When you’re launching a new website, one of the most important considerations is the hosting provider you will use.
But if you don’t speak ‘techie’, the process can be confusing. There are so many different providers, and so many different types of plans, that you may not know what is best.
Many business owners, without understanding what they’re doing, just sign up for the best deal – never a great idea.
Because the last thing you want is performance issues with your brand-new website, choosing the right hosting provider requires a lot of time and thought. If you’re not sure where to start, this guide can serve as a great jumping off point.
Keep reading to find out exactly what web hosting is, why you need it, and how to choose the right hosting provider for your business.
What is web hosting and why do you need it?
Web hosting is the process of providing the storage space and technologies necessary for a website to be accessed via the internet. All of the software, files, data, images need to live on a special computer (called a server).
Some larger corporations own and operate their own servers, but most small businesses rent space on someone else’s machines. Those servers are operated and maintained by companies referred to as a ‘hosting provider’.
Ultimately, no one can visit your website or view your content if you don’t have a hosting provider. Even more importantly, your website’s performance can be greatly affected by the type of web hosting sign up for – this is why choosing the right provider is imperative for your online success.
Hosted Services and Self-hosted Apps
As you’re shopping around for hosting, it’s easy to confuse hosted software services and “self-hosted” applications. So it’s best to clear up the benefits and drawbacks between these two types of service. A good way to highlight the difference is to consider WordPress.org and WordPress.com. The latter is a hosted service, which means you pay to use the WordPress platform itself hosted on a third-party system. This means you can easily start using WordPress without having to work with any hosting software. If you go with self-hosting, you have a general purpose suite of software you can customize as needed; for the self-hosted environment, you could decide to download the WordPress core files from WordPress.org and install them yourself.
How do you choose the right hosting plan?
In reality, there is no ‘best’ hosting plan or web hosting service. There is only the one that is best for you. The key to determining which plan is appropriate lies in knowing your own business and understanding your website’s requirements.
Here are some questions to ask yourself:
How much space do I need?
As of 2019, the average page size on a website was 2MB. That was double was it was just three years prior, and that number is expected to keep going up. Why? Because the quality and size of photos and videos that we use keeps growing. Keep that in mind when determining the amount of data your website will require – and remember to allow room for growth.
What will my website run on?
Most websites use a content management system like WordPress, Joomla, or Drupal – web applications used for the creation and maintenance of your site. Some hosting companies will provide access and support for a specific content management system. Make sure the host you sign up with offers what you need.
Do I require a high level of customization?
As a general rule, the cheaper a hosting plan is, the less control you have over how it’s formatted. If you require specialized software, custom apps, or you want to use a particular OS, you may need a more comprehensive plan.
Will I be collecting sensitive information?
If you plan on collecting customer information, such as name, address, phone number, or credit card number, from clients, it’s essential to keep your site as secure as possible. Look for a plan that includes an SSL certificate for maximum protection.
Do I expect a lot of traffic?
The more traffic your website receives, the more bandwidth it will require to keep it running smoothly. In fact, every single time your website is viewed, it adds to the amount of bandwidth you need. To determine the amount of bandwidth you require, it’s necessary to estimate the average number of visitors you anticipate each month. Since this number can change quickly, it’s important to choose a hosting plan that can easily scale on demand.
How fast do I need it to be?
Typically, the faster your website loads, the better. In fact, web users today likely won’t even hang around if your site takes more than three seconds to load. That means that if you have a lot of traffic or tons of custom features which might slow your site down, it’s essential to make sure your hosting company can provide the resources you need to keep things moving quickly.
Do I need a domain name?
Aside from web hosting, choosing a domain name is the other ‘must’ before you can get your website up and running. While it’s not technically part of web hosting, many hosting providers will help you acquire a name – or even include one as part of their package.
How to Choose a Hosting Provider
Once you understand your business website and its requirements, it’s much easier to choose a web hosting service that actually suits your needs.
First, know what kind of hosting you require:
- Shared Hosting: By far the most economical option, shared hosting houses several different websites on one physical server and resources are shared between them. This is a great option for someone with a fairly low-traffic or static website.
- VPS Hosting: The next step up is VPS, which offers a guaranteed allotment of resources within a shared environment. It is still quite affordable and offers more customization options and greater stability.
- Dedicated server: An entire physical machine is dedicated exclusively to your business and its website (or websites). All of the resources are yours and no one else can use them. The server is highly customizable, very secure and performance is rarely an issue. This option is great for high-traffic websites or those that are constantly adding new content.
And make sure the plan you choose offers:
- Enough bandwidth for the maximum number of visitors you might expect – plus room to grow.
- Enough storage space for all of your files including text, images, video, custom apps, and so on.
- A plan that is compatible or even specifically optimized for your CMS.
- A plan that offers an easy-to-use website builder (if you need it).
- Most importantly – a plan that is reliable so you know that your website will always be accessible to guests and visitors.
InMotion Hosting offers a variety of hosting plans available at different price points – each one designed to help your website thrive and grow. Reach out today to learn more about how we can help you.