Figuring out how to choose a web host may seem like a challenging task. But this is also one of the key decisions you’ll have to make regarding your online presence.
Your web host is not only responsible for keeping your website alive, but also for allowing you to modify and grow your website over time.
To help you choose the right one, we’ve decided to talk a bit about the basics of web hosting, the different types of servers websites are hosted on, and key things you should know about choosing a web host.
Table of Contents
What You Should Know About Choosing a Web Host?
Before we tell you how to choose a web host, let’s start with the basics:
What is web hosting in the first place?
Simply put, web hosting is a service that allows you to store all your website files for a subscription fee.
Each website consists of several web pages and different types of files, such as images, videos, and applications. Web hosts rent their online space to website owners so that users can communicate with the website and its content.
As you can see, having a reliable web host is essential for your business, as the only way to efficiently reach a wide audience is through a website.
The good news is there are a lot of options for both small and large businesses. Web hosts typically offer different plans you can subscribe to depending on your needs. This is especially important to small businesses because they often don’t have the financial means to market themselves on other marketing channels.
In the next section, we’re going to examine how to choose a web host based on the types of servers.
How to Pick a Website Host Based on the Types of Servers?
Choosing a web host is a delicate task. There are a lot of things you need to have in mind.
But, before explaining how to choose a web host, we need to talk about servers. This is because the type of server you choose impacts the performance, security, scalability, and management level of your website.
Shared hosting is when a website is hosted on the same server as multiple other websites. You and others share the same server resources, such as RAM and CPU, which is why this option is usually the most affordable one.
If you’re wondering how to choose a web host for your small business, this may not be a bad idea. A simple blog doesn’t usually receive a large amount of web traffic. If you, however, foresee any surges in usage, shared hosting is not viable as this will affect the user experience.
Similar to shared hosting, VPS hosting means you’ll be sharing the server with multiple websites. But, in this case, the server is split into multiple virtual servers, kind of like a building with multiple apartments.
As the number of websites is significantly lower than with shared hosting, your website will have more resources and perform better.
Dedicated Server Hosting
A dedicated server belongs to you and only you. It’s usually considered the best option, especially for those with high website traffic.
The performance will be through the roof because you’re not sharing the space with anyone else.
However, this doesn’t come for free. Dedicated server hosting is quite expensive. But, if that’s not a problem, you no longer need to wonder how to choose a web host – this option is the right one for you.
Cloud hosting means your website is hosted on many different servers. Each of them has different responsibilities, so if one of them is compromised, the other one can take over those responsibilities.
Unlike traditional web hosting, cloud hosting is very scalable. You only pay for what you actually use, so you don’t have to worry about overpaying for a plan that doesn’t match your needs.
If you opt for dedicated server hosting, you’ll be the one taking care of the server management. On the other hand, managed web hosting means your hosting provider will set up the server and take care of day-to-day operations, twenty-four hours a day.
As you can suspect, managed web hosting is even more expensive than dedicated server hosting. But, if you don’t have an in-house team to take care of server management and you’re not tight on money, this option is probably the best one.
At last, colocation is the last option you should consider on how to choose a web host in terms of servers.
Using colocation is literally renting space in a colocation center that provides the power, bandwidth, dedicated IP address, and cooling systems that your server requires. On the other hand, you’ll need to buy the necessary hardware, software, and services, and manage them on your own.
How to Choose a Web Host?
- Website Needs
- Subscription Period
- Server Location
- Transfer of Existing Websites
- Upgrade Options
- eCommerce Support
- Bandwidth Limitations
- Email Hosting
- Backup Options
- Server Responsiveness
Now that we’ve gone over the types of web hosts, let’s see what other criteria you should have in mind when deciding how to choose a web host.
1. Website Needs
The first thing you should consider when thinking of how to choose a web host is your website’s needs. If you’re planning on launching a simple website, you probably won’t have too much trouble. But, if your website needs to have some specific features, you’ll have to become pickier.
For instance, if you’re a professional photographer, you’ll probably want your website to feature your portfolio. This means you’ll need to prioritize speed and storage features.
2. Subscription Period
Web hosts typically offer multiple subscription plans. Long-term, shorter subscription plans are more expensive than longer ones because there’s often a discount. On the other hand, opting for a multiple-year contract without firsthand experience is risky.
For that reason, we advise you to start with a shorter subscription period. This will allow you to try out a new host for a few months and be sure you’ve made the right choice.
One of the most important criteria on how to choose a web host is related to the website’s performance. According to Unbounce, 70% of people admit that the load-time influences their decision to buy something.
Now, performance depends on the type of server you’ll be using. We’ve already talked about how dedicated server hosting provides a shorter better load time. Of course, you could also optimize website speed in other ways.
If you plan on launching a worldwide website, you’ll have to make sure it’s online and available to internet users without any issues. This is called the „uptime“ of the website.
Of course, it would be ideal if the uptime was at 100%, but that’s not possible. Some companies will offer way less than that, while others will offer 99,9% uptime. Naturally, the latter is a much better option.
Also, keep an eye on how the web host handles downtime. Sure, nobody wants to face these issues, but you should know what to expect in the future.
5. Server Location
We can’t possibly tell you how to choose a web host without considering the server location. This is because the website’s load time depends on the server location– the closer it is to the user, the better the website will perform.
If your web host doesn’t allow you to choose the server location, it’s not the end of the world. A Content Delivery Network (CDN) can help you speed up your website, regardless of the server location.
6. Transfer of Existing Websites
If you already have a website, choosing a web host can be a bit more difficult because you’ll need help transferring it from your current host.
For that reason, it’s important to check if your future web host will support you in this process and offer the help of expert technical personnel. Some web hosts may not even charge you a fee, as an incentive for making the switch.
It may come as a shock, but over 30,000 websites are hacked every day. Many business owners don’t pay enough attention to this when choosing a web host, especially those that use WordPress, which is known to be targeted through many add-ons.
If you’re wondering how to choose a web host that will ensure security, ask them about the latest updates, patches, and active security protocols. Your web host should be able to provide you with a secure website infrastructure.
8. Upgrade Options
Your business will evolve in time. As a result, more people will come to your website. While this is great for your brand, your web host must be scalable enough to handle it.
As clouds are known for their scalability, choosing a web host with these kinds of servers and an expansive cPanel is a great option.
9. eCommerce Support
As you can see, deciding on how to choose a web host isn’t easy because you need to be able to predict what you’ll need in the future. Adding an online store is one of the things a lot of businesses opt for at one point or another.
If your web host doesn’t offer Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) certificates, you’ll need to purchase one separately, which will increase your overall expenses.
10. Bandwidth Limitations
If you’re not familiar with technical terms, bandwidth refers to the maximum amount of data a website can handle. Bandwidth is typically calculated and sold by Gigabytes (GB), while some web hosts offer unlimited bandwidth.
Bandwidth limitations can be problematic if multiple visitors try to simultaneously play a video on your website. They will most likely encounter slow speeds, network drops, or network lags.
If this is a likely scenario in your business, make sure the web hosts truly offer unlimited bandwidth.
11. Email Hosting
Not every business has to think about email hosting when deciding on how to choose a web host. If you don’t think you’ll be using email much, you can probably skip this one.
But, if you want your email to match the website’s name and plan on using email marketing as a channel, you should explore email hosting options.
Now, some web hosts include email hosting in their plans. While this is a great option as you won’t have to deal with multiple hosts, there are also some cons. For instance, if your website goes down for some reason, your email will go down too.
12. Backup Options
According to research by Datto, 45% of downtimes are caused by human error. In cases like these, it’s important to have a backup of your website that you can easily reach and restore.
Most web hosts offer website backup options. The important thing to pay attention to is their frequency – if you’re updating your site daily, the last month’s backup will not be as useful as the newer ones.
Things can go out of hand. It could be a human error, a cyber-attack, or something similar. Either way, if you don’t have in-house technical support, your web host must have a skilled group of professionals that can assist you.
Of course, the level of support will depend on the subscription plan you choose. Regular users tend to be more “hands-off, while managed plans typically offer premium support.
14. Server Responsiveness
At last, you don’t have to take their word for any of it. You can check the web host’s performance and responsiveness by running other websites they’re hosting through a tool that measures the website’s speed.
This will give you a solid idea of what you can expect in the future.
Choosing a Web Host with Website Builder
When talking about how to choose a web host, some small business owners want a website builder that is included in the subscription plan. If you don’t yet have a website, this is a very cost-effective option.
The best part is that you don’t need to be tech-savvy to create a website this way. These apps are very intuitive and will guide you through the process. They even have templates you can choose from and customize.
Here are some examples of website builders that include web hosting:
Takeaways on How to Choose a Web Host
Choosing a web host may seem like a difficult task because it feels like you need to take care of too many things at the same time. In reality, it’s really not.
The first step would be to determine your needs and then carefully examine what different web hosts offer.
If website speed is crucial for your website, you’ll probably choose cloud hosting or dedicated hosting with 99,99% guaranteed uptime and unlimited bandwidth. If you’re a small business owner, you’ll probably look into shared hosting with strong customer support and an affordable plan.
See, that wasn’t so hard, was it? Once you figure this out, you’ll be one step closer to having a website that suits your needs.