There is an unending list of web hosts available on the internet. So, choosing the best web hosting plan from so many service providers or web hosts available on the internet can be a vexing puzzle for a new user.
You don’t need to be intimidated with the daunting process of choosing a proper web hosting plan for your website. Also, you don’t have to scroll manifold websites on the internet seeking for help.
What you need to know is the quintessential features of a web hosting plan that you need to concentrate.
Again, there are tons of features, such as bandwidth, database storage, applications, uptime, 24x7 customer care, email account, domain name, dedicated IP, etc., when it comes to a web hosting plan.
But I am going to touch on 8 key features that can make or break your website in the longer run.
So, here is a quick guide in encapsulation on the vital web hosting features that you should seek before contemplating to buy a web hosting plan.
Key web hosting features
Amount of storage
The first thing that you should ponder over while choosing a web hosting plan is the amount of storage that your website might require.
Your website would require storage or database space for various files such as images, GIFs, HTML (text), Flash, media, etc.
You can make a feasible estimate of the adequate storage space needed, by breaking down your usage concerning the storage space required for emails, web files, media, and databases.
How can you estimate the amount of data space needed?
DataSpace = Average page size x No of pages
If your average page size is 50KB, you can put approximately 20 pages on 1 MB (50 x 20= 1000 KB or 1 MB) of space. Similarly, if you have 100MB of disk space with same page size, you can host 200 pages.
So, make sure that you have adequate storage space for your website before you buy a web hosting plan.
Adequate bandwidth is as necessary as storage space for a website. A wrong web hosting plan with less bandwidth might land you in a problem. It can limit your traffic speed and hamper loading time of your website.
More lucidly, it can be said; Less traffic means less Bandwidth and more traffic on your site would exemplary need more bandwidth.
So, before you contemplate bandwidth for your site, you should understand what bandwidth is. Bandwidth is the amount of data that a web host provider allows you to upload and at the same time allows your customers to download in a particular month.
It includes all the downloads and uploads, both HTTP and FTP.
How can you estimate the required bandwidth for your website?
Bandwidth depends on your average web page size, the average number of monthly visitors to your website and the average number of pages they visit.
Now, let’s take a case in point if your average page size is 50KB. Average visitors monthly are 3000, and on an average, they visit 5 pages. Then you can calculate the necessary bandwidth for your website by simple multiplication method.
Estimated Bandwidth needed = Average page size × Average visitors monthly × Average numbers of pages they visit
So, estimated Bandwidth will be 50 × 3000 × 5 = 7,50,000 KB or 0.75 GB per month.
Tip: Always estimate bandwidth 20-40% higher. So, here you can include that factor in the multiplication.
Now, in case if you don’t know what up-time is, it is an evaluation of system reliability denoted as the percentage of time a server has been working and available on the internet. The less the downtime is, the better a web hosting plan is and vice versa.
The evaluation of Up-time includes 24/7 server and network monitoring, network configurations, etc. The ideal uptime is 100 percent which is theoretically possible. In practical, you can get something very close to 100% which is like 99.99% or even 99.98%.
You must be wondering 99.99% and 100% is same. To your surprise, 0.01% outage in a year amounts to 53 minutes of downtime. An online e-commerce website can understand the importance of website going down for a few minutes in peak time.
Last but not least, don’t fall prey to the deceive up time claims of the web hosts; it is better to check the actual rate of uptime by independent online tools such as Pingdom.
24 x 7 customer care support
It is one of the most overlooked factors when it comes to choosing a web hosting plan. Though, 24 x 7 customer support is of paramount importance as technical glitches are part and parcel of a website.
So, wonder what would happen, if you don’t have an expert team to deal with the hounding glitches on your server or website?
The more your business grows, the more vital the role of customer support will become. Choosing the best Customer support includes various factors. These factors encompass –
1) Availability of Customer Support 365 days and 24 x 7 – As your website needs to be available on the internet round the clock for better business.
Even a slight delay in the resolution of your server glitches can cause you massive loss. So, you need a web host which provides you with instant customer support with no exceptions.
2) Multi-Channel Availability – It is essential that your support team can be reached using the method you’re comfortable.
Whether you choose to call, email, live chat or submit a support ticket. Your provider should be ready to accept your query and respond conveniently.
3) Swift Response Time – Response time becomes a deciding factor in the longer run. Suppose, your website is down, or you face server outrage, then you can’t wait for hours for the customer support to respond. So, fast and efficient customer support response time is quintessential.
Free email account
The next thing you should keep in mind is that a professional email address is a must for a website. A professional email address like (@yourdomain.com) can act as a channel for the visitors on your site to quickly get in touch with you.
So, email service is the least you should expect from your web hosting plan. There are three main types of email accounts: POP3, SMTP, and IMAP.
So, if a web hosting provider is not aiding you with a complimentary email address, then it would be an intellectual overture to deny such a web hosting plan.
File Transfer Protocol or FTP, in short, is an exemplary feature needed in any web hosting plan. It is a protocol which allows you to transfer your data from your website to computer or vice-versa.
Moreover, SFTP (Secure File Transfer Protocol) is more favorable as it provides a secure transfer of files to the FTP server.
So, a web host providing with 24/7 unrestricted FTP or SFTP access is the last thing you should expect from a good web hosting service provider.
Automatic or manual website backup
It would not be wrong to say that your website data is as vulnerable as your computer data at times. So, choosing a web hosting plan which aides with a regular and automatic backup of your website files and database is essential.
There can be nothing more horrifying than the idea of losing your masterpieces of work. So, you should sift whether the web host provider is providing with automatic regular updates or not.
You should make sure that the backups of your website are stored remotely on distinct servers to the ones on which your website is hosted.
As, if your server goes down, your backups are still available on those other servers. Many web hosts, such as SiteGround, provide even an option to backup manually whenever needed.
This is a very amazing feature as it gives you the freedom to upgrade things on your website without any worry of not going back to the immediate working version.
Free SSL certificate
If you are wondering what SSL stands for then let me tell you that this is everything to do website security and encryption. Its full form is secure sockets layer and it is a networking protocol.
Every financial website has this certificate installed and their URL starts with https and not http. Here, ‘s’ stands for SSL. These days, SSL certificate is must for every website as it is one of the major SEO factors.
SSL certificate ensures that the information on your website becomes encrypted and secured. As it is said, a successful website is a secure one, not just for you but also for your visitors. So, it is advisable to choose a web hosting plan which gives you pre-emptive SSL certificates.
Apart from the above key feature of a website hosting plan, you should also pay attention to the subscription plan, geographical placement of web host server, dedicated IP address, upgrade options, etc. All these might seem overwhelming in the beginning but with time you will understand.
As the saying goes, ‘ It is better to prepare and prevent than to repair and repent,’ so you should consider all the above mentioned essential features before choosing a web hosting plan.
The more planned your endeavor is, the smoother your execution will be. So, a detailed plan and research would make your website a profitable business in the long run.
In case you get stuck into something, don’t fall shy to Google it. If you get bewildered in the process of choosing the best web hosting plan for your website, the most feasible solution can be researched.
You can research online blogs, forums and even Quora for reviews of web hosts, etc. Further, you can superficially consider 2 or 3 web hosts as per the reviews of others, and then you can vet the selected web hosts and choose the one which best suits your requirement.