Figuring out how to choose a web hosting company or service can be much more challenging than it seems. After all, your hosting service forms the foundation of your site.
Whether you’re launching a new e-commerce store, a blog, or just creating your own digital portfolio, the right hosting will make or break your chances of success.
The hosting solution you choose determines how quickly your pages load, how easy it is for users to purchase products, and even how reliable your website will be.
Fail to choose the correct hosting service the first time around, and you could end up dealing with endless security challenges, customer experience issues, and unnecessary expenses. You might even end up doing irrevocable damage to your brand’s reputation.
But with so many different web host companies out there promising benefits like 99.9% uptime, unlimited resources, and expert customer support – how do you make an educated choice?
Today, we’re going to be looking at the 12 crucial factors any would-be website owner should consider when selecting the ultimate hosting service.
1. The Type of Website You’re Building
The very first thing any entrepreneur or “webmaster” should think about when choosing a web hosting service is what kind of site they’re going to be building.
Think of web hosting as the “battery” for your website.
The amount of juice you need to run a multi-functional e-commerce store with dozens of product pages, pop-up offers, and checkout pages is likely to be very different from the power you need for a basic one-page portfolio.
While there’s no one-size-fits-all strategy for deciding which type of hosting you should have for each site, you can usually assume a more complex website will require more powerful hosting.
It’s also worth noting that some hosting providers do offer specialized types of hosting for specific sites. For instance, if you’re creating a blog on WordPress, you might opt for a WordPress-managed service hosting provider who can help you make the most of your CMS (content management system). If you’re running an online store or any online event registration website, you might choose a hosting provider that specializes in e-commerce or events, with extra security for transactions and sales.
2. Traffic and Bandwidth
“Bandwidth” is one of the terms you’ll encounter pretty frequently when you’re learning how to choose a web hosting service. Essentially, it refers to the volume of traffic, requests, and visits your site receives each month. If you’re planning on running a huge website with millions of potential users, then you might want to consider a hosting provider offering “unlimited bandwidth.”
However, if you’re starting off relatively small and want to track down a better deal on your hosting solution, you don’t necessarily need to commit to “unlimited” bandwidth.
You can estimate the amount of bandwidth you’re likely to need for your site by taking the average size of each page on your website and multiplying it (in KB) by the number of visitors you’re likely to receive. Multiply the result by the average number of page views for each visitor.
If you don’t know all of those numbers, you can just guess. Start with a small amount of bandwidth and scale up as your business and visitor numbers grow.
3. Storage Requirements
The amount of “storage” offered by your hosting provider determines how much data you can store on your website at any given time. Every page, video, image, and piece of text you upload to the web takes up a specific amount of storage.
If you don’t have enough, then your website will slow down and stop running effectively.
Most basic blogs and portfolio websites won’t require a huge amount of storage. An average website can operate easily with just around 1GB of space on a hosting system. However, if you’re planning on uploading a lot of videos, and memory-intensive content to your site, you may need more storage.
Most hosting providers can offer a range of different levels of storage. Ideally, you’ll want to start relatively small, but ensure you can increase your storage as your needs evolve.
4. Types of Hosting
When you’re learning how to select a web hosting company, you’ll quickly discover there are many different types of hosting available for different requirements. Shared hosting, which involves sharing the resources used to run your website with a variety of other companies, is the cheapest option. However, it’s not always the most secure or powerful hosting choice for bigger companies.
VPS and cloud hosting options can be ideal for companies in search of a good deal and more functionality from their hosting services. Cloud and VPS hosting options give you a little more versatility and control over your site without a huge expense. There’s also the option to consider specialist hosting, such as Managed WordPress hosting, if you’re running a WordPress blog.
The most expensive option for hosting is “Dedicated hosting,” which involves gaining complete access to a hosting server you don’t share with anyone else. Dedicated hosting can either be managed entirely by you or delivered as a “managed service,” depending on your needs. While this hosting option gives you more freedom and flexibility, it will also quickly eat into your profits.
5. Server Location
It’s easy to overlook the importance of choosing the right server location when you’re selecting a hosting solution. After all, you don’t actually need to be situated close to your host provider to ensure you can run an effective website. However, the physical location of your hosting provider’s servers does influence how quickly pages can be delivered to users.
For instance, imagine your business and target customers are located in the United States, but your servers are hosted in Sweden. For data to get from the servers in Sweden to your US customers, they need to go through a variety of different channels, which can lead to issues with site speed and availability. Selecting a hosting provider closer to home can therefore improve the user experience of your website.
When your website UX improves, your customer satisfaction levels and even your SEO rankings can increase too. If you can’t find a hosting provider with servers close to all of your potential customers, you can consider using a CDN instead. A Content Distribution Network ensures your pages can be stored closer to your customers in server locations around the world, reducing loading times.
6. Reliability and Uptime
Any technology, whether it’s hosting services or a CMS system like WordPress, can only deliver benefits when it’s working properly. If your website is constantly going down due to technical issues with your hosting provider, that means you’re going to miss out on opportunities to engage and convert your customers. You might even lose the loyalty of your followers.
Even the smallest amount of downtime can have huge repercussions. For instance, when Amazon went down for 30 minutes 10 years ago, they lost about $66,240 per minute. These days, most hosting providers will provide insights into their average uptime on their pricing page.
The industry standard is around 99.95%, and anything under 99.9% should usually be avoided at all costs. In some cases, your hosting provider might offer an “SLA,” which means they guarantee you’ll achieve a certain level of uptime or you’ll be given compensation.
In most cases, the more you pay for hosting services, the better your uptime will be. Certain types of hosting, such as dedicated server hosting, can also come with extra redundancies and strategies in place to protect you against unexpected downtime.
The online world is an amazing thing, but it’s also brimming with potential threats. This is something most online consumers are all too familiar with. If you want to preserve your brand, protect your customers, and defend your data, you’ll need to look for a hosting company with a strong security approach. Start by looking for server-level firewalls, SSL certificates, and security patching.
Your host provider should always apply the latest OS patches to your server to minimize vulnerabilities and offer access to firewalls that filter out dangerous traffic and hackers.
Some hosting providers will also offer extra protections, such as DDoS protection to defend you against denial of service attacks and two-factor authentication for account protection. There are also hosting solutions that come with malware scanning and removal services included, and not just for the site itself but also for your devices to keep them malware-free.
If you’re not sure how to choose a web hosting company, focusing on the business that can provide you with the most protection and peace of mind is usually a good bet.
It’s no secret that speed is crucial to online success. Whether you’re trying to increase sales on your e-commerce website or drive revenue from your blog, having pages that load quickly is crucial. The speed or “loading time” of your website will have a direct impact on user experience, as well as your conversion opportunities.
Customers just don’t stick around on a website if it takes too long to load. In fact, the majority will only wait around a couple of seconds before clicking the back button and looking for solutions elsewhere. To make matters worse, a slow-loading website can also harm your visibility online.
Google takes factors like mobile and web-based loading speeds into account when determining which sites should show up at the top of the search engine result pages. That means even if you do everything else right for your SEO rankings, like creating great content and using backlinks, you could still be penalized if your site doesn’t load quickly enough.
You can check a web host’s speed and server responsiveness by looking at the “TTFB” or “Time to First Byte” results they generate using tools like Webpagetest or Bitcatcha.
9. Backup and Restore Features
Have you ever spent hours working on an important project just to have your computer shut down unexpectedly before you had a chance to save it? If you have, you’ll know just how frustrating the experience can be. Now imagine that happening with your website.
Losing your website pages or content after you’ve spent days, weeks, or even months working on them can be absolutely catastrophic for a webmaster. That’s why it’s so important to ensure you look for backup and restore features when figuring out how to choose a web hosting service.
Most web hosting providers will back up your site regularly for free, so you don’t have to worry about losing any data. However, you might want to consider looking into additional backup apps and plugins, too, just in case. A good host should also be able to restore your full site (or most of it) with minimal downtime if you’re ever exposed to a hack, crash, or virus.
Always ask whether your hosting provider conducts regular full backups, whether they’ll allow you to manually back up your site, and how easy it is to restore your website after an outage.
10. The Cost
No one wants to spend more than necessary on their hosting services. In fact, affordability might be the first thing you prioritize when you’re figuring out how to select a web hosting company. The good news is that most web hosting services are relatively affordable, depending on what you need.
The majority of hosting providers will offer a range of different packages and services to suit specific needs and budgets. Browsing through your available options will give you a good idea of how much you can expect to pay.
Just remember, jumping on the cheapest offer you find straight away isn’t always the best strategy. An ultra-cheap package could mean you need to compromise on other factors like security, speed, or performance.
It’s also worth noting that the “renewal” price you pay for your website hosting can be very different from the cost you’ll pay initially. Many hosting providers will give you a deal for your first couple of months or years (such as $1.99 for shared hosting). However, when the time comes to renew your package, that price can increase significantly.
Make sure you know what you’re going to pay both now and in the long term.
Websites, just like people and businesses, grow over time. Just because you’re only planning on launching a simple blog now doesn’t mean you won’t want to expand and grow in the years to come. You may eventually decide you want to add a store to your site and start selling your own merchandise. You might want to make a video online and stream it alongside your blog content, or even upload and stream podcasts.
You may even find your website requires higher levels of bandwidth and storage as you continue to produce new articles and attract thousands of new followers. As your business grows, you should be able to upgrade your server and hosting package alongside it.
Always make sure the hosting provider you choose will allow you to scale your service according to your needs over time. You should be able to quickly change your package with just a couple of clicks without having to start again from scratch.
12. Customer Support
Last but not least, you’ll need to think about the kind of support you can expect to receive from your hosting provider. Excellent customer support ensures you can always get extra assistance and guidance from your hosting vendor when you need it most.
Although most of the time, you hopefully won’t need to use the customer service options offered by your hosting team; it’s good to know they’re there. Research your hosting provider’s support options. For instance, find out whether they offer phone, chat, and email support, as well as live chat.
It’s also worth putting the service to the test by sending your hosting team a message and tracking how quickly they respond. If you’re not sure how reliable the customer service is going to be, look at reviews and testimonials from other customers online. This should give you a reasonable insight.
How to Choose Web Hosting: It’s Easier than You’d Think
Figuring out how to select a web hosting company for your online business can seem like a challenging process. There are so many companies out there, all offering different deals and promising unique benefits. However, if you follow the steps above, you should be able to ensure you’re selecting a hosting solution that’s right for your needs.
Remember, if you’re not sure you’re making the right decision, you can always pay for a month of hosting (rather than an entire year) and consider switching to another provider if you’re not happy. Look for providers with more flexible contracts to give yourself plenty of freedom.
What are the 3 types of web hosting?
There are many different types of web hosting available today. However, the three most common options are shared hosting, dedicated hosting, and VPS hosting. Shared hosting is the most expensive, while dedicated hosting gives you the most freedom and flexibility.
Which web hosting is best for beginners?
The best web hosting solution for most beginners will usually be shared hosting. It’s the cheapest option from the majority of providers, and it offers plenty of functionality for growing sites. Just make sure you consider all of your options carefully.
What is the difference between web hosting and web server?
A web server is a computer used to run websites (although it’s not exactly the same as the computer you might be familiar with). A web hosting provider is a company that uses, manages, and delivers server functionality to customers.
What are the disadvantages of free web hosting?
Free web hosting might seem like a good idea at first, but it often comes with poor security, limited bandwidth, and a lack of customer support. Free web hosting may require you to host ads on your website or showcase another company’s brand. You may also be exposed to more outages.