There are many things that must be done to launch a successful website. This includes implementing effective web design, search engine optimization and more. However, if you invest in the wrong web host, all of this can be for naught. Unfortunately, knowing how to choose a web host doesn’t come naturally to everyone. With that in mind, below are five factors to give serious consideration when choosing a hosting company.
1. Bandwidth and Disk Space
One of the first things you should consider is the technical aspect of the hosting space you will be purchasing. If the website you have envisioned has certain requirements, you must try to find a hosting plan that meets those needs. This should include both bandwidth and disk space.
Bandwidth refers to the volume of information that can be transmitted between computers at a given time. In the context of hosting, you will probably be given a specific bandwidth limit for your website. This determines how many people can use your website and how often. If this limit is exceeded, your website could go offline.
Similarly, the amount of disk space offered by a host is important as well. This space refers to the total size of files in megabytes, gigabytes, etc. that you are allowed to store at any given time on the hosting company’s servers. Before choosing a hosting plan, you need to account for how large your website will be in regards to files at the onset, as well as how large it may expand to. Thankfully, many companies now offer unlimited disk space for a single website.
Second, you should certainly consider the cost of purchasing a hosting plan. Make sure to create a budget for your website’s hosting services and then attempt to spend less than that number. Most hosting plans are purchased on a yearly or monthly basis. Choose the payment method that is best for you. Paying a hosting bill once a year may be the easiest option for many. Alternatively, you can lessen the impact of a once a year investment by spreading it out over 12 months.
You should also keep in mind that the cheapest hosting option isn’t necessarily the best. While it is true that there are hosting packages out there for as little as $2 a month, most of those are completely no frills and will not supply you with what you need to launch a successful website. You may also be able to save money as a new customer. However, keep in mind that the amount charged for the second year will likely be more. Find out what the renewal price will be upfront.
3. Backup Services
Another factor you should consider is the backup services or lack of backup services provided by a hosting company. Having a website’s data backed up is very important. There are many things that can go wrong. Your website could be defaced by hackers. Alternatively, you may make a mistake when using an FTP program and accidentally erase important files.
Whatever the case, you need to insure that you have the ability to restore your website’s files and databases if something goes wrong. Unfortunately, most web hosts only offer limited backup services, and those sometimes require additional investment. If you have to, you can perform your own backups. Backing up files will generally take more time than databases. Doing so on a regular basis can give you direct access to the means to restore your website without having to rely on the host.
4. Additional Features and Add-Ons
Beyond the basics, a quality web host should offer extra features that make using that host convenient. Often, the user control panel will include one-click installation options for software that can be installed onto a website. This can include software to run things like blogs, digital shopping carts, image galleries, message boards and more. Having access to this software for free can save money and time. Having the control panel perform the installation for you can also save you from making mistakes when trying to install it yourself.
A web host may also offer add-on domains. Add-on domains are different than sub-domains that are subordinate to existing domains. They are independent domains that can have their own files, databases, emails and more but share the same server space. Implementing add-on domains can mean having the ability to manage multiple domains from the same user control panel. If you want to run multiple domains simultaneously, you certainly need to choose a host that supports add-on domains.
5. Support Services
Lastly, you need to factor in the support services a web host offers to its customers. Not all hosts are the same in this regard. Some offer 24-hour toll-free telephone support to customers with hosting plans. Others offer 24-hour tech support but may do so through a chat client on the website as opposed to a telephone number. Others still may use a support ticket system only. This would mean having to alert the host of an issue via an online ticket submitted through their website. You would then have to wait for a response. This could take minutes, hours or days depending on that site’s technical support staff.
With that in mind, you need to consider support options in regards to the kind of service you expect. If you want to run an e-commerce website, for example, being down for an extended period of time can mean losing a lot of revenue. In that case, it may be a better idea to option for a hosting company that does offer 24-hour support through either a phone number or a chat program.
Overall, not all hosting packages are equal. You need to keep this in mind when deciding how to choose a web host. Make sure to not make a snap decision. Instead, look at multiple companies and weigh the above factors plus anything else important to you to choose the best plan for you and your website.