As you might have heard, we recently moved our website to HawkHost. The shift was based on the fact how unreliable our previous host was, their service was just appalling. Anyway, it made me realize how important it is to choose the right host that best suit your needs.
I used to go for cheap services (first for price, then inevitably quality), but after my horrific experiences, I’ve learned my lesson - just pay more and have a peace of mind.
It’s not a surprise to know that your website needs a web-server, which is provided by either direct hosting companies, or resellers. They “host” your website on the internet, and naturally you would expect it to be up most of the time, if not all the time.
Unfortunately, this cannot be guaranteed because there’s bound to be crashes or server upgrades, but you can minimize this downtime be choosing the right web-host. There are myriad companies offering all levels of service, but which one is right for you? Arm yourself with the following tips before you go looking for a home for your website.
What are YOUR requirements?
It’s important that you realize the most significant factors before committing to a service. These factors can range from customer support to contract lengths, all depending on your preference and requirements – however, here’s a die-hard list of the most basic yet crucial attributes that you need to keep an eye out for.
Hosting companies can sometimes try to hide their technical support staff (if they have any) behind FAQ lists, contact forms and even premium-rate phone numbers. You are likely to need help, especially when setting up your first website, so find out what level of support you can expect before you choose. It’s worth paying a little bit more if it means you’ll get a better service.
Shared or Dedicated?
Web-hosting services range from “dedicated hosting”, where your website is the only one on the whole machine, thus reducing any lag or interference with any other websites on the same server. Obviously this will be heavier on your pocket, but if you plan to run a busy website you’ll need dedicated server sometime down the road.
Similarly, “shared hosting” is exactly what it is. Your website “shares” the server’s resources with several other websites. Even though it’s a cheaper option you might figure out its not suited to your needs, especially if your web-host OVERSELLS and cramps up the servers – you might experience a lot of downtime.
A really big-downfall in shared hosting is that if any sites on your server gets banned from Search Engines for whatever reason, you might unfortunately cop the consequences too – so it’s better to get at least a dedicated IP Address.
One, two or more domains?
Do you need your server for one site. or do you want to make more? If you do plan to make more sites in the future, you need to make sure your web-host provides the feature to host multiple domains. Usually a “site” is denoted by the fact it has a unique domain, such as “www.blogussion.com”.
Money talks, so make your host walk
In today’s world, with economies crashing and prices soaring – you need to make sure your getting a bang for your buck! The range of possible costs for web-hosting is immense, going from free services to as much as you want to pay!
Free services (there’s a million) can be perfect for simple projects, but as soon as you grow past the ‘simple barrier’ you will realize the restrictions. There is ALWAYS limitations or other downsides to free-hosting, whether it be a service-advert posted on your webpages or restricted FTP access.
Just keep in mind, that you get what you pay for and don’t expect perfect hosting for $0.99/month either. Sometimes it just pays to pay.
Your needs, their services
One of the most important steps prior to building a site, is planning. Once you have decided on the features/facilities you will need for your site – make sure your hosts provides them.
Little-little things like add-on email addresses, multiple FTP accounts, multiple MySQL Databases and such need to be verified that your host provides. Try your best to eliminate any features you don’t want, because you shouldn’t be paying for things your not using.
Always read a review or two!
It’s important to read how satisfied/dissatisfied previous customers were in your potential web-host. It’s absolutely vital that you read a couple of ‘unofficial’ reviews at least before committing to anything. A good place for feedback from other people are DigitalPoint, WhirlPool and WebHostingTalk.
Crack-down on CHEAP Hosting Companies.
Just like anything in life, you get what you pay for. The rise of unbelievably cheap hosting services seem to be growing exponentially and when I mean cheap – I mean dirt cheap. Some of these services are going for just a few cents a month!
I seriously cannot see how any host can profit this from directly, unless they were cramping the servers 10x over their limits. As shocking as it is, I even saw a service at DigitalPoint offering “unlimited everything” for $0.99/YEAR! You tell me what you can expect for that much..
Stay clear of any “unlimited hosting packages” because it’s not possible to have that, no matter how technologically advanced your host is. Ignore the marketing mumbo-jumbo and take my word, it is non-existent.
Many webmasters believe that they have the liberty to upload anything in their space and the “unlimited” hosting account can handle any kind of big traffic; but it is false. Most of the time, it’s too late when they realize that their CHEAP OVERSELLING HOST just suspended their hosting account.
As a webmaster you need to understand that the price is a reflection upon the quality of the service your getting. You cannot expect a 99cent host to even come close to the services offered by BlueHost, Hawkhost and such – it’s just not practical.
My only advie to you would be just forget about these sort of cheap hosts, unless your an established webmaster trying out and experimenting new things. It’s murky waters and can’t be nothing but trouble!