There are many considerations when choosing a hosting provider. Included in this decision should be your familiarity and comfort with accessing your site. Whether you are going to do most or all of the work yourself, or you are going to hire a webmaster to manage your site, these are some of the basic considerations you must keep in mind.
Free or Paid
This is one of the first decisions you need to make. Do you want to pay for hosting and if so how much do you consider a good amount? Or should you go with a free option?
There are many advantages to free hosting. The biggest of course is cost. You don’t pay anything for free hosting. However sometimes there are limitations with free hosting.
For example, there is most likely a space limitation. Not so bad if you only plan on hosting a few pages for a site that doesn’t change much. But if plan on things like blogging, or social media integration, a free host may not be the best choice.
Many free hosts also offset the true cost of hosting “free” sites by forcing you to accept ads on your site pages. While some sites are ok with such a practice, one has to consider how this reflects on their site especially if your site is a business site. Do you want your business associated with the ads being displayed on your web pages?
Once you have determined if you need free or paid hosting, and how much you are willing to spend, the next consideration should be the type of hosting.
How Much Space & Bandwidth do You Get?
This will be the next most important question whether you go with a free or paid option. You need to decide if the space they are offering will do what you need to do.
Are you going to be writing articles and blogs? Are you going to be selling products online? Do you think your site will be heavily visited?
All these questions can affect your site. If Its free hosting with a limit on space and bandwidth, your site could go down early in the month because you have exceeded your bandwidth allotment.
Or if you are constantly adding new pages you can quickly exceed the amount of space you are allowed.
Even with some paid accounts the amount of space is limited, so be sure you research your options carefully.
What Technology Powers the Webhost?
There are basically 2 types of web hosts out there – Linux based servers and Windows based servers. And depending on the versions of these 2 operating systems, some things will work and some won’t.
Most web hosting providers prefer Linux servers because they are cheaper to set up and maintain. In fact most of the world’s web servers run Linux as their operating system. But that doesn’t necessarily mean that you should use such a server.
Perhaps your web designer (if you have already hired one) prefers to code in ASP? If this is the case then you might need to go the Windows server route, which generally costs more.
This is a question many people forget to ask. How fast is the connection into the host’s data center? And how fast are the servers hosting the sites?
Most hosts should have dedicated high speed connections in to the data center and have newer faster computers hosting the websites. If not you could run into problems with your site being properly displayed to site visitors.
What Other Features are Offered?
You should also look at what other features are offered. For example, some web hosts charge extra for hosting email addresses, while others include it.
Some hosts will not give you FTP (File Transfer Protocol) access to your site. That means you can not upload files using an external program. If this is the case you may have to upload your files via a web based program, which can be more time consuming and frustrating.
Some hosts include databases while others charge for them.
And then there’s the technology driving the servers. Some hosts keep their servers up-to-date with the latest software while others don’t. This can impact how your website works. For example, if you are planning on running a content management system such as WordPress, Joomla or Drupal, you generally need the latest versions of Apache, MySQL and PHP. However not all webhosts will provide these and therefore the CMS software may not work as it should.
This is always a big issue. Does your potential new web host provide support? If so, what type? Is it 24/7 support, or does their help desk take weekends off? Do they offer email or phone support?
In other words, if your site goes down on a Saturday afternoon, are you going to be able to get ahold of anyone to find out what happened?
Ask Lots of Questions
As you can see, there are many considerations for choosing a web host. While free hosting may seem ideal, there are generally limitations to what can and can’t be done.
Similarly, while cheap hosting may seem like a good deal, sometimes the limitations there are great as well.
Choosing the right hosting for your website is critical to your site’s success. Therefore you should not always go for the lowest price. Do some research to determine what you need to host your site, and then check the hosts to make sure they meet all your requirements.