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15 Important Factors To Consider Before Choosing A Web Hosting Service

Choosing a reliable hosting service is one of the very first and most important steps in your website development and marketing process. No matter how “maxim” it may sound, your website hosting is literally the foundation of your website online success.

Whether you’re looking to host your very first site or want to move an existing site to a new hosting provider, taking the time to think through each of the following items can help you feel confident that you have made the best decision that will meet your needs long into the future.

Physical Hardware

Physical hardware running your site being one of the most important considerations, take the time to research the server types of a hosting company is using. Is high-speed SSD storage included? Does it use redundant devices, such as RAID-configured hard drives? What is its response time when replacing failed hardware and are backups onsite?

Technical Support Team

No matter how good a host may be, it’s likely you’ll need to work with its support team at some point. Discover your comfort level when communicating with them upfront, as this may very well impact how quickly you arrive at issue resolution.

Response Times & Contact Options

Some web hosts require that you work through their ticketing system. Others have a phone-in option, use live web chat, or want you to reach them via email. So what is the best way to get in touch with them? Is the team available 24/7 or only during certain hours?

Reputation

In evaluating host contenders, reading reviews can help you make a more informed decision. HostReview is one of the resources you can use here—it’s a community of webmasters who share their experiences with different hosting providers to help find the most suitable option.

Hosting Features

Beyond providing you a server(s) where you can load your site contents, some hosts include many features, others make them available as add-ons, and still, others don’t offer any of them. These include:


  • Bandwidth: the amount of data transfer (in GigaBytes) that you can use per month. Your site visitors utilize bandwidth as-as the traffic moves from your server to the Internet and vice versa; each time an image located on your server is loaded in a browser, data is transferred, hence bandwidth – which basically means, the more users you expect, the higher the bandwidth you will need. As a very rough estimate, 5GB bandwidth should be enough for a medium-sized site with moderate traffic.
  • Disk Space: the amount of data you can store on your server. Today most (even quite cheap) hosting packages allow huge disk space. Most of my websites never occupy more than 1% of the available disk space. But you should know (to be able to estimate when needed) that if you are planning to build a simple website or blog, 3GB of available disk space would be obviously a lot more than enough (mind that a dynamic site (forum or blog) will need a lot of space for the database expansion).
  • Operating system: two standard web hosting operating systems are Linux and Windows. Linux is the traditional choice with most providers as it is significantly cheaper and is compatible with plenty of Open Source applications and most scripts you may need (unless you plan to use any Windows applications).
  • Control Panel: All hosting services provide some sort of a control panel where you will be able to add your domains and configure settings. Cpanel is the most common control panel found on any hosting service.
  • IP Address: IP address is basically the unique number which identifies the location of your server on the Internet. Like we have mentioned above, if you are on a shared or virtual private server, your site should be sharing an IP address with a number of other websites. If you are on the dedicated server, you have a unique IP address.
  • Server Location: tightly related to the above one, this one is important to mention for a number of reasons. For us, the most important reason is that Google considers the server “physical” location when ranking a website in both local and general search (for location-specific searches). So if you are creating a website for your local business and expect people to search it by location, find the hosting provider nearby.
  • Server Uptime: Uptime refers to the percentage of time your server (and website) should be “up” and running. Uptime is an important SEO-relevant metric. Apart from obvious damage to your website performance, frequent crashes often negatively affect SEO. Google won’t rank your website high if it is often unavailable or down (see tip #2 in the list of the ways of increasing Google crawl rate). Most web hosting providers “guarantee” min 99.9% uptime (but it is recommended to do your research and check for real people’s reviews before jumping to any conclusions).
  • (Free) Site Builder: Just don’t use them. period (hence the absence / presence of one should NOT be a criterion). You don’t need any (especially with various easy-to-install and easy-to-use website platforms like WordPress. Many built-in Site Builders are not SEO-friendly and limit flexibility; besides many of them are proprietary which means you won’t be able to painlessly move your site to another provider.
  • Customer Support and Feedback: Every hosting provider (like any person or service) may fail at times but the availability of the customer service and the rate at which they solve issues and – that’s what defines a good service provider.
  • The number of accounts per server: If shared server, it is advisable to know the number of sites with which you share the server. As if there are many sites on a server, the greater the chances of your site to load more slowly. Compare the number of accounts on a server with the number of accounts used by other hosting companies to have a starting point to negotiate. For full access to server, resources would better be up to 100 accounts per server.


Acquaint yourself with each host’s feature list in determining those that best match your specific needs.

Price of Hosting

Web host pricing is nowhere near uniform. Only by taking the time to comparatively shop will you finding a company that offers high quality hosting at a reasonable price. Determine accepted payment methods and look for discounts if you’re able to pay for service a year in advance.

Control Panel

A control panel or portal is the interface you’ll use to manage your website once it’s live. Here you can do such tasks as performing a manual backup, reset your server (if allowed), or configure additional domains. Two of most popular control panel options are cPanel and Plesk. Choosing a host that offers one of these helps make site maintenance easier.

Usability

As well as features like bandwidth and storage, you should look at the usability of the service. This will affect you if you are new to hosting and don’t have much coding or technical knowledge, or if you’d like more freedom to customize your website and hosting options.

The first usability feature to look for is whether the hosting provider has cPanel, Plesk, ispCP or ISPConfig. These programs allow you to set up and customize your website and hosting if you’re unfamiliar with the FTP (file transfer protocol) and is a must if you’re new to website hosting. Equally, if you plan to upload files from your computer to the website, such as header images and logos, you will need to ensure the hosting site provides FTP access.

Datacenter Geolocation

Having your site hosted at a datacenter that is geographically close to your target audience helps maximize site load speed experienced by your visitors.Having said that, organizations catering to a global audience should disregard this and consider using a content delivery network instead (see below), as it will replicate their website in multiple geolocations to improve performance.

Content Delivery Network

If your site is likely to have high bandwidth requirements, serve large files, or have other significant demands, you’ll want a content delivery network (CDN) to serve up at least a portion of your content. A CDN enables your site to quickly and efficiently serve a very high number of customers—performance that isn’t always possible using traditional hosting options. The host should also make CDN integration easy for you.

Email Features

This is one of those areas where you might not have considered asking your host for help. If you have a spam problem, then it may be because your hosting company doesn’t provide an adequate solution to stop it. Look into or ask about your provider’s spam solutions and general email practices. No matter what they say, email isn’t dead quite yet.

Upgrade Options

When you start a new website/blog, it is highly recommended to purchase a shared web hosting plan. This way you can save a lot of money on hosting bill during the time you grow you website/blog. Shared hosting is Web hosting in which the service provider serves multiple Web sites, each having its own Internet domain name, from a single WebServer. Most Web hosting companies provide the shared hosting plan nowadays.

As a rough estimate, the shared web hosting account is sufficient to support a properly optimized WordPress website with 5,000 to 100,000 unique visitors. However, if you are expecting your website to grow into a real big in next two or three years then it’s worth considering – what are the upgrade options web host provide you at the time of purchase. You may like to migrate from shared web hosting account to VPS or dedicated server for more disk storage, memory capacity and processing power with added security features. So, it’s very important to inquire about these upgrades options at the time of setting up web host account.

Security

In addition to other threats, distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks is a frequent cyber attack form, with millions of sites being hit every day at a rate of tens, or even hundreds of gigs per second. Protection is a critical component for any website. Most web hosts offer basic security/firewall and DDoS protection, but the most effective threat mitigation available today involves routing all of your site traffic through a service that scrubs out nefarious traffic before it has an opportunity to wreak havoc with your content.

Scalability

In starting a new website, perhaps you only need a simple, shared hosting account. But once it becomes a success, your hosting needs will likely grow commensurately. In looking ahead, then, you may want to use a hosting company that provides such expansion options as virtual private servers (VPSs), dedicated servers, cloud hosting, and more.

Refund Policy

These days all web host companies have a refund policy or trial period and during which you can try the hosting services and decide whether you would like to continue or not. Remember that, if you forget to cancel your account before the last day of your trial period then you will be charged for the whole trial period. If you have this question in mind then it’s worth asking beforehand. Some companies do not require credit card information during the trial period and later when you decide to continue with then you will need to upgrade to your chosen plan after the end of trial period.

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