How to choose a web host: 10 of the most important things
Are you looking to build a website, but are you unsure of which web host you should choose to build and host your website? Or are you just confused because there are so many web hosts with countless different services? No worries! In this article, you'll learn the 10 most important things you need to pay attention to when selecting a web host.
Whether you're a beginner who's never hosted a website, or simply someone who's unsatisfied with their current hosting provider, you'll know how to find the perfect hosting provider for you once you've finished reading this article!
1. Types of web hosting
First off, there are several types of web hosting available. The web hosting you need depends on your requirements. Below, you'll find an explanation of the different types of web hosting, sorted from cheapest to most expensive.
Shared hosting is the most common type of hosting, where multiple websites share resources on a single server. This option is affordable and suitable for small websites with moderate traffic.
Managed WordPress/WooCommerce hosting is a type of shared hosting that is specifically designed for websites built on the WordPress platform, which includes features like backups, extra security, and premium customer support for your WordPress website. Managed WordPress hosting can be slightly more expensive than standard shared web hosting, but it's still very affordable and a great choice if you'd like to build a WordPress website.
Virtual Private Server (VPS) hosting offers more resources and control than shared hosting, as it partitions the server into multiple virtual servers, each with its own operating system and resources. It's an affordable option for most businesses, but it's more expensive than shared hosting. It's also more difficult to use than standard web hosting or Managed WordPress, so if you're a beginner, shared hosting is a better choice.
Cloud hosting uses multiple servers to host a website, which allows for flexibility and scalability, making it a great choice for websites with high traffic.
Dedicated hosting provides an entire server exclusively for one website, offering the highest level of control and resources. Dedicated hosting is the most expensive type of hosting.
If you're just getting started with a new business, shared hosting is usually the best choice. Ask a web host you're interested in if you're not sure which type of web hosting would be best for you. Most web hosts are happy to help.
2. Website builder
Do you want to build your website with WordPress? That's totally fine! Most hosts allow you to do that.
Keep in mind that WordPress can be quite difficult to use if you've never built a website with it before. So, if you want an easier way to build a website, it's a good idea to see if your web host offers an easy-to-use website builder.
You can even consider platforms such as Wix or Squarespace, which are specifically designed to make building a website super easy to use for anyone who's never built a website before. If you build your website with companies like these, you usually don't even need to take care of any web hosting stuff, as these platforms take care of that. So, that can make things a lot easier for you.
However, WordPress is a lot more customizable than platforms such as Wix or Squarespace. There are thousands of WordPress plugins and themes which you can use to customize your website. So, if you want the most amount of customization, building your website with WordPress can be a better choice.
The speed of your website is incredibly important for many reasons. For example, it's a factor which can affect the ranking of your website on Google. Also, there are plenty of studies showing that a website's speed plays a significant role in its conversion rate. For example, researchers at Portent found that a website that loads in 1 second has a conversion rate that's 3x higher than a website that loads in 5 seconds!
You can find out if the web host you're interested in offers fast web hosting by reading reviews from other companies or by searching for something like "fastest web hosting companies your country".
Before you purchase any web hosting plan, you definitely need to have a look at the reviews of the hosting provider. You don't want to purchase web hosting and then later find that there are many problems with your web hosting plan that other people have already complained about in reviews.
Many hosting providers are rated over 4.5 stars, so choosing a hosting provider with at least a rating of 4 or 4.5 is a good idea.
5. Customer support
Customer support is one of the most important things when it comes to choosing your web hosting plan. Sure, customer support may not be at the top of your head when you're buying a product from an online store, but when you're buying web hosting, you'll likely need it sooner or later.
You don't want to be stuck with any problems later on, only to find out that the company you host your website with has terrible customer support. Have you ever had an experience with a customer support team where you were just felt like they weren't even listening to you, and they were just copy-pasting their replies? Yikes.
Also, quick customer support is very important. Imagine this scenario: You found a bug with your web hosting, but a company takes 2 days to reply by email and doesn't offer support by phone. It takes you 3 replies for them to finally understand the issue. That means, you'll have waited at least 6 days before your issue is acknowledged, let alone solved. Far too long!
Reading the reviews of a company is a great way to find out if they have good customer support, but you can also send them an email with your questions before you purchase your web hosting plan to find out how quickly you get your questions answered.
6. Storage space
The storage space of your web hosting plan determines how many files can be stored on it. If you're looking to build a very basic website without many images, this may not be very important for you. But if you're looking to build a website with many images, blogs, videos, etc, it's definitely something you should take into consideration.
For most websites, 1 to 5 GB of storage space is enough. It's recommended that you start with a smaller amount, as you can easily upgrade later when you need to with most hosting providers. That way, you avoid any unnecessary costs.
7. Uptime guarantee
Many hosting companies offer an uptime guarantee. The uptime determines the minimum amount of time your website will be online. For example, if the uptime guarantee is 97%, it means the host guarantees that your website will be online at least 97% of the time.
However, many hosts offer an uptime guarantee of more than 99%. The higher the uptime guarantee, the better it is for your website.
A Content Delivery Network (CDN) is a distributed network of servers located in different geographic locations around the world, designed to deliver content to end-users with high availability and performance.
In layman's terms: a CDN improves the loading speed of your website, especially for international visitors.
So, if you expect many international visitors to your website, you might want to choose a web hosting provider that includes a CDN with their web hosting plans.
9. Other functions
Different web hosting providers include different features with their web hosting plans. For example, if you want to build a WordPress website, you'll benefit from a provider that offers access to a one-click WordPress installer, though most providers do include this with their web hosting plans.
You'll also likely need an SSL certificate for your website. An SSL certificate protects the information exchanged between your website and its visitors, such as passwords and usernames. Even if you don't process personal data, it's a good idea to have an SSL certificate, as it can improve your ranking on Google. Many web hosts include a free SSL certificate with their plans.
Some web hosts even include free business email with their plans, which can be a great way to save money.
The price is the last thing you should worry about when choosing a web hosting provider, as the other points mentioned in the article should be a priority.
Most shared web hosting plans usually cost anywhere from €1 to €20 per month. Therefore, if your budget is extremely tight, you can definitely find a super cheap web host.
However, keep in mind that some plans do require a yearly purchase, whereas others do not. And with some providers, yearly plans are a bit cheaper than monthly plans. If you want to avoid paying for a year in advance, you should find a web host that doesn't require that.
Summary of the 10 things to pay attention to
If you're a beginner, you'll likely need shared web hosting, which is a great option when starting out. It's affordable and offered by many web hosts.
Building your website with a platform like Wix or Squarespace can make it a lot easier for you, but it doesn't offer the customization options that WordPress does. If you choose to build your website on Wix, Squarespace, or a similar platform, you don't need to worry about buying web hosting separately, as it's included with their website builder.
When choosing a provider, also make sure to pay attention to the speeds, uptime guarantee, customer support, storage space, other features, and prices that are offered by the web host. Reading the reviews of a company is a great way to find out many of these things.
Hopefully, you're now ready to find your perfect hosting provider!