. Running a website requires a small amount, and it should not pose a problem to get it. However, big companies, especially those who collect tons of data all the time, will need much more.
This is another thing that you must pay attention at while choosing a host. The majority of them puts a limit either on the space itself or on the number of files. You may soon end up without one of those if you don’t stay vigilant. So basically, what you have to do here, is to make a good assessment. Do not buy more space than you will ever need, but also don’t limit yourself to a small portion of it.
#4 Non-stop customer support
Having an always reachable customer support is vital since there are many problems that might occur. Even those with experience run into something they don’t know how to deal with. New users can probably expect such issues a couple of times per day.
That is why you must choose a host with a good and always present technical support. The one that works even on weekends and holidays. Because the internet will work even then, and you need to make sure that you can provide your services at all times. So, aim high when it comes to tech support. Make sure that you won’t simply get a FAQ or a service that deals with petty, regular problems.
#5 Technical freedom
You have your own vision of what your website should be like, and what it should be able to do. In order to get to that, you need to make sure that different technical operations are possible and available. Here are some of them that you might want to familiarize yourself with:
- FTP – it lets you download and upload files from your computer to your website
- PHP – this is a language that the majority of websites are written in. There are several versions, and sometimes, you will have to search for the compatible one
- .htaccess – this is a configuration file. You can edit it in order to achieve certain modifications. One of them is manipulation of your website’s security
- MySQL – it is a form of database. You need it for running apps like WordPress
- Cron jobs – they are a set of tasks that run automatically. You can modify this too and make certain processes happen at certain time
You won’t get them from every web host service, which is why you should pay attention to these details. Know at all times what comes as a part of your chosen package. Discovering such limitations after paying can mess up your plans greatly.
#6 Compatibility with SSL
To put it simply, SSL is a software that allows encryption of data that travels from users’ browsers to your servers. Websites that use this begin with HTTPS instead of the regular HTTP. This is important to have, especially if you will take your customers’ personal info.
Not having it can reflect badly on your business since even Google warns about giving away data to sites that don’t use HTTPS. However, before you even get to that, you must make sure that you can. Meaning, check if your web hosting service even allows the use of SSL. If not, stay away from it, since your business might be ruined before it even started.
#7 Good email service
This is another thing to keep your eye on when it comes to purchasing a package. Check if you can set up email accounts with the same domain as the website you are creating. Also, there are several access methods like IMAP or POP3 that you should make sure are available.
Another thing to check is that the service is accessible from anywhere online. This will also allow you to set up things like auto-responding, email forwarding, or email newsletters.
And don’t forget about your email protections. Spam filters are a must-have, as well as malware and virus monitors. Also, make sure to check if your address is blacklisted. If so, you might want to avoid that host.
#8 Find the one with control panel
Managing your site and server is much easier with a control panel. If you use it, you can make changes to the website, install new updates and software, and even add new features. You can also use it for upgrading your account or adding new services.
There are a lot of hosts that will give you a control panel, but they will also limit its use. You may end up with the one with barely a few options, but a lot of restrictions. That will force you to use customer service whenever you want to make a significant change, which may be very often, especially in the beginning.
So, try to find a host that offers Plesk or even better cPanel as your control panel. They are very user-friendly, and they will provide you with lots of options.
#9 Watch out for security
Security is something that goes without saying, and you better make sure that it is strong and good. This includes firewalls, defense against malware, intrusion protection, and alike. And, of course, regularly back up everything. You never know when you are going to need it. And with security issues that the internet is currently facing, make no mistake, you are probably going to need it.
#10 Choose operating system carefully
Web hosts offer different operating systems for websites. You will mostly get to choose between Windows and Linux. The majority of Windows users get confused after choosing a Windows system. They may be great for your PC, but when it comes to running a website, Linux system is the way to go.
Some users don’t get to make this choice, and they have to deal with the one they get according to the software they used for making a website. So basically, if you are planning on making a WordPress site, make sure to use and choose Linux system.
That means that you must first know what software will you use for making your website. Only then see if the operating system of your choice is available.
Building your own website today doesn’t have to be complicated and difficult, and all you need is the right start. That means that your web host needs to provide you with a good service, but the main responsibility is on you. You, as their customer, have to choose the one that suits you best. And to do that, you need information.
In this text, you can find multiple things that you need to watch out for. What you will need, and what to look for in a service. Hopefully, you now better understand some of these things, and you will have a good start.
Ali is a freelance journalist with 5 years of experience in web journalism and marketing. He contributes to various online publications like Best10VPN. With a master degree, now he combines his passions for writing about internet security and technology. When he is not working, he loves traveling and playing games.