Website hosting services are basically the plot of internet land that your website storefront sits on. If you have a website, it needs to be on the web, and these hosting services are the landlords that put up your site and keep it running so your customers can access and see it when they type in your URL.
There are different types of hosting services that cater to the varying types of businesses. Some web hosting services will build your entire website, while others will just give you the plot of land and the shovel and leave you to it. Depending on your business model and size, you’ll choose a service based on the factors explained below. Once you understand the terminology, you can weigh features and select the service that works best for your company’s needs.
Without the best web hosting, your ability to run a successful website is going to be seriously hindered. There is a dizzying array of web hosting providers competing for your business. How can you pinpoint the best one? Start by keeping the following points in mind:
The first thing you need to do when shopping for a web host is to evaluate your disk space and bandwidth needs. If your site features lots of graphics, dozens of pages, and large amounts of traffic, you're going to need decent bandwidth and disk space. Unlimited plans are available, and they make life easier. If your site is going to be simple and not generate a huge amount of traffic, you should be able to get away with less disk space and bandwidth.
Keep compatibility in mind, too. In the excitement of looking for a website hosting provider, you might overlook one critical thing: the type of operating systems that are supported. You're not going to want to switch operating systems, so double-check this point before settling for a provider.
Reliability and availability are critical characteristics to consider when shopping around for web hosting. The best web hosting providers offer availability rates of 98 and 99 percent, frequently referred to as “Uptime.” It's easy to make such claims, though, so make sure to see if they make good on their promises.
Security is also an essential concern. Choosing a web hosting provider without learning about its available security features is a big mistake. Things like firewalls, daily backups, and user authentication should all be included. It's also nice to receive notifications whenever changes are made because they can alert you to suspicious activity.
Take a look at how we choose the best web hosting sites in the industry in order to make a better decision about which is right for you.
The larger or more complex a website, the more comprehensive a configuration package it's going to need. The main ones are broken down as follows:
Shared web hosting is the basic package that services offer. Your website sits on the same server along with many other websites, so you're sharing the server, and any other resources, such as memory or CPU. These are good for basic website needs such as email sending, file sharing, and base level ecommerce sites. Shared hosting is the cheapest and therefore smartest option for smaller or startup businesses.
A virtual private server is designated for your direct purposes, more than a shared server. You still may be sharing an actual server, but the service creates a virtual server of your very own. That means all the resources are yours alone, from memory storage to processing power and beyond. This is a safer and much more reliable option that keeps your site separate from the others while still maintaining affordability.
Dedicated hosting is already another level. In addition to getting your own server, dedicated hosting lets you take full control over your server. That means you have full administrative access and can set things up the way you like it. This type of package comes with a royal suite of features that may not be necessary for all types of businesses.
WordPress is a shared hosting service that caters to a more specialized clientele. The servers themselves are optimized differently, and have features that are particularly attractive to WordPress performance such as faster load time, pre-installation, security features that work specifically with WordPress, and WordPress updates. This is useful for businesses that have websites created on WordPress.
Hosting quality is affected by several factors that are important to weigh during your decision making process. Some of the most significant ones include:
We mention this in more detail below, and really it’s one of the most important factors to consider, so don’t skimp on uptime. HostGator has one of the best uptime guarantees at 99.98%.
Load time is also really important. Recent studies show that the average attention span has shrunk over the years to smaller than that of a goldfish! So, if your website takes even a drop too long to load a page, your business is dead before it’s even started. To keep yourself in the running, be sure your hosting service has a fast load time. A2Hosting will deliver a 360ml load time for pages, the fastest in the industry.
Because having an issue with your website is nothing to take lightly, you want to make sure customer service is available, knowledgeable, and easy to work with. More on this below.
The number of servers and location plays a huge part in the speed of your website loading and service. Obviously, the more servers available, the faster the service, but where those servers are found in the world will also affect the quality. Look for servers in substantial locations close to you such as the UK, US, or Israel depending on your location.
If you’re looking into web hosting, you’ll hear the term uptime guarantee a lot. That makes a lot of sense considering it is one of the most important factors when choosing a service. Uptime, which is the percentage of time that a hosting service is up and running, will be guaranteed by various companies with a certain percentage of time to be up. That doesn't mean they will definitely go down for the other percentage of the time, but they can say without fail that they will be up for at least that amount of time.
The reason this is important is because you don’t want your site constantly being unavailable or unreachable to your customers. Otherwise, why have a website at all? A high uptime percentage ensures that your audience can see and interact with your website more often. Quality brands like HostGator and Bluehost offer a more than 99% uptime guarantee, and that’s really good for your business.
We come across a lot of the same questions from our readers. Here are some of the most commonly asked questions along with quick answers for your reference:
About how much does web hosting cost?
The package and type of service you get will determine how much you pay. Prices range anywhere from $2.99/month to around $10/month. For a more in-depth answer, check out the pricing and value section below.
Review sites like these have done all the work for you and condensed the information you need into short, concise reviews on each brand. Browse these reviews to get the most data in the least amount of time/effort, in order to make a well-informed decision.
Some choose web hosting providers based solely on price. While that's not a great strategy, you should certainly take pricing into consideration. The best providers offer plans for every budget and in some cases, signing up for longer subscriptions will qualify for extra discounts.
Also, leave some room to grow. Choosing a web hosting plan that meets your website's current needs is great. But, with any luck, your site will grow and expand over time, and your needs may change. Since switching to a new web hosting provider is a major hassle, consider one that offers scalable plans. Meaning, you should be able to upgrade to another plan easily once necessary. Low prices are always nice, but if the low price comes with a limit on space or bandwidth, you need to be sure the deal is really worth it.
Along the same lines, you may want to pay attention to how many email accounts are provided. Whether or not you believe you'll need dozens of email addresses, it's nice to have the option to create as many as possible down the line. In most cases, a larger numbers of email addresses are included in more expensive plans. This feature, while not very important to some, is critical to others.
Even if you're a natural at setting up websites, it's nice to know that help is available if you need it. Confirm that the web hosting provider you choose has 24/7 support and make sure that there are several ways in which to get support, too. The most reliable providers will provide support through email, phone, and online chat, giving you the choice of convenience.
The best support includes customer freedom. Review the providers' policies to ensure that there is a clear, money-back guarantee if you're not satisfied with the product. After narrowing down the search to just a few candidates, search for online reviews about each of them. Ideally, the reviews should come from actual customers on review sites and not a list of published testimonials on the web hosting providers' own websites. It should be pretty easy to get a feel for how a web hosting provider treats its customers from the word on the street.
While providing the basics like bandwidth and disk space are a given, a good web hosting plan will also have at least a few extras. If you're running an online store, keep an eye out for providers that supply ecommerce solutions. If you want to be able to implement quick and easy updates, find a provider that offers content management systems. Make sure that they'll give you access to statistics about your site, as well.
As tempting as it may be to choose a web hosting provider quickly and just get on with your life, it's undeniably better to take your time. In doing so, you'll be able to find a provider you can stick with for the long haul.
Check out some of the top names in the industry:
One of the fastest load times you will find anywhere. It’s also got a 99.98% uptime guarantee (they’re often running at 100%). Not only that, HostGator’s packages are competitively priced, offer great customer support, and deliver an overall terrific user experience. Learn more about HostGator.
Only a close second to HostGator, Bluehost’s cloud service offers a 99.96% uptime guarantee and lags only a fraction of milliseconds behind. If you aren’t very up to speed on computer technologies, you’re going to appreciate Bluehost’s easy to use format that’s been designed to be user-friendly and intuitive. Check out Bluehost’s full review.
A2 Hosting boasts the fastest load time in the industry, clocking in at 361ms on average. They also have a 99.96% uptime guarantee and 24/7 US local customer support that’s available via phone or live chat, so you can reach them anytime, and you won't have to break your teeth to get an answer. Find out more about A2 Hosting.