How to Choose the Right Web Host?

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Choosing a web hosting service is a crucial decision for any website owner, as it directly impacts the performance, reliability, and security of your online presence.

For veteran website owners, the main things they need to look out are usually quite clear. However, beginners may need a little more help. To guide you through this process, we will break down the key factors and help you review your web hosting options based on specific needs.

Download Our Web Hosting Shoppers Checklist

Choosing the right web hosting provider can be a significant challenge. Read this guide and use our PDF check list (download here) to streamline up your process.

1. Know Your Hosting Needs

Before you begin, instead of trying to find the perfect web host that offers the best of everything, consider your actual website needs and find the best fit for that instead.

With such a massive number of web hosting service providers to choose from, many have opted to skew their products in different ways to differentiate themselves from others.

For examples, one host might specialize in speed and security where another might offer the best budget-oriented plans. Understanding the various aspects of your website requirements is essential in selecting the right web hosting service that meets your needs effectively.

Ten Elements in Hosting Needs to Know

  • Website Type – What types of website are you hosting?
  • Traffic Volume – All websites usually start small and tend to grow with their traffic volume. It takes time and effort to grow a website, so will you be limiting it after a point, or growing into the next
  • Content Type – What type of content are you hosting (text, videos, images, etc)?
  • Technology Stack – Does your site need any special software or technology to operate?
  • Security Needs – What is the level of security you need for your website?
  • Budget – Are there any financial constraints in web hosting?
  • Management Level – What is your ability or desire to manage server operations?
  • Compliance – Are there any specific legal and regulatory requirements that you need to meet?
  • Integration Needs – Does your website need to integrate with third-party services or APIs?
  • Number of Websites to Host – How many websites do you plan to host in your account?

To help better understand your own needs, read further in this guide.

2. Understand Different Hosting Types

Web hosting today is bundled and sold in many different packages. Generally, there are four types of hosting services: Shared, Virtual Private Server (VPS), Dedicated, and Cloud Hosting.

Additionally, as user needs have evolved, hosting providers have also adjusted their offers to meet specific user needs. Some popular specialized hosting plans include: Managed WordPress, eCommerce, Colocation, Website Builders, and so on.

While all types of hosting will act as a storage center for your website, they differ in the amount of storage capacity, control, technical knowledge requirement, server speed, and reliability. Understanding the different hosting types allows you to match your website’s specific needs with the most suitable hosting environment.

Nine Types of Web Hosting at a Glance

  • Shared Hosting – Multiple websites on a single server.
  • VPS Hosting – A server splits into multiple virtual servers, where each customer is allocated a portion of the server’s resources.
  • Dedicated Hosting – A server dedicated to a single client.
  • Cloud Hosting – Resources spread across multiple servers.
  • Colocation – Renting space in a data center for your own server.
  • WordPress Hosting – Optimized specifically for WordPress sites.
  • eCommerce Hosting – Tailored for online stores with specific tools.
  • Reseller Hosting – Allows you to resell server capacity and host websites on behalf of third parties.
  • Green Hosting – Eco-friendly hosting using renewable energy or offsetting their carbon footprint using green certificates.

Learn more about different types of web hosting.

3. Evaluate Hosting Performance

Performance is the most significant trait of any good web hosting service provider. It is what affects the speed and reliability of your website. Remember that your website isn’t an island and many things are required for it to associate well with other entities on the Internet.

For example, your website speed could affect your ranking on search engines such as Google or Bing. It could also directly affect visitor satisfaction, which is one of the core components for your website traffic (and hence, success).

Seven Key Hosting Performance Indicators

  • Reliability– The percentage of time the server is online.
  • Speed – Load time and responsiveness of your website.
  • Scalability – Ability to handle traffic spikes.
  • Choice of Server Location – The distance between your server and your primary target audiences.
  • Security – Protection against cyber threats.
  • Resource Limits – Company’s term of usage in server resources.

Learn how to evaluate the performance of a hosting service.

4. Customer Support and After-sales Services

If you’re reading this guide it is likely that this is your first website and you’ve not had much experience with web hosting companies. As with any other product, web hosting also needs customer service in everything ranging from sales to technical support.

Five Key Things to Know in Hosting Supports

When it comes to customer support in hosting companies it is important to note five key things:

  • Technical Expertise – Are the support staffs being knowledgeable?
  • Support Channels – How can you reach out to the hosting company’s support staffs?
  • Backup Services – How often does the web host back up your data?
  • Migration Services – Does the company help moving your websites?
  • Self-help Knowledge base– Does the company provide comprehensive documentation of their services?

More on web hosting customer supports.

5. Financial Considerations

When choosing a web host, you need to not only evaluate the upfront and monthly costs but also assess the potential for additional fees for overages, upgrades, and add-ons like domain registration, SSL certificates, and backup services. It’s essential to select a hosting plan that fits within your budget while still providing the necessary features and scalability to support your website’s growth in longer term.

Five Financial Consideration Factors in Buying a Web Host

Below are are five factors to look into:

  • Pricing Structure – How much do you need to pay during signup? How much do you need to pay during renewals?
  • Hidden Costs – Are there any additional fees not included in the base price?
  • Money-Back Guarantee – Can you ask for a refund if unsatisfied?
  • Upgrade Costs – What is the price differences for scaling up your plan?
  • Value for Money – Overall assessment of what you get for the price.

Learn more about web hosting pricing and its impact to your choice.

Additional Notes to Shoppers Looking for the Cheapest Web Host

Web hosting cost is something that affects almost everyone who wants to own a website. There are many different types of websites around and unfortunately, not all of them were built with commercial intent. This means that different website owners will have different budgets for their web hosting needs.

Still, web hosting companies need cash to survive and provide the costly equipment involved in the web hosting business. Servers, infrastructure, support staff – all this cost quite a lot. They also must consider the competition and offer product that are good, at reasonable prices.

From a web owner perspective, you might think that isn’t relevant and you only need to find the cheapest solution that can fit your needs.

However, we beg to differ.

When we mention the costs involved in the web hosting business – you need to remember that the costs are applicable no matter what price the web hosting service is being offered at.

This means that if a web hosting company is offering a competitive product at rates lower than industry standard, either it is making a loss, or it has cut corners somewhere. This could be in any area from server equipment to customer support – something must go.

Before signing up for the cheapest deal you can find, we at HostScore urge you to consider the key factors in choosing your web hosting provider that I have stated in the first few sections of this guide.

Bottomline: Failing to Plan, You Are Planning to Fail

By now, if you haven’t already started screaming and running for the hills you may have realized that choosing the right web hosting provider can be a significant challenge. The best way to approach the whole matter is simply a matter of proper planning.

Choosing the right web host is as much an introspective matter than it is of finding the perfect host. It should be more a matter of choosing the best web hosting provider that is able to fit your needs specifically. It is a case of what’s sauce for the goose, isn’t necessarily sauce for the gander.

With this checklist I believe I’ve highlighted most of the key points you should be taking into consideration. 

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Article by Jerry Low

Jerry Low has immersed himself in web technologies for over a decade and has built many successful sites from scratch. He is a self-professed geek who has made it his life’s ambition to keep the web hosting industry honest. For latest personal updates and news, follow Jerry on Facebook and Twitter.
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