A web host or web hosting provider is a company who provides you with web hosting services to host your website. There are several web hosts in the market such as SiteGround, Bluehost, InMotion Hosting, HostGator, A2 Hosting, GoDaddy, etc. All these web hosts offer several plans and options based on user needs, and you may choose one of their hosting plans. But do you know how to choose the best web hosting provider for your website? Do you know how to estimate your web hosting needs? All these questions could be vital for your website hosting.
Moving ahead in this article, we will see questions about web hosting, how to estimate your website needs, major factors to look for, and many more such questions. Let’s begin.
Questions that you may have to deal with
Prepare a set of questions based on type and requirement of your website. Some of these questions would be critical, and others could be of less importance. You should know how to prioritize them in order.
Basic questions about your website
- How many pages or posts will you be publishing on your website?
- Do you require a database?
- How much disk space you require?
- Have you estimated the amount of traffic? This will help in calculating the bandwidth
- Does your website require some specific scripting needs?
- How many emails would you require?
- Are you planning to purchase a domain name too?
- What is your overall budget?
Questions about web hosts
- What kind of plans are available?
- How much space & bandwidth are they offering?
- What is their uptime?
- Do they have different data centers across the globe?
- Do they have 24/7 customer care support? If yes, then what is the channel of communication?
- What is the track record of a host? Are there sufficient reviews available online?
- Additional features like one click CMS installation, easy cPanel access, online backups, etc.
- Are there any hidden charges?
- Scope and ease of scalability
If you can find out answers to above questions then no wonder you will be able to choose the best web host for your website. Do not worry; we will deal every question in detail.
Major factors to consider while choosing a web host
When it comes to the number of web hosts in the market, the data is overwhelming. You may even get dirt cheap pricing plans offering unlimited data space, bandwidth, email account and what not.
But remember, nothing is unlimited. Do check minutely claims which are cheap and promise everything under the sun. Sometimes, every statement comes with a small start mark as conditions. Several companies are ready to lure customers with their unrealistic plans. You have to be careful with such promises.
When it comes to deciding on the significant factors of web host selection, then you have to look for three vital things, and they are –
- Speed and reliability
- Customer care support
- Credibility and scalability
Speed and reliability
The speed of a website largely depends on server responsiveness. If you are going for a shared hosting plan, then you need to know how many sites will be hosted on a single server. If some web host is giving you unrealistic cheap web hosting plan, then chances are higher that the company is hosting too many websites on a single server.
In this case, the server won’t respond promptly, and your website speed would go down drastically. Also, you need to know what is the specification of the server. It is always good to find out if they are having the latest and greatest configuration of server or not.
Reliability of a website is nothing but the uptime. Uptime percentage defines the possible downtime your site might face. This is an important factor as more outage means loss of business and visitors.
If someone is offering you 99.98% uptime then a mere 0.02% could amount to 1 hour 45 minutes of outage per year. So, this number is pretty significant. Some websites claim 100% uptime. Try to find out the basis of such claim. Most of the time, such claims are far from reality.
Customer care support
You are going to host your website on a web server of which you will not have any access (unless you go for collocated hosting). You will be largely dependent on customer care support for sorting out problems related to your website and server.
It would not be good if there is no live chat or phone support. There are even cheap web hosts who respond within 48 hours after you raise any support ticket. This could be a pathetic scenario if your website is down due to some issue. So, in short, you have to check for below points –
- What are all channels available for technical support?
- What is the response time?
- Do they have hotline support channel? If yes, then is it 24/7?
- Do they have support for CMS tools like Drupal, WordPress, Joomla, etc.?
- How knowledgeable is their workforce?
- Lastly, do they have technical write-up or blogs for common issues related to different aspects of hosting?
An excellent and prompt customer care is a vital aspect of choosing web hosts. Do not ignore it as it can make or break your website in the more extended run.
Credibility and scalability
There is nothing better than checking web hosts review from different forums and blogs. You will get mixed feedback but notice the one which has got higher stars regarding positives. All best web hosting providers have a strong base of customers who stay with them for a considerably more extended period.
Be it a great blog or business website; within a span of a few months, you might run out of juice regarding server space and bandwidth with growing website size and traffic. People always start with a basic plan but do check out their higher plans, looking at your future needs.
For example, if you are on a shared hosting plan, then you should check if the web host is having other types of plans, such as cloud hosting, VPS hosting, dedicated, etc., or not? Also, what is the cost involved in these options?
Above three factors are purely related to the functionality of web hosting. But other than this, you need to consider following factors which are equally important.
Geographical considerations while choosing web hosts
You need to check the location of the data center of web hosting provider. Most of the time you see advertisements of several web hosts locally in your country, but it is highly probable that they may not have the data center in the same region.
If you are placed in India, and you know your target users are in India, then there is no point in choosing some web host whose data center is in the USA. In this case, your website will load slowly in countries other than the USA.
Of course, there are services like CDN which can speed up your website across the globe. But what is the point in incurring more cost when you can go for local web hosts?
Also, time zone difference might be an issue with a few web hosts who do not provide round the clock support. But personally, I do not suggest you go with any web host who does not have 24/7 hotline support.
Calculate your requirements before deciding on web hosts
It is important to know beforehand how much disk space and bandwidth you would require for hosting on the web server provided by the web host. If your website has a lot of pictures and media content, such as videos and audio files, then you would require more disk space.
On the other side, if your website is having text content then rest assured that the size of your webpage would be even lesser than 50KB.
Also, if you are anticipating massive traffic on your website, then you have to at least go for bare minimum bandwidth.
Let us find out how to calculate disk space and bandwidth. For example, your website is going to have 1000 web pages each of size around 100KB. So, you require 1000 x 100KB = 100MB (Megabyte) space.
Now if you anticipate 10,000 traffic per month and each user is visiting on an average 2 pages per visit, then the bandwidth will be 10000 x 100 x 2 = 2GB (Gigabyte) bandwidth per month.
Having said everything, if you are launching a fresh website, then you may require more than a year to build such traffic and number of blogs or pages. It is better to start with some number is also lower and sufficient.
Find out essential features
Checkout for some essential features like ftp / sftp access, complete cPanel access, DNS management, one-click CMS (WordPress, Joomla, etc.) installer, .htaccess file access, dedicated IP address, SSL certificate, etc.
FTP / SFTP access is useful in moving large files safely and securely. You shall have .htaccess file access as it can help you make some side wide administrative changes. Several web hosts have quick installation application where you can install CMS platforms such as WordPress, Joomla, Drupal, etc. in a click. This is quite handy if you are not a developer and want to do everything on your own.
Site backup is another great feature to check out with web hosts. Some company provides daily backup for your website to keep you covered for any mishaps such as site problems, hacking, etc.
Cost of renewal & subscription period
This is one of the biggest factor regarding your budget. Initially, most of the web hosts gives you attractive hosting plans. Sometimes, plans could go below $3/month as well. But after a year, suddenly you will see renewal price tag of $10/month.
400% surge is no good. So, it’s better to pay more initially and pay a little more after a year. Overall, you will keep your cost down.
Also, do not go into the commitment for more than two years with any web hosts initially. There are web hosts, who will push you to go for even three years in the contract. You never know if your requirement changes and above technology is changing rapid and there is no point in sticking with something outdated.
Over to you on how to choose the best web hosting provider
It is better to be aware and do your homework before you go live with a website. Switching web hosts is possible, but sometimes it brings in a lot of complexities. For instance, if your site had some special requirements for scripting (ASP scripting, etc.), which might not run on windows server.
Do a lot of research online on forums, blogs, etc. and narrow down your list to 3-4 potential web hosts. Then, individually try to figure out their quality of customer support, technicalities, etc.
Calculate your website requirements regarding disk space and bandwidth. It will help you choose the optimum plan for your website. Better hosting plans always look attractive, but many times they are not required for small sites.