Choosing a web host is an incredibly key decision when building a website. Choosing one of the best web hosting services, just like choosing one of the best website builders, is comprehensive – the chosen host is responsible not only for your site to stay online, but also for giving you flexibility, so that you can modify and grow your website over time.
It can be rewarding to choose a web host that works perfectly for your site, and just as choosing the wrong host can be very detrimental to your business. If a host can’t meet the needs of your site, you could end up wasting more time and money as you don’t have to start your search again.
Consequently, knowing what to look for when choosing a web host is the right way to go. Here we cover seven key points to consider in order to find the right host for your website.
1. Type of accommodation offered
Most hosting providers offer various types of services. For a new website with relatively modest traffic, shared hosting may offer a low-cost option. But if you need more bandwidth or need additional computing power to run software on your website, look for options like VPS (virtual private server) and cloud hosting.
You’ll also want to consider whether they offer managed hosting or unmanaged hosting. With managed hosting, you don’t have to worry about things like security or software updates; your hosting provider takes care of all those details for you. This can be an especially good option for new webmasters.
Even more important, find a hosting provider that allows you to switch between their service levels seamlessly. Having the ability to upgrade your hosting plan without downtime is critical if, for example, your website sees an increase in traffic thanks to a viral marketing campaign.
Responsive support is one of the most critical things your hosting service can provide. If your website crashes or is experiencing a malicious attack, you want to be able to speak to someone who can help you as soon as possible. Every minute that your website is offline can cost you visits and sales.
With that in mind, be sure to check what support options a potential host offers. Many have 24/7 phone support, live chat, and email, while others only offer one or two channels to communicate. Before registering, try calling the support line to see if the customer service team is knowledgeable and helpful.
Hosting providers differ greatly in the features they offer with their plans.
To start comparing functions, take a look at how your data will be stored. Many budget vendors are using hard drives, which are cheap but prone to mechanical failure. An increasing number of hosts are switching to solid state drives, which are much more reliable and can speed up your website thanks to faster data transfer operations.
Another thing to look for is whether your hosting plan comes with automatic backups. Having backup copies of all your content and static pages is absolutely essential to recover quickly after a server failure or a hack on your website.
The software your host provides is also worth considering. Many hosts allow you to manage your site using cPanel hosting panel software, but others have proprietary control panels that may differ in functionality. Also, be sure to look for one-click installers to help you get your website up and running faster.
4. Server locations
The closer your host’s servers are to your audience, the faster your pages will load for visitors. So it is worth checking where your host’s data centers are located and if you will have the option to choose from multiple server locations.
Some hosts also offer you the option of hosting your website in an environmentally friendly data center, such as GreenGeeks– Read our GreenGeeks review to learn more.
If you have a global audience, you may also want to consider a host that gives you access to a CDN (content delivery network) like Cloudflare. A CDN stores a cached copy of your site on servers around the world so that visitors from anywhere can experience fast page loading.
5. Areas of expertise
While hosting providers are generalists by nature, some companies specialize in certain types of hosting. For example, you will find hosts that dedicate most of their infrastructure to managed WordPress hosting, which may make sense if you plan to use WordPress as your content management system.
Other hosting providers focus on cloud hosting, which offers more flexibility to scale your hosting resources up or down. Think carefully about what you need and then see if there is a hosting provider designed to serve that purpose.
Website security is more important than ever thanks to the increase in cyberattacks. If your website is compromised by malicious agents, your visitors’ computers, as well as yours, could be affected. Worse still, you could be liable for damages that originate from your website, even if it is the result of a security breach.
It’s also worth noting that your website can be flagged by Google and other search engines if you share an IP address with compromised or spammy websites. Therefore, even if your website is not directly affected by a breach, your traffic could be affected by choosing a host that is not serious about security.
Therefore, it is important to take a good look at the web hosting security features offered by different web hosts. Some hosts have tightly protected data centers with 24/7 performance and threat monitoring to protect your website. Others take a much more lax approach and leave it to you to manage your website’s permissions.
7. Price and general comments online
Once you have a short list of potential hosts, you will of course want to compare their prices. Depending on your budget, price may be more or less important in relation to other features in your final decision.
This is also a good time to view online reviews from webmasters who have used these hosts. Reading about other people’s experiences with a hosting provider can give you an idea of whether it is as good as it looks on paper.
More information on web hosting
Be sure to read our buying guides outlining the best VPS hosting and the best cloud hosting, to find the best hosts for those types of web hosting packages.