Choosing a web hosting company is a big decision having many consequences. The hosting company greatly influences your website’s speed and reliability, causing your visitors to leave with either a good or bad impression.
Whether you’re looking to host your very first site or want to move an existing site to a new provider, taking the time to think through each of the following items can help you feel confident that you have made the best decision that will meet your needs long into the future.
No matter how good a host may be, it’s likely you’ll need to work with its support team at some point. Discover your comfort level when communicating with them upfront, as this may very well impact how quickly you arrive at issue resolution.
Some web hosts require that you work through their ticketing system. Others have a phone-in option, use live web chat, or want you to reach them via email. So what is the best way to get in touch with them? Is the team available 24/7 or only during certain hours?
In evaluating host contenders, reading reviews can help you make a more informed decision. A company I worked for (Hostadvice.com) is one of the resources you can use here—it’s a community of webmasters who share their experiences with different hosting providers to help find the most suitable option.
A control panel or portal is the interface you’ll use to manage your website once it’s live. Here you can do such tasks as perform a manual backup, reset your server (if allowed), or configure additional domains. Two of most popular control panel options are cPanel and Plesk. Choosing a host that offers one of these helps make site maintenance easier.
Beyond providing you a server(s) where you can load your site contents, some hosts include many features, others make them available as add-ons, and still others don’t offer any of them. These include:
- Disk storage and bandwidth limitations
- Software installation script library
- Website design tools and themes
- Domain registration and privacy protection
Selling Downloadable Files
Many individuals who want to start a website do so with the intent of selling downloadable files. It could be a self-written eBook, songs the person recorded, an instructional or “how-to” video, or any number of other types of files. When selling downloadable files from a website it’s not enough to just be able to upload the files to the site — you need a system that includes a shopping cart and a means of automating the processes. That is, a system that auto-emails a buyer a download link so the buyer can immediately download the purchased file or files. For that type of website MadBeeTech is perhaps one of the best hosts (and one of the most inexpensive as well).
Price of Hosting
Web host pricing is nowhere near uniform. Only by taking the time to comparatively shop will you finding a company that offers high quality hosting at a reasonable price. Determine accepted payment methods and look for discounts if you’re able to pay for service a year in advance.
A web host’s primary function is to hold the files that define a website on a server, and provide a 24/7 connection from that server to the Internet. After your site is up and running, getting traffic to your site isn’t the responsibility of the web host. Some hosts do, however, offer search engine optimization (SEO) services for an additional fee. In order for your site to “get found” in Google searches there is a good chance that you’ll want to take advantage of such a service.
Having your site hosted at a datacenter that is geographically close to your target audience helps maximize site load speed experienced by your visitors. The previously mentioned MadBeeTech Web Hosting has their servers located in the United States for the purpose of reliable service. Having said that, organizations catering to a global audience should disregard this and consider using a content delivery network instead (see below), as it will replicate their website in multiple geolocations to improve performance.
In starting a new website, perhaps you only need a simple, shared hosting account. But once it becomes a success, your hosting needs will likely grow commensurately. In looking ahead, then, you may want to use a hosting company that provides such expansion options as extra disk drive space.