You’ve decided to take your idea to the next level and create your dream website.
But now, you've signed yourself up for one major headache. You must be asking yourself, "Where should I host my website?" and you have plenty of providers, plenty of plans to choose from. All of them promise just the right performance, customer support, and value for money.
So in order to help you choose, I wrote this guide, which should help you pick the right kind of a hosting plan.
Here are the things you should consider when looking where you should host your website:
- Step 1 - Consider what you need from your hosting subscription
- Step 2 - Check if there is an opportunity for growth
- Step 3 - Check your host is reliable
- Step 4 - Compare pricing plans
- Step 5 - Test the hosting before you commit
- Step 6 - Check your host’s control panel functionalities
- Step 7 - Ask yourself if you need email hosting
- Step 8 - Go for a provider that backs up your website regularly
- Step 9 - Choose a host that offers short term contracts
1. Consider What You Need From Your Hosting Subscription
Before selecting a web host provider, it is a good idea to 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.
Usually, the online store would require far more storage space and bandwidth.
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. Aside from considering the type of site you’re creating, you also need to think about the platform you’re going to use to build it. WordPress is the most popular, open source, website builder available today.
With the above in mind, reputable hosting providers like Bluehost, Hostinger, SiteGround, InMotion Hosting, and DreamHost all provide one-click installation of WordPress. In addition to considering the style of website you’re creating, factor in the type of application, script, and software you need. Additionally, try and create a prediction of your immediate and future traffic volumes. This will allow you to establish the type of server your preferred host must have.
2. Check if There Is Opportunity for Growth
When your traffic volume increases over time, you need to know that you can upgrade your hosting subscription to meet these growing needs. After all, there is nothing worse than having to switch hosting providers once your site is already well established.
Depending on the type of website you’re creating, you could start with a shared hosting account. You can then upgrade to VPS hosting, followed by dedicated hosting. 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.
3. Check Your Host Is Reliable
When asking yourself: “What web host should I use”, the answer should always be “the most reliable one”. You must choose a host that can keep your website up and running 24/7. This is because an always-down website is bad for your company image (d'uh) - and it will likely result in poor levels of overall user experience.
When researching web hosts online, be sure to check each providers’ uptimes by reading online reviews. Your web host should be up at least 99.95% of the time. If they have uptimes of less than 99%, you can probably do better elsewhere. You can also track your web host with a free server monitoring tool to check for yourself.
4. Compare Pricing Plans
The top hosting providers offer a selection of extremely competitive plans for you to choose from. That said, these are often much cheaper at sign up. This means 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.
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 they don’t offer a free trial, they likely have 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 their 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.
Aside from coming with all the necessary functionalities, your panel should be easy-to-use.
To find out, simply 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. While 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. 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 as and when 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.
9. Choose a Host That Offers Short Term Contracts
The majority of web hosting providers offer such low prices because you can only benefit from these if you sign up for a long-term contract. However, you should avoid these five-year+ contracts at all costs unless they’re offering a clear money-back guarantee period (or just cost very little).
The reason you should never commit to these long contracts without the chance of backing out is that the future 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.
The majority of hosting providers will try and lure you into a long-term contract by offering lower monthly costs. 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.
Where Should I Host My Website? Additional Considerations to Make
In addition to all the tips outlined above, it’s important that you know that your host’s customer support team has your back whenever you need it.
With this in mind, contact the support team via the various channels they list on their website. Make sure to test every one of them so that you can be sure they’re available when you need them most.
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.