- 1) Know the needs of your website:
- 2) Subscription period:
- 3) Reliability and server uptime:
- 4) Refund policy and guarantees:
- 5) Update options:
- 6) Primary features:
- 7) Additional products and services:
- 8) Functionality of the e-commerce site:
- 9) Registration and renewal prices:
- 10) Control Panel:
- 11) Account Limitations:
- 12) Environmental compatibility:
- 13) Email hosting:
- 14) Website backup options:
- 15) Support:
- 16) Server responsiveness:
Web hosting is a key part of any website. Choosing the right web hosting company and plan for your site may require careful consideration. Not all hosts are the same, and you need to make sure you get all the features you need.
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Once you understand exactly what you are looking for, you will be in a perfect position to get your new website off to a good start. In this article, we’ll take a closer look at 16 essential criteria you can use to choose the best web hosting service for your site:
1) Know the needs of your website:
To start, it is a good idea to sit and make a list of your needs. So you can give priority more quickly if you compare your list with what every potential host offers.
For example, if your website has a specific niche, you want to take it into account. If you are building a photographic website, you may have to prioritize the speed and storage functions. In addition, some hosts also offer CDN options for the content delivery network (CDN) for sites with heavy content sites. On the other hand, e-commerce sites may want to focus on bandwidth and security. Some web hostings also offer specific e-commerce plans. Also, don’t forget to consider what kind (and how much) support you need. Last but not least, think about the content management system you want to use for your site.
2) Subscription period:
Many web hosting companies offer a flexible set of options when it comes to contract length. You’ll likely find monthly and yearly plans, as well as discounted rates for multi-year contracts.
This means you want to think ahead about how much time you are willing to commit. It is often smart to try out a new host for a few months to gain experience with it. On the other hand, if you are confident enough to register in the longer term, you can save a lot of money.
In addition to the duration of the contract, it is also a good idea to recheck the conditions of a plan before registering for this. Some web hostings also allow you to move in a fluid way between contract periods and plans but be sure to ask yourself questions about the relevant costs and /or penalties.
3) Reliability and server uptime:
Another essential service you’ll want to investigate is what your potential host offers in terms of uptime guarantees. This affects the reliability you can expect from the hosting service.
“Uptime” refers to the percentage of time your website is online and available to Internet users without any problems. Obviously, you need to want your site to be up and running as much as possible, and your host needs to guarantee something close to 100% uptime.
Of course, not all web hosting providers define uptime in exactly the same way. Therefore, you should carefully review your potential hosting company’s policies to see what it actually guarantees. If there are a lot of bottlenecks that slow down your website, but it’s still technically available, your host may consider that “uptime” even if you don’t.
You may also want to know how the host handles any downtime. Of course, if your site is down frequently, this isn’t optimal when you’re trying to build an online following. To know what you’re getting into, it’s a good idea to look for reviews that indicate how reliable the host has been in the past.
4) Refund policy and guarantees:
You never know what can happen once you start building your website. That said, it’s a good idea to thoroughly review your potential web host’s refund policy. If you are dissatisfied with your host or change your mind about the site, you need to have options.
In addition to making sure you can cancel your subscription and get a refund, it’s smart to understand what the host guarantees and doesn’t take any responsibility for. This may involve examining the uptime guarantee (as discussed above) along with the terms of service. You can also see if there is a real-time status page that you can view.
Whether you decide you don’t like your new host or suddenly find yourself no longer needing a website, getting a refund is key. Finally, make sure you know in advance what the repayment deadline will be. Knowing how much time you have will help you get ready with your new provider.
5) Update options:
“Reading the fine print” is a smart move when signing a contract. This is doubly true for online services. Before signing up for a hosting plan, it’s important to make sure you’re not penalized for the next upgrade.
Sometimes your new blog or podcast can go viral and you need to scale quickly to provide your site with additional resources and space. That’s a good thing! However, you need to make sure your hosting plan can grow with you, rather than hold you back.
6) Primary features:
We have said before that there are many different types of hosting. If you have already determined what you need from your web host, it is better to navigate this specific step. Some hosts offer very general services, while others can offer specific functions that can make your life a lot easier.
If you explore the host’s website, you should be able to determine fairly quickly whether what you need is part of their offer. If you have to research this information, the host may not really focus on the features that meet your main needs.
Reading reviews is another great way to determine if a particular web host offers what your site needs. Customers are generally very honest when it comes to online reviews, so you can look for reviews that address the features that make the biggest difference to you.
7) Additional products and services:
Once your website is up and running, you may come across situations where you want to add new features. With that in mind, it’s worth finding out what “extras” your host offers at this point.
If you’re starting small and want to work your way up as your site grows, you need to make sure you can efficiently bring in new features without having to jump through hoops or move your entire site. The ability to choose features “a la carte” means you can design a plan that has everything you need (and nothing you don’t).
This wish list can include items like an SSL certificate or custom email addresses, which we’ll detail later. You can also add disk space and other resources without changing your basic plan. Either way, if you figure out what’s possible in advance, you can avoid unpleasant surprises in the future.
8) Functionality of the e-commerce site:
If you’re building an e-commerce website, it’s vital to make sure your chosen web host has everything needed to run an online store. This can include built-in e-commerce tools, one-click installs of useful applications, and even additional security measures for online transactions.
For example, if your host doesn’t offer Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) certificates, you’ll need to purchase one that meets the standards of the payment gateways you want to use. Also, if you’re not sure how to set up your storefront, you can look for hosts that offer website builders or other features that will benefit your e-commerce project.
9) Registration and renewal prices:
When you sign up for a hosting package, you often get discounts depending on whether you pay monthly or annually. Sometimes you even have the option to pay multiple years at a time to get a bigger discount.
Many hosts also offer a renewal discount. With this in mind, you should be vigilant to know the terms before agreeing to any plan. You don’t want to run into an unexpected price increase when you least expect it. It’s not uncommon for initial discounts to slowly give way to higher costs after the first few months or years of service.
On the plus side, if you’re a nonprofit, it’s worth noting that some hosts offer discounts tailored to your needs. This can mean significant savings for any 501(c)3 registered organization that needs to develop a web presence to fulfil its mission.
10) Control Panel:
Hosting can sometimes be the most technical part of running your website. However, there is no reason to feel intimidated. Most web hosts provide an easy-to-use control panel or dashboard. Here you can configure different parts of your website setup and software.
11) Account Limitations:
Especially if you create a brand new website, you may not know which level of trafficking meetings. For this reason, we recommend that you carefully investigate whether your potential hosting service will fix or not limit your account.
This means that you must have a basic knowledge of the bandwidth. This is the term used to include the amount of data and traffic by the server. For example, if you have inserted many videos on your server, you may be able to eat a lot of bandwidth, because several visitors consider them at the same time. Even when you come across a host that offers unlimited traffic, you should still research their policies. Remember the fine print we mentioned earlier? Sometimes “unlimited” plans still have some restrictions that you should be aware of.
12) Environmental compatibility:
You might be wondering how “green” applies to a web hosting company. But companies that offer a virtual product or service must also think about this element.
Some companies only work in remote offices to reduce their footprint, while others buy energy-efficient equipment and eco-friendly consumables. Regardless of the specifics, you should be able to examine what your host is doing to mitigate their impact.
13) Email hosting:
You may be used to having your personal email handled efficiently by Google or another service. For this reason, email is often an afterthought when it comes to your business and your website.
However, if you want your email to match your company’s branding and website name, you will also need a host for this service. Sometimes a limited-use email address is included with your hosting plan. However, exploring your email hosting options is highly recommended, especially if you plan to use email marketing to reach your audience. There are pros and cons to combining your email host and web host. Unless your host has provisions to protect one or the other, you may be faced with an “if one goes out, all goes out” scenario. This means that if your web host crashes, it will take your email as well.
On the other hand, keeping both services in the same place can make your life easier, and a reliable host should be able to avoid these kinds of problems.
14) Website backup options:
It’s also a good idea to see what your landlord has to offer in this area. Depending on the type of hosting you purchase, you may have access to your website’s daily backups. This is especially helpful if your website gets hacked or a file gets corrupted. In fact, it’s not a bad idea to have multiple backup solutions.
When evaluating the backup services offered by a web hosting provider, look for information on how long your backups are stored and how often they are created. Also, make sure you understand how to access your backups when you need them. If your website gets hacked, it is extremely beneficial if your host offers an easy-to-use recovery service.
In addition to site backup and recovery services, the value of reliable technical support is worth emphasizing. If you have in-house programmers and technical staff, you may not need this level of service.
If not, however, the full support of your hosting service can be invaluable. Many small businesses don’t have the resources or know-how to deal with unexpected problems, attacks, and so on.
So it is vital that you check the customer support options offered by each web hosting provider. These can often differ between individual plans. Lower plans tend to be “hands-off” when it comes to support, while managed plans and more expensive options often offer premium support.
16) Server responsiveness:
Now that you’ve tested your chosen host and gone through all of the previous points, there’s another important thing to consider. Instead of taking complaints and criticisms at face value, you can test the web host’s responsiveness yourself. It’s a bit easier to test server response on a site that’s already up and running.
Alternatively, you can use the information available through Google’s PageSpeed Insights tools. If you know of a website hosted by the company you’re interested in, you can also enter that URL into Pingdom’s tool. If possible, you may also want to log into a trial account or sign up for a free trial and use it to run further tests.
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