Starting a website requires some consideration on what is needed for your website and what to look for when searching for the best hosting provider. And you might be overwhelmed with this many providers each offering several different plans.
All of them promise just the right performance, customer support, and value for money.
A simple question "Where should I host my website?" turns out to include many little questions within. To help you make a good decision, here's a guide with 10 things you should consider when looking where to host a website:
- Consider what you need from your hosting subscription
- Check if there is an opportunity for growth
- Evaluate how reliable is your host
- Compare pricing of similar plans
- Test the hosting before you commit
- Check your host’s control panel functionalities
- Ask yourself if you need email hosting
- Look for auto-installer scripts
- Go for a provider that backs up your website regularly
- Check the support resources
1. Consider What You Need From Your Hosting Subscription
Before selecting a web host provider, evaluate your individual needs. The truth is, all websites have different storage and bandwidth requirements. Take a personal blog vs an online store, for example. Both these types of websites will have different amounts and types of media content, among various other features.
However, if your personal blog includes a lot of media such as high-resolution images and videos, you may find that you need to choose a host that provides a large amount of both bandwidth and storage.
In addition to the style of the website you’re creating, decide the type of application, script, and software you need. Also, make a prediction of your immediate and future traffic volumes. This will allow you to establish the type of server your preferred host must have.
Aside from considering the type of site you’re creating, you also need to think about how to build a website itself.
Reputable hosting providers like Bluehost, Hostinger, SiteGround, InMotion Hosting, and DreamHost all provide one-click installation of WordPress. This platform is one of the most popular content management systems (CMS) as it is powering up nearly one-third of the world's active Internet sites. Surely, there are other great options such as Joomla or Drupal.
Another thing to consider is going with a website builder. In some instances that would be all you need. Such software is versatile and easy to master. Simple and fast drag-and-drop website builder requires absolutely none previous code knowledge.
However, using website builders you have limited control over the looks and functions of your website. And sometimes these platforms aren't even that easy to use.
2. Check If There Is Opportunity For Growth
When your traffic volume increases over time, you need to upgrade your hosting subscription to meet these growing needs. And you want to be able to stay with the same provider - after all, there is nothing worse than having to switch hosting providers once your site is already well established.
Depending on the type of business you’re creating, you have to choose which hosting type you need.
For a start, shared hosting is the most cost-efficient method of hosting your site. However, it doesn’t offer the same server control as VPS or dedicated hosting.
So, if you start out small, you can go with shared hosting, and then upgrade to VPS hosting, followed by dedicated hosting. And do all that without changing the provider!
3. Evaluate How Reliable Your Host Is
When asking yourself: “What web host should I use”, the answer should always be “the most reliable one”. The main goal is to get the host that can keep your website up and running 24/7.
When researching web hosts online, be sure to check each providers’ uptimes by reading online reviews. Or you can track the web host with a free server monitoring tool yourself.
Your web host should be up at least 99.95% of the time. And if it has uptimes of less than 99%, you can probably do better elsewhere.
Thing is, if your website is down too often, it will hurt the reputation of your business. And although 99% seems like an already high number, calculating the lost time, it makes 15 minutes each day. And this will likely result in poor levels of overall user experience.
Next thing is the load times. There is no way to impress viewers if the page simply doesn't load properly. You need those servers to be fast! The average load time shouldn't be less than 300ms if you want a good user experience.
Furthermore, look for server locations: the more, the better. If there is just one data center, you must note that the speed in more distant locations will be much slower. So check out if the host's server locations match the regions of your website's viewers.
4. Compare Pricing Of Similar Plans
The top hosting providers offer a selection of extremely competitive plans for you to choose from. But these are often much cheaper at sign up. Meaning, that once you renew your subscription, you may find that it has doubled in price. With this in mind, be wary of providers offering -50% or more at signup.
The truth is, there is no way to get around expensive renewal costs unless you’re willing to switch providers every couple of years. Before signing up for a plan, check each provider’s individual subscriptions and their prices. While you can expect the renewal cost to be more expensive, this shouldn’t be more than double the signup costs.
Another tip - choose a host that offers short term contracts. The majority of hosting providers will try and lure you into a long-term contract by offering lower monthly costs. However, you should avoid these five-year+ contracts unless the provider is offering a clear money-back guarantee period.
The thing is, hosting market is changing rapidly and the future here is unpredictable. If the hosting provider goes bankrupt, you would have paid for a long-term subscription but you won’t be able to reap the benefits of your investment.
Or, after a few years, your investment won't look so smart, as your servers would be lagging behind and the competitors would offer better services for a better price.
I recommend you avoid contracts that are longer than two years old. If your two-year contract is up and you’re still happy with your host, then you can sign up for another one at a later date.
5. Test the Hosting Before You Commit
The majority of confident web hosting providers will allow you to test their services before making a large financial commitment. If there's no free trial, look for a money-back-guarantee period.
With this in mind, check your provider’s trial and refund policies before signing up.
Whatever you do, make sure to avoid hosting providers with high cancellation fees. Instead, go for a host that gives you the chance to test its services with the option to back out of your contract, free of charge.
Remember that these pro-rated refunds do have a date limit on them so it’s important that get your refund before that period is over.
6. Check Your Host’s Control Panel Functionalities
Your control panel is where you’ll be able to manage everything to do with your hosting and certain aspects of your website. Whatever control panel your hosting provider offers, make sure that it has all the functionalities you need to keep your site up and running the way you want it.
In short, a hosting panel is a place where most of the important things are going to happen. This is where you will create subdomains, install software, keep track of your resources and do many other day-to-day things.
Therefore, along with all the necessary functionalities, your panel should be easy-to-use.
The best example is Linux cPanel. It implements a simple drag-and-drop system, similar to something from tablets or mobile phones.
Here the important things are very easy to locate and control. cPanel is simple, efficient, used by many hosts and it goes a long way. A similar interface is used for shared web hosting and for advanced dedicated server management.
Moreover, due to its popularity, if something becomes slightly difficult, you also won't have problems finding a fitting tutorial.
Some hosting providers make their own panels, but those aren't necessarily good platforms. However, there are some good examples like Hostinger - providing simple, powerful and intuitive in-house panel.
So before choosing your hosting provider, read online reviews or contact each provider’s customer support team and ask them questions about their control panel’s functions and interface.
7. Ask Yourself If You Need Email Hosting
If you’re starting a website for business purposes, you’ll most likely want a matching business email. If this is the case, make sure to check that your hosting provider offers email hosting before you pay for a subscription.
Truthfully, the majority of reputable hosting providers will allow you to host your own email. However, while the lack of email hosting may seem like a dealbreaker, there are other simple ways you can host your email. Google Suite, for example, will allow you to set up your own business email for as little as $6 a month, per user.
8. Look For Auto-installer Scripts To Make Your Life Easier
Auto-installer scripts are additional programs, that can be used for many various things. With just a few clicks you can get integrations for all types of things. Creating blogs, message boards, even learning systems - improve your website easily.
In general, there is nothing stopping you from downloading any of these apps without an auto-installer. However, for a beginner, building databases and manually installing applications is a hassle not worth enduring. For a start, having so many apps on your fingertips is a great advantage.
Some hosts offer you very few scripts - in our reviews, we have encountered providers offering as little as 4. But there can be as many as 300 applications for clients to choose from. Naturally, you'd want a host which offers you a good selection. You can't be choosing a web hosting based solely on that but in general, that's an important thing to look for.
9. Go for a Provider That Backs Up Your Website Regularly
One of the main benefits of choosing the best web host is regular backups. Whether your computer crashes, someone hacks your website, or your database goes down, your web host should be able to restore it in a matter of seconds. Whichever host you go for, make sure that it performs regular backups of your website.
Additionally, check that you can perform manual backups whenever you want via your control panel. You should also be able to restore your backup files whenever you choose to. If something happens to your site, you shouldn’t have to wait for the customer support team to restore it for you.
10. Check The Support Resources
Before you enroll with a hosting plan, ensure you're getting top-notch customer support. When you are thinking of where to host a website, it's something that should be on the top of your list of considerations.
It is true for both beginners and professionals - no matter how good we think we are, eventually some help will be required. When that happens, make sure you're with a host which takes good care of its customers.
Look for a web host that offers 24/7 live chat and ticket support. Those are the two really good ways to solve your problems, be they technical or not.
Many people also want a working phone service. It is also quite important but in my experience, it's more suitable for sales inquiries. Technical questions are answered best when they're in writing.
So before you make your choice, contact the support team via the various channels provider has. Test out how available and knowledgeable the agents are. And don't be afraid to ask stupid questions! If you are inexperienced, it's in the host's best interests to make sure you become an expert.
Another valuable thing is the tutorials. An established tutorial base is always nice, as it contains answers to many questions you may have. Of course, you can find a lot of information outside the provider's website - we ourselves have a decent amount of tips and tools, like a guide on how to start a website from scratch.
Yet you will still benefit from a hosting provider that has specific info on how the products work.
Look for a provider which has tutorials with visual information: photos and videos. Such tutorials tend to be more in-depth and can provide a thorough guide in case you get really stuck.
Where Should I Host My Website? Conclusions
To make a good choice, take time to consider several things - starting from your own needs to checking the main specifications of providers. Evaluate not only what you need now, but also if the host will suit your needs when your business grows.
And while there are numerous providers to choose from, be sure to check out our top hosting provider reviews to find the most reliable ones.
Do you have other tips that will help readers choose the best host for their website? If so, I’d love to know your thoughts about website hosting in the comments below!