All websites on the Internet require web hosting, and unless you’re a very large company with your own IT infrastructure capable of hosting your own web services, you’ll need to outsource this function to a web hosting provider. How should you go about choosing a web hosting provider and what should you do to ensure you don’t overpay for web hosting services?
What Is A Web Hosting Provider?
A web hosting provider is a company that provides the hardware, software, and IT infrastructure for a website and its corresponding services. Without a web host, your website simply wouldn’t exist, and the quality of your web host directly corresponds to how quickly and reliably your website is presented to visitors. The web hosting service hosts the files and folders, images, database and software executable files that make up your website.
Differences In Hosting
While there are a handful of different web hosting options, shared hosting and dedicated servers are two of the better options that are out there.
Shared hosting is the most common website hosting solution. What this means, is your website will share a web server with many other websites. Shared hosting provides companies with the ability to host fully-featured websites at a very reasonable cost.
For larger, more complex websites, dedicated servers may be required. A dedicated server offers faster and much more reliable hosting, as well as the ability to run more complex website code but they cost significantly more money – often ten or more times than a shared hosting plan.
There are cases where a dedicated server is required for website performance and functionality. Complex functionality, website applications, and heavily trafficked sites are all reasons to potentially look at a dedicated server solution.
Not all Shared Hosting Services are Created Equal
While there are many options for shared hosting services, all with various costs, there are a few things to make note of when choosing the proper service to start your website project.
- Are they a reputable service? Will they be around in five years?
- Do they have tiered options available for when your business grows? It’s easier to stay with the same service and upgrade your hosting than moving to a new hosting service.
- Do they provide additional options that could serve your business? Do they support some of the more popular Content Management Systems, like WordPress? Do they provide options for business email?
- Do they have reliable customer service?
Customer Service Is Key
Often the most significant and important factor when choosing a web host is their customer service and support options. When something goes wrong with your web hosting service, you will want to speak to a representative on the phone that can provide immediate assistance. You want a service that takes responsibility for the hardware and services that you are paying them for. There are some hosting services that will only communicate to their clients through email. This makes resolving hardware problems or a website outage much more difficult to resolve.
Reliability And Technology
It is also important to research the reliability of each web provider. Most prominent web hosts have a robust and reliable infrastructure and can guarantee almost perfect “uptime”, but smaller or discount web hosts without a robust infrastructure in place may not be as reliable. Furthermore, the more reliable hosting services often update and modify their services often so that they are adaptable to the constant changes in technology and security that the internet faces. If a hosting service that your website is hosted on fails to update their technology for a significant amount of time, your website could face security issues and problems that other services already addressed and fixed.
Choose A Reputable Hosting Service
Some hosting providers allow unethical and even criminal groups to host illegal websites, such as websites that distribute malware, pirated intellectual property, or other illegal material. Some hosts also allow spammers to operate on their networks. Even if you aren’t participating in these activities, associating with these hosting providers can cause your emails to be blocked by other networks and your websites to be flagged by security companies. Your website may even be taken offline if servers are seized by law enforcement or “attacked” over the Internet by rival criminal groups. With a little preplanning and research, it is easy to avoid bad hosting providers and ensure that your web hosting experience will be mostly hassle-free.