If you have a business website, or even if you have a personal site that you want to monetize, choosing a web hosting provider is critical. Depending on which provider you choose, you might have a site that’s always available to anyone who wants to look at it. You could also have a website that’s frequently down for hours or days at a time.
With that in mind, we’ll look at some different ways that you can choose a web hosting provider. There are definitely a ton of options out there, and you don’t want to choose one that doesn’t make sense for your needs.
Figure Out How Much Hand-Holding You Require
When you look at web hosting, how much help you need is one area that matters a great deal. That is because:
- You might need near-constant help if you don’t have much tech experience
- You may require assistance more frequently if you have a much larger, more complex site
Think about a website like Amazon. It has millions of product pages for everything that it has for sale, and there are generally millions of people using it at any time. The web hosting provider for a site like that needs to be ready to handle any issue 24/7.
A contrast might be an eCommerce business site that sells something like ten different products or services. There might be a total of twenty web pages on the site, including an FAQ section, an “About” section, a contact form page, etc.
Look at your site, and think about how quickly you’d need your web hosting provider to help you if you have any issues. You might want one that you can contact via ticket support, email, or possibly phone support.
If you get a non-managed service, they can answer some basic configuration questions, but they won’t be willing to help you beyond that.
Decide Whether You Want a Managed or Non-Managed Hosting Service
Essentially, there are two different web hosting provider versions, the managed or non-managed option. If you get the managed option, that means:
- You want to completely delegate your site management
- You probably don’t know much about tech or website maintenance
If you do have at least somewhat of a tech background, it’s by no means a bad idea to go for a non-managed hosting service. These are usually more cost-effective, and you get a more stripped-down service. This could be the right way to go if you want a more no-frills option.
If you get a managed service, they will keep an eye on any security issues that come up. They will patch your software whenever it needs it. They will also ensure that your system is appropriately load-configured, and it will handle your backups.
Consider How Much Traffic You Typically Get
If you’re running an eCommerce website or about to monetize the site you have in some way (like setting up a paywall section, for instance), you should think about how much traffic you’ll probably get. Be honest with yourself. Every eCommerce website wants to find massive success like Amazon, but it’s not likely.
The reason this does matter so much is that web hosting providers charge according to your bandwidth usage and storage. Bandwidth means how many bytes you serve during a given time. In other words, you’ll only need a low bandwidth if you know that few visitors are likely to come to your site.
Because of this, you might go with a particular web host provider in your company’s early days. They likely won’t charge as much. If one of your social media campaigns suddenly goes viral and people start clamoring for one of your products, you may need to go with a new web host provider that will give you a higher bandwidth.
If you need more bandwidth, it will certainly cost more, but if your website is seeing more traffic and you’re selling more products, you probably won’t mind.
Look at Server Types and Understand Them
The one area at which you really need to look is the different server types and what each one is all about. If you need to spend as little cash as possible, like if you’ve got a startup and a shoestring budget, for instance, that’s probably going to mean a shared server. A shared server is a single box that is running hundreds of sites.
If this is your choice, how your site performs will depend on the load all those other websites put on the host box. Remember that shared hosting will limit your server capability access. It will also restrict what programs you can run on the service.
Then there is a VPS, or a virtual private server. That will cost more. What you’re getting is a simulated computer, which some people call a virtual machine, that runs on a box. If you elect to pursue this choice, you should be familiar with basic server management and maintenance.
Cloud servers are the third option, and many first-time website operators love them. They run on enormous public clouds, such as Microsoft Azure or Amazon Web Services.
If you decide this suits your needs best, you can scale seamlessly. If you feel like you’re going to get a significant traffic surge because one of your Instagram posts is about to go viral, you can pay your provider more money, and you’ll be ready for that. You don’t need to rebuild or move anything around.
As you narrow down the options, watch out for any “unlimited” claims. Some hosting providers tell you they can give you unlimited bandwidth and storage for extremely low prices. If they ask for something like five dollars for all the storage and bandwidth you could want, there’s probably something in the fine print that runs counter to that claim.
The hosting provider can probably shut you down after a particular usage level. Always peruse the contract very carefully before you sign up with anyone.