While some seasoned webmasters have no trouble picking the right host for their projects, those who haven’t been involved for that long may find it problematic when they’re faced with a multitude of different choices, in some cases, packaged in odd ways which make it more difficult for newcomers to understand exactly whether the package serves their needs.
Below are a few aspects that you’ll want to keep in mind when choosing the right hosting plan for your next website.
1. Do You Need a Shared or Dedicated Hosting or Something in Between?
Shared hosting means that your site will be running on the same machine that’s used to host a number of other clients’ sites. With a dedicated host, you’ll have your own server to use as you wish. While the latter can be much more powerful, it also comes at an increased cost.
There’s also the option of VPS hosting, which looks exactly like a dedicated host from the client’s perspective, but actually relies on shared resources at the backend. It’s not a bad option if you want a large degree of control over the server but aren’t ready to pay the price for a proper dedicated host.
2. Static vs Dynamic
You’ll also have to think about the kind of website you plan to run. If it has no dynamic content, it’s best to go with a host that focuses on static websites only, as otherwise, you’ll end up paying a lot more for services you’re never going to use. Some examples of dynamic sites include:
- Online stores
- Social networks
- Image/video hosting
The general rule of thumb is, if you plan to show any content that’s going to change from time to time according to dynamic parameters, it’s best to implement that through a server-side scripting language like PHP – for which you’re recommended to have a special host in most cases.
Having said that, do note that some companies may not even give you a choice as they only offer dynamic hosts by default.
3. Databases – Yes or No?
On that note, think about whether you need a dedicated database running 24/7. In some cases, you may be able to get away with writing your data to the hard drive directly, although this will be slower and more error-prone. But for sites with relatively low traffic volumes and scripts that are not too complex, this should work fine and will allow you to save a lot of money on your hosting.
Keep in mind that as things scale up, you’re likely going to need a proper database sooner or later. Make sure that you’re using a host that will allow you to easily upgrade in this manner, as finding yourself stuck without an option to push your site forward can easily kill it in some cases.
4. Control Panel
Some people generally don’t care about the type of control panel they’ll be using, but for others, it can matter a lot, especially if you’re already used to a specific one. There are several popular solutions offered by different hosting companies, and some of the most commonly used ones include:
They all have their advantages and disadvantages, and cPanel is currently seen as the market leader with an active presence in a number of websites. It should work fine for most people’s needs, so in case you’re not sure what to pick here, just stick with a company that runs cPanel.
5. Pre-installed Applications
If you’re going to deploy something like WordPress or another popular CMS, you should preferably look for hosts that have a selection of pre-installed applications ready for you to pick from. That way, releasing new websites will be as easy as making a few clicks and typing in the name for the project, as opposed to having to go through the complex installation procedure for each CMS you’re using over and over again.
This is particularly useful for those who plan to run any e-commerce solutions, as the ability to branch out into new stores with a tighter specialisation is one of the biggest aces up the sleeve of any online entrepreneur. However, when the system you’re using makes that difficult and cumbersome, you risk losing a lot of potential business just because you’ll be too slow in setting up your new sites.
Last but most certainly not least, pay attention to what people have to say about the quality of the support offered by the company. You’ll hopefully never want to verify those claims yourself, but if you do run into a problem with their services, it’s always good to know that you’re covered by a team of professionals who know what they’re doing.
The number of hosting companies that pay little attention to their support is staggering and running into one of those can lead to a world of nightmares if you become too entangled with them.
After all, it can be very difficult to just switch to a cheaper host as the migration process can be very tedious, especially if you also have domains tied to that same company. It’s best to ensure that you don’t risk running into any problems with them in the first place.
There are various factors in determining the ideal host for your current project’s needs. Don’t just follow what others are doing though – certain hosts are only popular because they offer specific features that you may not have any use for.
Make a list of critical features that you know you’re going to need for that project, and just start comparing the different companies on the market according to the points from that list.
Don’t rush this – you’re signing up for a long-term relationship that may have a huge impact on your business.