Choosing a hosting plan is similar to choosing a suit, because in both cases you should focus on your current needs and future plans at the same time. Today there are many companies that offer dirt-cheap hosting plans, but these usually come with various hidden costs. The least expensive plans might not fit your bandwidth needs, which means that your website’s visitors will face poor UX and slow loading. On the other hand, if you choose an expensive ‘designer label’ package you will probably throw away money for features you don’t need.
Determining your needs
Determining your website’s current and future needs is essential for choosing the right hosting plan. Hosting requirements vary depending on the website’s purpose and on the estimated amount of its future traffic. Starting your website on a free hosting platform, makes future transfer very difficult, which is why you should choose hosting plans that can support your future growth. These are the questions you should answer before you make your mind:
- What kind of website are you trying to build? (You can choose between e-commerce, blog, business website, directory, portfolio etc.)
- Which CMS are you planning to use? (There are many popular CMS solutions, including: WordPress, Drupal, Magneto etc.)
- Will your website need some special software? (I might include: PHP, various Windows apps etc.)
- How big your website traffic is going to be? (You should give an honest estimate)
Three types of hosting plans
Most providers offer three major types of hosting plans. These include:
- Shared server hosting– This is the most affordable solution, where several websites share one server. It comes with several downsides, and one of them is that you can receive malware or spam from other website’s server space. Also if malware finds a way into your server share, you will need to deal with it immediately, otherwise hosting company will block your website.
- Virtual server hosting– This type of hosting is recommended for small businesses, including e-commerce websites and popular company blogs that have several thousand visitors per day.
- Dedicated server hosting– It stands for renting an entire physical server for your website’s needs. This expensive type of hosting is usually acquired by big corporate websites.
Hosting features you should look for
Accept choosing the right type of hosting plan, you also need to choose a reliable provider, who provides 24/7 support, powerful server and stable network connections. Uptime score is also very important. You should pick hosts that scored above 99,5%, with 99% being the lowest acceptable score. You can find scores of different hosting providers on review websites like: Pcmag.com, Hostingfacts.com, or Whoishostingthis.com.
Some other features providers should offer include:
- Server upgrading options– If you plan to choose a shared hosting plan, server upgrading options will allow you to increase your website’s server space later.
- Multiple addon domains– This feature allows you to run several independent domains from one hosting account.
- E-commerce features– Online stores made with e-commerce platforms like Magneto come with many specialized features. Many companies that are specialized in Magento hosting provide support for these features, including: dedicated IP, SSL certification and one-click shopping cart installation.
- 24/7 support– Hosting companies need to provide 24/7 support for their clients. Live chat sessions are the best channel to get in touch with your hosting support, but you can also use phone, e mail or Twitter.
- Backup– Hosting provider should provide fully automatic backup of all websites that are hosted on their servers.
- Webmail– Most hosting plans come with webmail feature that allows you to create customized e mail addresses that contain your domain name.
Web hosting is a very dynamic niche and therefore prices of hosting plans vary significantly depending on the clientele, time of the year and various other factors. Because of this, you should always shop around and inspect all possible solutions before choosing the appropriate hosting plan. Some hosting providers attract customers with low signup prices, but they also have much higher renewal costs. In recent years this have become an industry norm because transferring website from one hosting server to another is a huge drag for inexperienced webmasters.
Same as clothing retailers, hosting providers will allow you to try out their plans before you make your choice. Most hosting plans come with trial periods and you should take advantage of this and all other benefits that are on the offer. Choosing a hosting plan that perfectly fits your business or personal needs is first step towards an advance web presence that can boost your business performance and earn acclaim and approval for your creative work.