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Website Hosting: What You Need to Know Before Selecting a Hosting Service Provider

by | Oct 29, 2020 | Web Design

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Selecting a great hosting company for your website could turn out to be an uphill task. Long gone are the days when you had to consider only total disk storage and bandwidth when it came to deciding on the right web hosting service. Now it is necessary to adopt a comprehensive analysis of the hosting service provider as well as all the available perks that the company brings to its marketing mix.

At the same time, you should also note that each individual hosting service provider is differently suited to host specific types of websites. For example, if your site is all about podcasts it would mean that speed would be the most important criteria.

A slow and unreliable website hosting service provider will lead to unexpected breaks in transmission services. Ultimately, your listeners will become frustrated and simply leave the site in search of a more pleasant listening experience.

It is important that your web host should provide you with seamless service during transmissions in real-time. These type of sites carry a heavy multimedia load, especially when they feature live video and audio streams.  They require dedicated and specialized hosting providers because they have the bandwidth to provide a flawless multimedia experience.

It’s  important that you choose the right website hosting to ensure that there is no lag, buffering, or breakages in your service.

Understand Your Own Requirements

Before you decide to settle on a website hosting company, you have to understand precisely what you require from your service provider. And for this, you will have to figure out your very own personal needs, goals, and requirements.  You will have to answer the following questions:

  • What is your total weekly, monthly, or annual budget?
  • Do you want the freedom and flexibility of having near unlimited bandwidth for all your web content?
  • Will you be willing or able to pay for it?
  • Are you interested in trying to sell products/services on your site (creating a web store for example)?
  • Do you really want to manage all of your website hosting issues through the same company?
  • If unsatisfied, will you be willing to change hosting services?
  • Once you make the decision to change your service provider, what will you be looking for in the new company you choose?

These questions hold particularly true for people who are new to the online hosting game and don’t know much about what hosting service will best fit their needs. Selecting the wrong service might prove to be a really expensive mistake.

It may result in unnecessary spending on hosting features that you don’t need for your day to day operations.  Apart from this, you can actually lose your onsite visitors due to the lack of uptime, every time the site crashes under its own weight, if you choose a sub-standard website hosting company.

The packages offered by commercial hosting service providers are driven purely by the demands of their clientele. If your site is rich in multimedia content and you are using a service provider that has low bandwidth you will be in trouble.  Budget hosting services such as HostGator, BlueHost, and GoDaddy are very inexpensive, but they cater only to plain HTML and text file related sites, or sites that don’t get a lot of traffic. In fact, they rely on this because they are generally putting hundreds, if not thousands, of websites on the same server. This is called shared hosting and activity on other sites on your server can actually end up affecting the performance of your own site.

There are actually several different types of hosting available out there: shared, virtual private, dedicated, etc. and you should know your options before deciding on what’s right for your particular situation.

Let us check out the various factors that you must consider before selecting your ideal web hosting company for your business:

The Price of Different Hosting Plans

Operational costs are very important, and this is why the price of the hosting plan should be taken into consideration. But at the same time, it should never be the whole and sole deciding factor.

Sure, you can even get a free hosting service for your site, but would it be able to provide the required bandwidth or security features? After all, free hosting services rarely have dedicated 24/7 support systems. They usually rely on pop-up banners and other forms of advertising to generate revenues. This means that your site will become a background for someone else’s adverts.

However, you can get rid of all of these issues by opting for a more expensive hosting service.

Low-cost or free hosting may not be all you expected when it comes to hosting a business website. Choose your host wisely.

Technical Support

Friendly, informed, and dedicated customer care executives are a vitally important factor, that you have to take into consideration whenever you make a decision. Even fast sites crash, and you might lose your visitors, your files and other important data. If it happens at midnight and the service offers only 9 to 5 working hours, you will be in deep trouble.

You will have to find out beforehand if the service provider offers ticket and email systems, live chats or 24-hour phone support for their hosting plan. This becomes even more important if your host is from a separate time zone. In such a case, it is possible that your working hours may be completely different from your web hosting company. Good luck with getting someone on the phone on the other end of the world!

Finally, you have to make sure that your hosting plan comes with a maximum 24-hour service time frame. If it takes the company longer to respond, it is time to look around for another hosting service.

Check Out Client Reviews

Web hosting service reviews are an excellent information resource. Since these reviews are written by other clients and customers they are more reliable than the advertisement claims of the service provider.

In fact, many web hosting providers have a section dedicated to customer reviews. Apart from that, you can also check out the social media pages of the company. If the page seems to be heavily edited, it is a dead giveaway that they are deleting negative reviews. Alternately, if they share negative reviews and respond to them on their social media pages and their responses are clearly visible, you might give them a try.

Area of Focus

Every web hosting company has its own area of specialization. For instance, your current hosting service might be perfect for a small business, but it might not have the bandwidth necessary to keep up with your growth.  On the other hand, going for a host that offers enterprise-level solutions would be overkill if you are just sharing your grandmama’s recipes online.

You should always look into the hosting company’s area of expertise or specialty before you make the decision to opt for their services. You should talk to them and see if they can create a bespoke plan suitable for your specific needs. You should also check for their main strengths and weaknesses before you make any long term commitments.

Analyze Your Own Limitations

Take a step back and see where you are and what you want to do. If you want to host a simple blog and share your opinion on the second world war, you won’t need an expensive service provider.  On the other hand, if you want to create your very own web TV, you will need a company that can provide massive bandwidth with uninterrupted services 24/7.

A free hosting plan will never give you the processing power, RAM, and disk space to serve your streaming needs. Moreover, the popularity of the site will lead to multiple people accessing it at all hours of the day and night.

If your host won’t have the capability of catering to this many visitors, the whole site will crash, and you will lose your target audience to your competition. You will also have to spend more time on the company’s helpline dealing with slow loading issues and endless downtime.

Value-Added Features

Today’s hosting companies offer a lot more than just a server for your site. You should ask them about all the little extras touches that allow them to stand out from the rest of the hosting companies out there.

These include access to multiple data centers, free domain privacy, and regular data backups so that your site’s data is always safe and secure. If the company offers something that you want free of cost, you might consider a long term relationship with that service provider.

Before making a commitment, you should look around and see which service is giving you the best bang for your buck. Some of the less expensive service providers now offer surprisingly good services.  You should ask them if they will charge you for additional domains or if they are included free of cost.

You should also ask them detailed questions about the other sites they are hosting to get an idea about the kind of services they provide.

 Hardware Options

The hosting business requires regular hardware upgrades, or the equipment becomes obsolete. If they are using old machines and servers you will have to face the brunt of all of their equipment failures. Most companies advertise their state-of-the-art servers and other machinery. If they are not advertising their equipment, maybe they don’t have anything to advertise.

You should ask them directly and if they don’t give a straight answer, or if their equipment is really dated, it is time to look for other options.

Scalability Issues

The hosting company you choose should allow room for growth.  A highly scalable company will be able to handle all of your future growth plans.  In short, you have to consider a company that would comfortably handle large volumes of traffic three years into the future.

When starting off, even small scale service providers can handle the odd couple of hundred hits per day. But it might not be able to handle the rush if the numbers increase into the millions on a daily basis.

This is why, it is imperative that they should be able to upgrade your account whenever you want. Your host should have multiple offers and plans on hand so that your visitors won’t have to suffer from longer lag times.

Always remember that transferring from one host to another usually takes up valuable time and effort, while your site remains offline. All of this can be safely avoided, if the hosting company can scale its solutions with an eye on the future.

Account Limitations

Every hosting service provider has its very own set of terms and conditions. The violations of these terms of engagement can result in extra charges, temporary or even permanent discontinuation of your hosting account.

For instance, some providers prohibit the use of computationally intensive scripts on their servers. Such an action might mean that you will be charged extra. In case of nonpayment of the extra charges, your website might be pulled down indefinitely.  Web hosts also have limitations regarding uploads and downloads. If you exceed those limits, you will have to pay a penalty, or they will remove you from their service roster, without a refund.

It is important that you take the time to go through all of these terms and conditions and only sign on the dotted line once you agree to each and every one. Most importantly, you should avoid companies that have no clear terms of engagement. This holds particularly true if the company states that all such decisions are at the sole discretion of the service provider.

Consider Your Web Design Agency for Hosting

Many web designer agencies now offer hosting services to their clients. Generally they are going to put you on better servers or with better companies for your website and often their hosting services are combined with their monthly website maintenance services. For instance, we provide website hosting services to our clients and they are put on a Virtual Private Server (VPS), which stands heads-and-tails above a shared server. And, we don’t charge a whole lot more than what you would pay for a quality shared server either. We also don’t stuff hundreds or thousands of websites on a server. Our servers only contain dozens of our clients on each one, so that they continue to run lean and clean, giving our clients the best possible website hosting experience they could hope for. If you are having your website designed or redesigned by a website design firm, don’t even consider purchasing hosting until you talk to them and find out whether they offer website hosting services or not.

Conclusion

The above tips can help you to find the best hosting service provider. Ultimately, you will have to pick and choose one, based on your own specific business needs.  You can of course, always change your host if it fails to meet your expectations and find a new and better one, to keep your site up and running at all times.

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Editorial Staff (Team 2)

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