Welcome (back)! You are officially reading the sixth article from our series How to Get Your Business Started. We must admit, it’s been a long path from deciding whether you want to create a website by yourself to selecting a web hosting provider. In the following text, we are going to help you choose the right web host for your WordPress based site. Let’s get started!
Now that you know which platform you are going to use to build a website and how you are going to do it (at least some parts of it), you can move onto choosing the right web hosting provider.
In theory, all you need to do is google “wordpress hosting” and you’re find something for sure. In real life, it’s not that easy. Just think of the good people of Quora, who wanted to know the answer to the same question. If you look closely on Quora, you’ll see that there are over one hundred answers to this question, which is, you’ll admit it, a lot.
So, what should you look in a web hosting provider? Well, we prepared several factors that can help you choose the right one.
How does hosting work?
Before you even start thinking about choosing a web hosting provider, you should know how hosting works. Let’s see.
As you might already know, websites “exist” and are hosted on servers. Every time a user types your domain name in a Google search bar, their computers connect to a server and deliver web pages. A server? Yes. A specialized type of machine (a computer) that works 24-hours a day for a longer period. Think of it as a reliable supercomputer that runs on a specific operating system. This type of operating system allows the server to be able to work as long as it can.
So, what are hosting providers then?
Web hosts, or server hosts, offers servers’ data to users. To be more precise, the company that provides or leases server space is the hosting service provider.
The last information you need to remember is that when you are using servers to host a website, it’s called server or managed hosting.
Four types of web hosting services
To be precise, there are four BASIC types of web hosting services. Depending on what the service offers, the price of the hosting can be different.
These four types are:
- shared hosting,
- Virtual Private Server,
- dedicated web servers and
- cloud-based hosting.
Shared hosting is the cheapest option and here’s why.
When you think about shared hosting, imagine a box that contains a bunch of websites. All these websites run thanks to that box. In more technical terms, shared hosting means that your site is hosted on a server that is shared by other websites.
There’s only one disadvantage of shared hosting ー it can affect your website’s performance. Why? Because your site’s performance depends on the load other sites are putting to the host. Be sure to keep in mind that, alongside this challenge, shared hosting can limit the amount of database access your website can perform, as well as how many files can a user can upload via FTP.
Before you completely rule out the option of choosing shared hosting, keep in mind that, according to Webhostingsecretrevealed.com, this type of hosting can easily support a WordPress site with thirty or forty thousand visitors per month. The best part is? The cost of this web hosting service is usually between $3 or $12 per month.
Note: If you decided to choose shared hosting, you need to know how many other sites are on a server. If this information is not explicitly written in some document, be sure to send a message to your web hosting provider.
The second option, VPS, actually stands for the name of a virtual machine or a simulated computer. So, VPS is not a server but acts like one. The good thing about VPS is that it provides much better performance. The bad part, however, is in the fact that you need to know the basics of maintaining a server to use it.
The pricing of VPS is based on the CPU usage and memory (RAM) you get. It is a more expensive option, that can cost you between $50 and $200.
Now, if you are wondering if there is a balance between shared hosting and VPS, we have good news. It called dedicated server hosting.
The third option, having a dedicated server means that you have a server just for your website. A hosting company provides you a server that is just for you. No sharing, no slowing down your site’s performance.
Is dedicated server the one for you? Probably not just yet. This type of servers is great for sites that are getting a lot of traffic. Additionally, this service can cost you between $80 and $150 a month, and you’ll need a system administrator to maintain a server.
Note: After naming these three web hosting services, we have to mention something that often happens. If you choose shared hosting, VPS or dedicated servers and your site is weighing down the server by using too much CPU, chances are you are going to be told that you are over-using the system and, therefore, making a violation of the terms and conditions. So, no matter which plan you decide to go with, be sure to monitor your server usage. We will get to that part a bit later.
And then there’s the last option 一 using cloud servers. Did we save the best for last? Wait and see.
We are sure you have heard of Amazon Web Services or Microsoft Azure. These are the servers that easily adjust to your needs. For example, if you start having more traffic on your website, you don’t have to worry about your hosting provider shutting it down. All you need to do is upgrade to a different plan and you are all set. When it comes to costs, cloud hosting providers offer a pay-as-you-go approach to pricing.
If you want to do some additional search on cloud hosting, be sure to check out an article on Computerworlduk.com. Authors did a fantastic job comparing AWS, Microsoft Azure and Google Cloud Platform.
Which one’s for you?
Well, our advice is to start with shared hosting. The main reason why we are suggesting this is because it’s the cheapest option, pretty reliable and you don’t have to worry about server and database maintenance. By choosing the shared hosting, you can focus on building a website.
However (there is always a however part), if you are planning to grow your website in less than a year or two, opt for VPS or dedicated servers. Sure, these types of hosting services cost more, but you’ll increase the security level of your website and improve memory capacity.
There is just one more advice we have to give you. Pay attention to suspicious offers some hosting providers tend to make. For instance, you may get an offer to get unlimited storage for just a couple of dollars a month. Although it may sound like a good offer, there’s usually more to it, written in the boring text no one ever reads, a.k.a Terms of Service.
Once we covered basic types of web hosting services, it’s time to introduce you to plans. Each of the hosting providers offers different packages.
When it comes to hosting providers and plans, there’s one thing you have to remember: the right web hosting provider is the one that offers multiple plans. Why? Because when you are first starting you don’t know what plans are the best for you. How much website space do you need? What about email accounts or email storage? Are you going to have subdomains? Who knows?
Our advice is, when you are choosing a hosting plan, start with the most basic one. Also, be sure to do a bit of research on how easy it is to switch to another hosting plan. It should be a piece of cake. If it’s not, choose another hosting provider.
An extra tip we can give you is to pay attention to options such as a free trial period or a refund. It’s always good to have “a backup plan” if you are not satisfied with the hosting provider you chose.
Uptime and downtime
Uptime is a period in which users can reach your website. Your site’s users are probably going to come from all around the world and different time zones, it needs to be up and running all the time. However, it doesn’t just have to “work”. It needs to be up 99,95% of the time. A norm of good hosting providers is to offer you at least up 99% of the time. Anything below this number is unacceptable. A downtime is ー you guessed it ー a period in which users can’t reach your website.
Before you choose a hosting provider, please be sure to look into this, since uptime is one of the factors that show how reliable a hosting provider is.
Now, let’s look into the future and say you chose a hosting provider. Is there a chance to monitor your uptime and how your server works? Well, the simplest way to do it is to use server monitor tools. This tool can help you track a CPU usage, how much memory your website takes, active processes and other parameters. In the end, server monitoring, enables you to understand what is happening with your site which then allows you to plan your future steps regarding usage and capacity.
If you are not willing to pay for this service additionally, you can check a list of seven free server monitoring tools.
Control panel of your hosting provider
Another factor that differentiates a good hosting provider from the bad one is how easy to use the service is. Your hosting provider’s user interface should be easily manageable, clean and polished.
A part of this user interface is a section called Control Panel. Control Panel is the control section which allows you, as the administrator, to access server functionalities without having to write a single command line.
When it comes to Control Panels, the good news is that pretty much every hosting provider offers a good user interface. If the looks of Control Panel plays an essential role in choosing a hosting provider, then be sure to check the article on Hostingadvice.com. The post covered comparison between some of the most popular hosting management tools and their CPs.
FTP and SFTP
Another important feature you need to keep in mind is the presence (or the lack of it) of two protocols.
FTP, an acronym of the words File Transfer Protocol, is a service that makes possible for website users to upload and download files. SFTP, as you might have guessed, stands for Secure File Transfer Protocol, which ensures that data is securely transferring between a server and a website user.
This two protocols usually come in a package, but that doesn’t have to be the case. Just make sure that the hosting provider you chose offers both of them.
Is your website data secure? A “No” as an answer to this question is unacceptable. A hosting provider of your choice should have certificates and measures to secure all your website data. That being said, a trustworthy hosting provider supports SSL certificates.
So, what are these certificates? Shortly, these certificates are the base of your site’s security. They are the reason customers are more confident to add a product to their online shopping cart.
If you are interested to learn more about these certificates, be sure to visit Digicert.com’s article.
In one of the previous paragraphs, we mentioned that you should use server monitoring tools. That’s right and one of the parameters you should monitor is server responsiveness.
But, let’s start from the beginning.
Did you know that, according to HubSpot, a one-second delay in page load results in a 7% reduction in conversions? Yes, you’ve read that right ー the more time it takes your site to load, the more money you lose. Not the mention, page loading time is one of the factors in Google’s ranking system.
The time that is required for a page to load is called TTFB, or Time To First Byte, also known as the responsiveness of your web server. Now, there’s just one issue with TTFB.
If you google “hosting ttfb” there are going to be thousands of search results. If you, additionally, check the results on the first page, none of them is going to give you the answer which hosting provider has which TTFB. To find out this information, be sure to send a message or an email to hosting providers that got your attention. Just so you know, the ideal TTFB is, according to Google, 200 milliseconds or less.
In the end, all we have to say is that worrying about things you cannot do much about it a waste of time. Instead of thinking about TTFB, be sure to test the speed of your website constantly. That way you can get an answer to how your server performs, as well. You can test using the Byte Check tool.
The importance of a backup
Let’s say, hypothetically, your website crashes. Maybe it was a hacker attack, perhaps the server crashed. The reason behind it not important. The important thing is that you made sure to have a backup of all your data.
When it comes to backup, the most important thing is to do it regularly. Now, if you are starting a business, there are a lot more important tasks you need to keep in mind, besides worrying about a hosting service. That being said, it might be a good idea for someone (read: hosting provider) to do that for you.
The good news is that some hosting providers offer an option of auto backup, so be sure to check this feature, as well.
Let’s go back to the website crash. If this happens (God forbid!), you need to ask yourself whether you are going to be able to restore the backup files yourself or you need to wait for your hosting provider staff to do it. The best option would be to do it by yourself.
When it comes to hosting, how much help do you actually need? Be honest.
Probably all the help you can get.
It’s always good news if your web hosting provider offers 24/7 support. Whether it’s chat or phone support, be sure to find the one that responds fast to your messages or calls.
You have almost reached the end
Previously mentioned parameters are the ones you should pay attention to when choosing the right web hosting provider. That being said, there are three more factors that, depending on your website and your needs, play a role.
These factors are:
Add-on domains (additional domains) are domains that can be created from within the control panel of the hosting provider you chose. These domains are separated from your primary one.
Having an option to create add-on domains is a useful option if you are planning on owning more than one domain.
Some hosting providers also offer to host email accounts. So, if your site’s domain is yourcompany.com then your email account is, most likely, going to go by the name of YourName@YourCompanyName.com.
Truthfully, this factor shouldn’t have that much effect when choosing a hosting provider. Google’s GSuite still works like a charm.
One-click install is a factor that is not as significant as the previously mentioned ones. However, it can save you time and spare you from manually installing a content management system.
In case you didn’t know, WordPress has a detailed guide on how to install it. It’s called Famous 5-Minute Installation. If, however, these steps seem too complicated for you, then 1-click install can come in handy.
If you are into this option, be sure to check out BlueHost, DreamHost or NameCheap.
Note: Themes Kingdom team is not affiliated with any of the mentioned providers nor do we make a commission if you end up purchasing BlueHost, DreamHost or NameCheap through referral links in this blog post. We simply wanted to name some web hosting providers that offer easy install for WordPress based sites.
Aaaand that’s it! These are all the factors you should take into account when choosing a web hosting provider.
If you scan the text again, you’ll notice there a lot of things you need to pay to attention to. To make this journey a bit easier for you here’s our advice: start with the shared hosting and choose the plan that you think will suit your needs the best. From that point on, you can monitor traffic and server responsiveness and see whether you like that hosting service or not. You can always switch to another one.
If you are still in the dark when it comes to which hosting provider you should pick, be sure to check an article on WP Beginner.
Keep calm and find the right hosting provider. Until next time!
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