7 Tips For Choosing A Website Host
Making the right decision about website hosting is critical to any website’s success. In my work with clients, I always spend time with them considering what their specific needs are and helping them understand the different hosting options. Both of these steps are vital to making a smart decision that will serve you long term. So what goes into these decisions? Here are a few pointers that I use to help guide the process:
1. Assess what your needs are
First things first – I always start by looking with you at how much traffic your website gets and how much bandwidth you expect to use. With this information in hand, you'll be ready to consider which hosting option best meets your needs.
2. Understand the options – shared hosting and virtual private servers
You have probably heard words like shared hosting and virtual private server, but may have no idea what they mean or what the best option is for your site. In my work with you, I'll give you an overview of the different options and help you decide what's best given your circumstances. Here are some basics on the different options:
- Shared hosting (you’re one of many on a server) - this is generally the lowest cost option and can work well if you have a smaller site. Set up is typically very easy and doesn’t require any technical knowledge. It’s common to run into speed, space and, sometimes, security issues though.
- Virtual private servers (VPS) (a unique server on a machine running many unique servers) – this option will give you faster speeds and more bandwidth than shared hosting. You’ll need someone to take care of the server and keep things up to date though.
3. More options – dedicated servers
- Dedicated servers (your website is the only one on the server) – dedicated servers are like owning a car and driving it solo. They give you good performance, but are more expensive and require more IT know how.
4. Hosting must haves
Because website speed is critical from a mobile and search engine optimization perspective, I highly recommend buying the best hosting option you can afford. Here are a few things that I recommend to all of my clients that you really can’t live without:
- Excellent support (because things will go wrong eventually)
- Daily backups (because things will go wrong eventually)
- Fast servers running current versions of software (PHP, etc.)
- Easy to use control panel (cPanel, etc.)
5. Make sure your host stays current
A good host provider will be proactive about keeping things up to date, while a bad one will rest on laurels. It's important to be aware of hosting changes (for example, a buy out) even once a host provider is selected and to make sure that they are staying current. One easy way that I test this with my clients is by seeing if the version of PHP that’s being run on the server is current.
6. Things to watch out for - hosting consolidation
Hosting is an evolving paradigm and a host that is good one month, may not be so great a few months down the road. The hosting industry is currently evolving with many quality smaller hosts being purchased by larger companies. For example, one host provider I've used was recently purchased by a large offshore conglomerate and support and quality issues started instantly.
When considering a host, it’s a good idea to ask what their long term vision is.
7. Interested in learning more?
Stay tuned! We’re planning another post in January that continues on this and related topics.