HOW DO I DECIDE WHAT WEB HOSTING SERVICE PROVIDER AND PACKAGE IS BEST FOR ME?
If you are not too familiar with web development there is a good chance you have wondered this question – What sort of web hosting do i need for my business? What is the best web hosting for a small business? Good questions! Let us help answer those for you. We will discuss the best choices of web hosting based around your budget, type of business, and a few other factors which we will further explain in detail. By the end of this article, you should know what the best choice for you is.
Many small business owners make the mistake of forking out $50+/month for web hosting for their website that would run perfectly fine on $3/month hosting. Sure the $50 web hosting option may have better specs in terms of speeds, reliability, security. But most of the time it is an over-kill. You simply do not need web hosting that expensive while your business is still small and growing. Higher costing web hosting certainly has some benefits, but for a low traffic small business website, it is often unnecessary.
HOW MUCH SUPPORT AND HELP WILL YOU NEED?
Are you new to all this web development stuff? If so, you will probably need some support and assistance with your web hosting, whether it be during setting it up or maintaining it. When choosing a web hosting service provider, you should make sure that you pick one that has a good reputation for its customer service and support. You might find a really cheap hosting package on a less known web host website, but do they have good customer service and support? It would definitely be worth paying an extra couple of dollars a month to a more reputable service provider with reliable customer support as opposed to a cheap provider with bad or no support.
Leading web hosting providers often have 24 hours round the clock phone and live chat support. They will make sure all your questions and problems are solved, your hosting and website are set up properly, and you are happy. That sounds good, right? And best of all, you can have all of that even with some of the lowest costing hosting packages from leading web host providers. To name a few reputable top web-hosting providers, here are a few: NameCheap, GoDaddy, HostGator. There are plenty more really good hosting providers out there, just make sure you pick one with good customer support if you think you will need it.
HOW MUCH TRAFFIC WILL YOUR WEBSITE BE GETTING? ESTIMATE AND BE REALISTIC
We all like to think that once we launch a website, it will get tens of thousands of visitors fairly quickly. Most of the time that is not the case. Hosting providers generally base their pricing and packages around storage and bandwidth usage. If your website does not get much traffic, you won’t need a lot of bandwidth. But if your website manages to reach a top spot on Google or goes viral on social media, you will definitely need higher bandwidth requirements.
You should be honest with yourself when estimating how much traffic you will get. It would be a big waste to spend a lot on expensive hosting only to receive a low amount of traffic and visitors. There is no harm in starting with a cheaper and lower-priced hosting package and then upgrading to a higher package in the future when you need it. Upgrading your website package can be very simple and straight forward – sometimes it can be done with a few clicks of a button. $10 or less hosting packages can often support hundreds of daily visitors completely fine. Don’t waste your money on a more expensive package until your website really needs and requires it. Start small and work your way up.
UNDERSTAND THE DIFFERENT OPTIONS AND SERVER TYPES
The cheapest type of web hosting is often a shared hosting service. This means that you may be sharing the same hosting box as hundreds of other websites. The performance of all the other websites and services on your shared hosting will have a direct impact on your own website. If another website on the same shared hosting as you gets overloaded, you will notice your website will load very slowly, or sometimes not at all. As well as that, shared hosting often limits your access to server capabilities. It might not allow you to upload via FTP or SFTP which prevents shell access, and restricts what programs you can run on the service.
The next tier up from shared web hosting is a VPS (Virtual Private Server). A VPS is a full instance of a virtual machine running on a box. Similar to shared hosting, there can be multiple VPS’s on a single box. But generally, performance is almost always better than basic shared hosting packages. VPS’s are slightly a bit more technical. You should know basic server maintenance and management if you plan on using a VPS.
If you don’t want to share your server performance with other websites and services, you can get something called a Dedicated Server. This is a physical server box which is entirely dedicated to you. You will almost never need one of these unless your website has extremely high requirements. Dedicated servers are usually housed in a service provider’s data center. These require a lot more server management knowledge and are not recommended for newbies.
BE WARY OF “UNLIMITED” SERVICE PACKAGE OPTIONS
A lot of service providers offer very cheap “unlimited” service packages. But lets be honest, if they really were unlimited – everyone would be using them. Service providers rarely ever really give you unlimited services. There will usually be something in the fine print that states they can deny you service or slow down your service if you go over a certain limit.
“Unlimited” service packages are not always bad. These low cost packages can make a great choice for small websites. It only becomes a problem if you start using too much bandwidth. But then again, upgrading is always an option. Service providers are usually quite happy to assist you in doing so. It means you will be paying them a bit more each month.
Make sure you own your domain
Some of the shadier service providers can sell you a “package deal” which includes a *free* domain with your website hosting. This is generally not a good idea because if you are getting a free domain, they are getting that money out of you some other way.
I have read horror stories of people having to pay hundreds to buy their domain after unknowingly not purchasing it after getting it for free. In one story I read – a small business owner had to pay $300 to be able to transfer his domain to another service provider after a year of using them. There was something in the fine print that said if he wants to transfer his free domain to another host, he would have to pay $300. That’s a lot more than just straight-up buying a domain for $10/year. Don’t fall victim to this trick. You are better off just buying your domain.
Don’t sweat it. Experience is the best teacher
If you have already dished out a big chunk of money for hosting, fear not. You can always downgrade to a cheaper hosting package that is more suitable. I went straight for a VPS when I set up my first website. The VPS cost me $40 a month and at the time I thought that was exactly what I needed. It wasn’t what I needed. It was an over-kill. After a few months having to pay that for a tiny website, I downgraded to a much cheaper shared hosting plan. And to my surprise, my website ran completely fine, albeit a tiny bit slower. But for $4/month, a 1/10 of what I was paying before, I can’t complain. I had no complaints from visitors about it being slow, and I was saving so much. I also learned a valuable lesson about the best hosting options.
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