The first, and maybe the most important, thing you need to do when setting up a website is to choose a hosting provider. This will be the home of your website for what will hopefully be many years, and you want to make sure you get the best host possible. Unfortunately, there are so many options out there that it can be confusing. This is especially true if you are new to this whole having a website thing.
Before you finish this article, we hope you feel less confused. In it, we will cover why it is so important to choose the perfect hosting provider. Beyond that, we will break down the process into the most critical steps to help you get started as soon as possible. Let’s get started.
Why Your Hosting Provider is Important
Think of your website as a building. It is essentially the representation of you that many have to rely on. In order to make your home a place where it does all you want it to, location is everything. Consider if you work out of your home. This is basically what your website represents, your business. If you rely on physical customers, you don’t want to set up shop in some unknown area of a swamp or remote jungle. Physically, you don’t want your front door blocked by a wall, or you don’t want only one shelf to hold all your merchandise.
Your website host will influence how fast your site runs, how secure it is, and many other important factors that come together to make the site succeed or fail. By understanding the importance of a good host and knowing how to choose one that meets your needs, you will empower yourself to make the choice that best meets your needs and that of your future customers.
Types of Hosting
There are many different types of hosting, and it is important to know what each is in order to make a good decision. While there are free hosting sites, we aren’t going to discuss those because the ability to customize these is often very limited and doesn’t meet the needs of someone who is serious about succeeding. We will also avoid talking about the self-hosted option. This option requires you to understand things like coding, and most people seeking to manage a website aren’t well-skilled in IT matters. With that said, the most popular hosting choices you will encounter are:
This is often the least expensive. It involves sharing a server with numerous other individuals. This can be anywhere from a dozen to several thousand, depending on the server. Shared hosting can be a good one for those just starting out.
Virtual Private Servers (VPS)
This option also involves sharing a server with numerous other websites. The difference is that the main server is partitioned off into individual sections, allowing for more bandwidth. This means that your website can handle getting more traffic than with a shared server.
With this server, you are not in competition for resources with other websites. This is your own private server. If you are trying to accommodate 100,000 or more visitors a month to your website, this is a slightly more expensive but more logical choice.
This is the option that many large corporations choose. It offers the most security as someone else is in charge of managing the site. This creates security from both hackers and system failures.
The first three options allow you to choose between managed and unmanaged websites. Your decision should be based on how confident you are that you can adequately provide security from hackers and keep the site up and running consistently. Managed websites are a bit more expensive, but they are also less stressful. Now that you know what is available and why it is important to make a choice, let’s discuss the three steps that will get you to that decision.
Making Your Choice
Making your decision about a hosting provider can be boiled down to three answering three questions: What do you need? What does the host offer? and What do others think of it?
Know Your Needs
While your budget may play a part in your decision, there are other factors for you to consider. Will you be expecting a great deal of traffic at first, or will you only require a small site that can accommodate a moderate amount of traffic? Be realistic here. You may envision yourself already successful, but a smaller site that has the option to grow with you over time might be better for now. You also need to ask yourself how well you can handle the technical side of website management. If you are handy with this, you can choose a host that offers almost no support. If, on the other hand, you are new to all things website, you will want to look for a host that provides much more technical support. Once you have narrowed things down by asking yourself these questions, it is time to look for a website that can offer you the features you want at a price you can afford.
Compare Cost and Features
The first thing to consider is what all is included in the plan tier you are considering. Look for hosts that can offer you the items you will need the most. One plan may appear less expensive, but you could end up paying out more if the basic necessities are only available as add-ons at an additional cost. Most hosting options offer several packages, or tiers, that include different start-up features. When considering the cost, determine if things like added support are included in the price. Will the host automatically back things up for you, and how often will this be done? Take your time examining the plans thoroughly and don’t base your decision solely on cost.
Whatever the plan that suits your basic needs entails, there are some givens that you should also consider. You want a host that is willing to guarantee at least a 99 percent uptime. If visitors can’t access your site, then it becomes useless. Downtime is responsible for many would-be customers to look elsewhere for what they want. You will also want a host that can guarantee a speedy response time. Consider only the sites that offer a server response time of under 300 milliseconds.
The greatest judge of anything, whether it is a product or a website host, is how well it is considered to be by those who already use it. Your third step is to ask.
Ask Real Users
Visit websites that offer users a chance to leave honest reviews. If you depend only on the host’s website, you will be led to believe nobody else can match them. After all, they want your business. Read as many honest reviews as possible. Make lists of the positive and negative aspects of each of the hosts you are considering. Once you have gone through a fair amount of these, you should have lists of both the pros and cons of each one. Here is where you decide how important each of these is to you. It is especially important to look at items that keep coming up in many of the reviews. If these are all negative reviews, and the item appears in most of them, it may be better to eliminate that host as a choice. The greater the number of reviews you have, the better the decision can be made. If it seems that every review is positive, you may want to question the accuracy of how the review site chooses the posting of reviews. Every host is going to have a mixture of positive and negative reviews. Your job is to determine what factors into each of these and then decide for yourself how important each is to your personal needs.
Now that you know the choice of a host can help determine how successful your website is and understand what you personally need in a host, you can make a better decision. Knowing the three important questions you need to ask will help ensure that you have the greatest chance of choosing a host that best fits your needs. Figuring out what you need and who has successfully met those same needs in other users is more than three-quarters of the battle. Every website is different, and no one answer can fit all of them. While no host can guarantee your website will be a total success because a lot of that will be determined by factors such as content and marketing, having a host that fits your needs will take a great deal of technical pressure off of you. This will free up your energy to concentrate on creating the best website to represent you. Once you have the hosting in place and the website active, it will be your time to shine.