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Many web hosting packages are available in today’s market, with a wide array of features. Therefore it may seem a daunting task to select the hosting web package that best suits your needs. That’s where this web hosting guide should help.
The things to consider when selecting your web host are as follows:
Tips on comparing web hosting:
How should you compare web hosts?
We understand it can be overwhelming when choosing a host for the first time, with so many web hosting providers offering seemingly similar services. It is not easy knowing what to compare web hosting providers on:
Do you compare by price? – Comparing a web hosting provider on price alone is excellent if you are on a budget.
By site speed? – Knowing that you are going to get the help when you need it is essential.
By customer support? – Remembering that you are going to get the help when you need it is essential.
By the amount of storage? – Ensuring that you have enough space for all your files and emails.
It can be challenging, as, in an ideal world, you would want everything in one plan. Everyone’s needs are different too. What is cheap to some is not affordable to others.
- Tip: Compare web hosts on value, not price – Comparing on price alone doesn’t mean you will always get the features or support you need. Look at additional features such as free domain names, number of websites you can host. If you are purchasing these separately, they can all add up.
- Tip: Customer support when you need it – This is where a lot of web hosting companies fail. It is the #1 thing that gets complained about on web hosting review sites. Ensuring that you receive the right level of customer service on the medium you want. If you’re not an experienced developer or techy, you’re going to need this more than more seasoned developers. Not everyone is concerned about 24/7 telephone support. However, a good knowledge base and responsive live chat or ticket-based support are crucial.
- Tip: Compare the uptime percentages – Having an available website is essential, not only can a site that is down frustrate your visitors it can harm your rankings in search engines too. In an ideal world, your web host would have 100% uptime. In the real world, this is not always possible; however, as close to 99.99% update SLA would be acceptable to most. That 0.01% downtime still equates to 52 minutes and 36 seconds of downtime per year.
Many quality web hosting providers will display their server uptime stats, so if you are considering a provider that does check them out to see how they compare.
Comparing web hosting features
What is the purpose of your website?
There are many reasons why companies or individuals require a website; for instance, it may be an individual who wants their web site or a company trying to promote and sell their goods or services. Depending on your circumstances, will determine how important each feature of the to you.
How much web space do you need?
When comparing the amount of web space offered you’ll see it can vary considerably. Generally, the more space you require, the more you will have to pay for it (although this is not always the case when taking all hosting providers into account).
Webspace is the number of files you will be allowed to host on your website, the more data you upload, the more it will eat away at your allowance, larger and more graphically rich files will use more space.
Therefore the size web site and its content will determine the amount of web space you need.
Remember that 1GB of allowance is quite a large amount and can adequately support many web pages, therefore don’t feel pressured into getting the biggest amount, think carefully about the number of pages you need, and you can always upgrade.
Many people new to web design and hosting packages choose web space that far exceeds their needs. Therefore it is always worth starting at lower level and building up when you understand your needs more.
What level of bandwidth or data transfer do you require?
The bandwidth is the amount of traffic that is allowed to and from your website over a period of time, usually a month.
Every time someone views a page, they will download data from the server which uses bandwidth.
Therefore it is important to have a feel for the number of visitors you expect to visit your site. If you exceed your limit in a month, then your hosting provider could prevent any more visitors from viewing your site until your limit is increased.
Do you need any email mailboxes?
Most web hosting providers will provide a certain number of email addresses as part of the package.
If your website is for personal use, then an email address and access linked to your website may not be that important to you. However, business for customers then having email addresses linked to your website and domain name may be useful as well as easy access to the mail.
Do you need a domain name as well?
You will need a domain name to have a website hosted on the internet. If you have purchased a domain name already, then you will not need to purchase one as part of your hosting package.
The domain name you choose should be related to the business that you are running or the content of your web site, make sure you choose wisely as you will be stuck with this name for the life of your site.
Some hosting providers offer a free domain with their hosting packages, so if you need one this can be a cost-effective way of getting your hands on one (but be aware that the cost of this is sometimes hidden in a one-off set up fee, which can be more or less than the domain cost but generally tends to be more)
Do you need help in setting up your website?
Web hosting packages have various features from the basic packages which just provide space for your package to ones that will help build your site or give you tools to help you.
Features of hosting packages include:
- Sitebuilders: which give you a step by step guide on creating your web site, by following defined steps and making the process simple. All you need is the content for your website.
- Web page templates: which are standard templates for pages, providing a structure for your site. You select the template from the range available and add your content and links to each one.
- Web site statistics: which provide data on your web site, such as the number of visitors, the pages they have landed, how long they have stayed on your site and where they left your site, as well as many others.
- Free images: some hosting providers provide a range of clipart for you to include on your website to help you get some images and colour into the pages you develop.
- Plus many others
Many of the additional features are there to help those that are new to web design, more confident developers may be happier either using their own software or simply writing pages in HTML and uploading them directly to the server. The features you require will all depend on your personal preferences and your level of expertise.
What level of support do you require?
We discussed earlier the importance of customer support from a web hosting provider. Do you need to be in constant contact with your hosting provider, or do you rarely (if ever) need assistance? Some hosting companies only have web-based support others have 24/7 support through phone, email or web. If your website is business critical, then this could be very important to you.
Therefore you need to make sure the hosting company caters for your needs and has the right level of support before you buy.
Is security and service levels important?
Hosting providers offer various SLA’s (service level guarantees) which give various levels of uptime (or downtime), different levels of backup as well as security levels.
Again the level you require will depend on the importance of your website to you or your business, for instance, an e-commerce site would need high levels of uptime because when the site is down, it will mean that they can’t make any sales which can affect the profitability as well as the liquidity of the enterprise.
Compare web hosting prices
This is sometimes the most important factor to consider when purchasing your hosting package, and it will impact the quality of the package. There are plenty of decent packages available for a reasonable fee and many offer trials so that if you can try them out and see if they meet your needs.
When comparing the prices of a package make sure you compare the costs of the full year as there may be set-up fees on some and not others, and the headline price you see may only apply to the early months of the contract. Also, be aware of any hidden fees that may be incurred with a hosting package which may result in you spending far more than you expected or planned too.
Answering the above questions should help you decide on what requirements you have from your hosting package and provider and help you pick your package.
Other hosting features to compare.
There are so many things to compare, it’s bewildering, here’s just a few of them:
- Site speed
- WordPress support
- SSL certificates
- Caching tools
The list goes on. What you need to do is create a list of your business needs and thoroughly research what’s best for you!