With so many technical features to choose from, it can be a daunting experience to try to find the right host for your website. The type of website hosting that you choose depends a lot on your individual needs. A dedicated server is a great option for people who need to manage complex applications and control every aspect of their server, but it would be a complete nightmare for someone who just wants to run a simple blog or informational website.
Consider the following points before you begin your search for the perfect hosting provider:
- Determine the type of website you want to build, if it’s an eCommerce site or one that takes memberships you’ll need to have an SSL Certificate.
- What platform will you use to host your content? If you’re using WordPress or Joomla, you’ll want to make sure the server can support the application.
- Are you able to run your applications on Linux-based platforms or do you need a server that runs Windows applications
- Do you have specific software requirements? For example, Moodle generally requires you to have one of the latest versions of PHP running.
- How much traffic do you expect your website will receive?
Shared Hosting Plans
One of the most common types of hosting is shared hosting. This essentially means you’ll be sharing system resources with everyone else on your server. If your website host tells you that you’ll have unlimited bandwidth, storage space and websites, you may find that there are other ways to limit your usage. Your website may slow to a crawl if it begins to get too many visitors, or you may begin to experience downtime. It pays to do your research and find out the technology that the host uses.
Many hosting providers will give you unlimited storage space and data transfer, but there may be limits on the type of content you can store on your site. Check with your hosting provider to find out how they handle extremely large sites, and to see if there are going to be any restrictions on the type of website you want to run.
If the company offers unlimited storage space, then check to see what kind of hard drives the company is using. Most reputable website hosting companies have switched to solid state drives. These drives are much faster and will provide enhanced speed for your website over a traditional mechanical hard drive. You should also check to ensure that the solid state drivers are set up on a storage array to ensure that your website is protected in the event that one of the drives fails.
Speaking of disk failure, it can happen to most any website at even the best hosting provider. The difference between an average and superior host is in whether the hosting provider backs up your website to protect your data. Check to see if your host does nightly backups to ensure that your website never gets lost. Some hosts will place restrictions on their backups, and they may stop making backups if your website goes over a certain number of files or exceeds a data quotient. Even with an automated backup system, you should still download a backup of your files and databases for your own security.
Maximum Concurrent Connections
Most websites won’t have to worry about the limits a server places on the maximum concurrent connections to the database. This is one of the ways they limit you even on “unlimited” plans. However, if you’re running a site like Moodle, you’ll want as many connections as possible. These connections are important to ensure that information gets stored properly and accessed quickly. Ask your host what the limit on maximum concurrent connections is to make sure the restrictions won’t affect you.
SSH Access Capability
Even if you don’t use SSH access, it’s possible that someone you eventually hire to work on your website will want to use it. This is generally an added on service at most hosting providers, so it’s a pretty good bargain if your host offers it for free. It provides a secure method of logging into the system and transferring your files. It can also help you to perform many administrative tasks and install more complex tasks.
If you’ve ever worked on a barebones server, you’ll know how important the tools are that you install on your server. Most website hosting companies offer these tools as part of a hosting package, so you don’t have to manually install complex tasks.
Email is pretty standard with any hosting company, but you’ll want to make sure your server is capable of using secure email. Some hosts will charge extra for secure access to your mail, so it’s a good idea to find out what your host supports before investing.
Free Domain Names
As a way to get you on board, you may get the option of a free domain name. While this isn’t a necessary feature, it can come in handy and save you some money. In most cases, you can also transfer your existing domain name to the new hosting provider for free instead of buying a new domain.
If you want to run an application on your website, it’s important to have a script tool that allows you to quickly install the application of your choice. These tools make it possible to avoid the hassle of setting up databases, passwords and server settings. It can save you a substantial amount of time, and it also simplifies the process of keeping your website updated. Check to make sure your hosting provider offers a utility to install applications.
Going to a new hosting provider always presents a small amount of risk. Check to make sure the company offers a money-back guarantee so that if the service doesn’t work out, you can get your money back. Just remember that if you register a domain or transfer a domain to their service, you should find out whether you get to keep that domain or if it becomes the property of the host.