There are many web hosts out there wanting your business, but not all hosting services are created equal. That is why you need to know how to choose the right web hosting service for your needs. In fact, your needs are what determine the best fit for you. You also have to know what qualities make up a great host so you can find one.
Identify Your Hosting Needs
Before you look at the different qualities of good web hosts, you need to know what you need. Ask yourself the following questions:
- What time of website am I building?
- Do I need to use special software?
- Do I need a host that also offers website building tools?
- Do I need a host that allows FTP uploads?
- How much web traffic am I looking for?
These questions are important because most hosts have multiple packages, and each package may cap bandwidth, how much traffic you are allowed to have with that particular package, e-commerce capabilities, the number of databases, and more. By identifying the type of site and the target size of your traffic, you have made the first step toward choosing the right host.
Qualities of a Good Web Host
The following are 18 qualities to look for in a good web host.
When you decide to compare web hosts, it is important to look at reputable hosts. These hosting companies have longevity under their belts, so you have plenty of information to measure and compare.
2. Server Uptime
Server uptime shouldn’t be less than 99.8%. There is a very small amount of wiggle room for the host to have downtime, because it can happen, but any downtime should be extremely negligible.
To determine what type of uptime a web host has, you want to look at its reviews. A Google search can go a long way as you determine which hosts have had the most downtime according to their users. Make sure you look at dates to ensure that all the downtime you are seeing isn’t from the same event.
Real life example – The following is the uptime record for InMotion Hosting on March 2017. Note that there’s no downtime recorded since August 2016.
3. Shared Hosting vs. Private Hosting
Shared hosting is a low-cost option that allows you tens of thousands of unique visitors and a good amount of space. This is a great place to start if you aren’t sure how big your site will become. Think about 12 months in advance, so you have a good foundation to start with.
If you think your website is going to grow big within the next few years, private or dedicated hosting may be what you need. It comes at a higher expense, but a site that is growing is one that will most likely generate more than adequate revenue.
Cost is very important. You want the highest quality for the lowest cost.
However, make sure you don’t opt for a package that has less than you need. The good news is that if you find that you are getting close to the visitor cap your plan allows, you can upgrade.
As mentioned earlier, shared hosting will cost less than dedicated hosting. Again, the size of the site will determine what you need. You also need to look at the signup cost vs. the annual renewal cost. For shared hosting, around $10 per month is acceptable for monthly renewal. However, paying an entire year or even two years at once will save money.
5. Trials and Refunds
Some hosts offer trial periods, which means they will give you a refund if you aren’t satisfied with the service. If trials and refunds are offered, see if they refund the entire amount you paid or just a portion of it. Some hosting companies charge cancellation fees.
6. Website Backup
Websites can crash and can be hacked, which is why it’s imperative to have backups so the site can be restored quickly. If a host backs up websites regularly, then you don’t have to worry if an incident occurs. The host should be able to restore most, if not all, of the site quickly.
7. Website Security
Some hosts offer security features. While there is never a foolproof security method, security features can ensure that the chance of hacking is reduced significantly.
8. Customer Support
When something is wrong with your hosting, there is no time to waste. You can’t wait for customer support. Having 24/7 customer support is important, particularly live chat that allows you to get the help you need without having to pick up the phone.
9. E-Commerce Capabilities
If you plan to sell items through your website, you need e-commerce features. The host may offer shopping cart software if you don’t already have your own. Having a host with good e-commerce features support, a dedicated IP, SSL certification, and shopping cart software if you need it will allow you to run an online store properly.
10. Room to grow
Not all web hosts cater to everyone. For instance, a shared host may not have packages that accommodate a growing business. Some may not offer VPS or dedicated hosting solutions. And there are hosting companies that focus on blogging only. The key is to find hosting companies that you are comfortable with.
11. A User-Friendly Control Panel
A control panel, or cPanel, that is easy to use is very important. You at least should be able to make basic changes. If a control panel is difficult to follow, you may find yourself at the mercy of tech support more than you want to.
12. Reasonable Account Limits
A hosting plan may say that it is unlimited, but the fact is that there are limits. A web host may opt to suspend your account if you are using too much bandwidth or violating any aspect of its rules. Make sure you read the terms and conditions and rules for having a website so you can make sure you stay within compliance.
13. Email Account Availability
You most likely want an email address with your domain, so you want a host that can host your email. However, you may have found a great host that doesn’t host email. That’s OK, because there are other programs on the internet that will. Google Email Apps will host an email using your domain name. Just make sure the email service you choose has all the features you need.
14. Contract Period
Some hosts will allow you to pay month to month while others require a year. There are also some that require a two-year subscription. Unless there are money-back guarantees, you may not want to pay for two years in advance.
15. Add-On Features
Look at the add-on features that are offered. Does the host offer anything like free domain privacy? See if what it is offering is important to you and compare these features and their costs, or lack of cost, with one another.
16. Connection Speed
This is different from website load time. You need good connection speed so that changes made on the website will show almost immediately. You don’t want an urgent change to take hours to appear.
17. Host Operating System
Many hosts use Linux because that’s the industry standard. If you have a website that is using Microsoft.NET tools, you’ll need to use a Windows server. For most people new to setting up a blog or website, the operating system the host uses isn’t important. Windows servers aren’t as secure as Linux servers are, which is something to consider.
18. File Size Limits
Watch out for file size limits. Some hosts will limit the size of each file you upload. If you need to upload large files, this could cause a problem for you, and it could limit the type of files you can use.
The Bottom Line
Consider these 18 elements, and you will be able to find a host that meets all your needs. Determine what is important to you, compare hosts, and make your decision. That way, you can run a website that can easily grow and make the revenue you are looking for.
About the author – Jerry Low
Jerry Low is a geek dad who’s passionate in search optimization and building web assets. You can find out more of his work at Web Hosting Secret Revealed.