Web hosting has, much like many other internet services, become a highly competitive global industry. What used to be a straightforward choice about a decade ago is today a conundrum that most people and companies who want to go “online” seem to face.
But on the brighter side of it all, this is not a bad problem to have. Healthy competition, as has been proved again and again, always works in the favor of the customers. The classic “problem of the plenty,” hence, is a blessing in disguise.
If you are planning on launching a website and putting information/data online for others to see, there are some basic and some advanced criteria that you need to weigh your options against before arriving at a conclusion. This article aims to provide some helpful tips and tricks that will go a long way in helping you choose the most suitable—if not the perfect—web host.
Knowing What You Want and What You Need
Before choosing any web host or even reviewing your options, you need to be firm and clear about what it is that you want and what it is that you are going to need from your website. The following set of questions may help you arrive at these answers.
The Nature of Your Website
The nature of the website you are trying to build should largely dictate the choice of your web host.
- Is it a personal website/blog or a commercial website?
- Will the website be information-centric or product-centric?
- Will the website be capturing sensitive information from the users?
- Are there going to be special coding/software needs?
The Scale of Website Operations
Under- or over-optimized websites are never recommended. Hence, knowing the scale of operations and allowing for future expansions is necessary.
- Will your website attract a large number of visitors?
- What is the maximum downtime your website can afford to have?
- Will indefinite storage space be required?
Once you are clear about these requirements, you will find it much easier to compare your options.
Comparing the Reliability Factor of Web Hosts
Be it a personal website or an e-commerce website, keeping it online is of utmost importance, since you will lose a chunk of your visitors once your website starts flashing a “no server response” page.
To compare the reliability of web hosts, the following yardsticks can be applied.
What It Means
What It Should Be
“Uptime” simply means the time for which your website is up and running. Server delays and failures, as well as maintenance, can cause your website to go “down.”
As high as possible (meaning the lowest downtime).
Server responsiveness indicates how quickly the host can resolve incoming visit requests in order to display the web pages.
As high as possible (meaning the lowest ping time).
It signifies how “secure” your website information really is against data corruption, server damages, and potential hack attacks.
As high as possible.
Comparing the Flexibility Factor of Web Hosts
Another important criterion that you need to base your decision upon is the flexibility offered by the web host.
The flexibility factor takes into account following details.
A good web host will always leave you enough room to upscale your data storage and website optimization.
- Number of Domains
Since many web hosts offer multiple domain hosting these days, you might want to go for the host that offers maximum number of domains in a single plan.
- Email Scalability
Email scalability is an often-ignored factor. If you are comparing web hosts, you should watch out for the number of custom email packages the host is offering.
Comparing the Ease of Operations Factor of Web Hosts
Even if you are an accomplished operator yourself or you employ a team of experts to maintain your website, it’s always the best idea to go with the host that offers an easy control panel and maintenance operations. This is especially important for e-commerce websites and frequently updated CMS websites (news, features, blogs, etc.).
These questions will help you compare this factor.
- What mode of control panel does the host offer?
- Does the maintenance of the website require special coding skills?
- Does the host offer enough help/support/assistance regarding potential technical problems?
Comparing the Cost Factor of Web Hosts
Quite obviously, the cost factor can make or break your decisions while choosing a web host. It’s quite easy to compare your options in this regard. You just need to visit their websites and check out their pricing plans for various hosting packages.
If yours is a commercial website, you might want to base your decisions on yearly hosting plans. It’s better to choose wisely because it will later be quite a tedious job to change your web host only because you found a cheaper option.
For personal/small-scale website operators, various coupons and promo offers that float online can be quite useful. These offers are always available if you know where to find them. You can save as much as 90% on web hosting using such offers.
You can start your search at popular coupon websites like “Groupon” and “RetailMeNot.”
Comparing the Technical Superiority Factor of Web Hosts
In a purely technical lookout, you can compare your web hosts on the factors listed below:
- Cron Setup;
- Auto Script Optimization;
- Coding Access;
- Coding Flexibility’
- Back-End Customization;
- Server Hardware Used (difficult to really compare);
- Directory Configuration.
There are various add-ons made available by web hosts. These add-ons are, in most cases, not entirely necessary to run your website satisfactorily, but they are nice additions to the package.
However, these should never play a decisive role in this regard.
Comparing the Online Reputation Factor of Web Hosts
The last, but certainly not the least important factor that you need to compare web hosts against is the kind of reputation they enjoy online.
There are umpteen number of reviews, discussions, forums, and blogs out there that can help you access first-hand experiences that users just like yourself have had with various web hosts.
To sum up this discussion, it would be worth mentioning that there’s very little that separates the web hosts of today. Most of them offer pretty similar features and, hence, your decision should be based more on your website than what is being offered to you.
Choosing a web host should be looked at as setting things in stone—the decision should firm, final, and spot on.