Choosing a Hosting Plan: The Basics

If you’ve ever searched for web hosting companies you’ll know that there are a lot of them. A hell of a lot of them and let’s be honest, all of them tend to offer the same sort of thing. All of them offer a selection of shared hosting, reseller hosting, cloud/vps solutions and fully dedicated servers. Sure, the package spec may change and the name of the package itself, but effectively, they’re the same thing. So, given they’re of a similar calibre, surely it’s all about the price right and the cheaper the better? Wrong. Having below par hosting can dramatically affect your chances of success when it comes to your project. You may think that sounds somewhat far fetched but imagine having a popular site that goes down for a couple of days at a time because of shoddy hosting? Do you think you’ll retain your search engine positions? Do you think your regular visitors will keep visiting andu visiting when they realize your site is down? Probably not!

This article serves not as a complete guide as to how to find web hosting, no. It’s more of a thought provoking checklist of things to consider when taking out a new hosting plan. The sort of things which will assist you in making an informed and educated decision as to where to host your site.

Finding Reputable Companies

The good thing about web hosting is that there are a lot of companies out there who are all competing for your business. This means that you can probably find exactly what you’re looking for at a relatively competitive price. What is difficult however is finding a host who is reputable. Not just in terms of security but in terms of uptime and reliability. These are equally important as mentioned above. Fortunately for you, the Internet is full of people who like to have an opinion particularly if it’s negative! So you should have no trouble finding web hosting reviews of your potential partner. Keep in mind though that customers do get aggravated and a handful of bad reviews doesn’t make a host bad. For the most part you should take them with a pinch of salt but they do provide somewhat of an insight.

Plans and Packages

As mentioned above, pretty much all web hosting companies offer the same solutions, the same plans and the same packages. You can search around trying to find one which suits you but for the most part it’ll be the same thing offered by the next guy. What is important though is not to be distracted by the bells and whistles that come with the packages. Do not pay more for features you don’t need. The same goes for disk space, memory, cpu, bandwidth etc. pay for what you need.

Location is Important

By location I am talking about two things. Firstly, the physical location of your dedicated server. If your visitors are accessing your site primarily from the United States then make sure your server is physically located in the United States. Lots of people don’t bother looking into this but serving your website to visitors on the other side of the world can add a lot of unnecessary transfer speed which may adversely affect your website. The second reason why location is important is because of support. If you’ve ever been in Europe and tried to raise American support staff in the middle of the morning it’s not the best experience. If you’re in Europe, choose a European host. The same goes for the United States. Although if you do opt to go with one of the large American providers then they’ll no doubt have 24/7 support anyway.

Scalability is Key

Finally, make sure your solution is scalable. Most shared hosts don’t allow you to scale up your packages but solutions like this one allow you to customise a virtual server and have it configured with the resources you need. As it’s all software controlled it makes it quick and easy to assign more ram/cpu/space etc at the click of a button. Gone are the days of someone needing to physically go down to the server rack to slot in another bank of ram!

Conclusion

As mentioned above, there are a lot of hosting companies out there and the market is highly competitive. There are not just good and bad hosts, there is whole spectrum with lots of average companies in between and there is probably always someone better out there or coming along shortly. So you can never get it perfect. As a footnote, my advice would be to use a reputable firm who are priced competitive and who are located (both server and support team) in your home country. This will make things a million times easier when it comes to dealing with them.