Having your own website is a great way to establish yourself as an expert in your field, showcase your personal brand, and drive more traffic to your services or products. However, creating a website is just the first step. There are many technical details about hosting that can be overwhelming for someone new to website design. Where do you host it? How much does it cost? Who’s best for what kind of site? These are just some of the questions that come up when you begin researching different options for web hosting. These considerations might seem like small details, but they can have a big impact on how accessible and easy it is to maintain your site going forward. Here are five tips for choosing the right web host and ensuring that your new website remains a central part of your digital strategy moving forward.
Run, don’t walk, from free hosting
Free hosting is popular because it’s super accessible — anyone can sign up for a free account and get started. However, as with anything that’s “free,” you need to ask yourself: what’s the catch? With free hosting, you’re often limited on bandwidth, storage space, and other features that make a website easy to manage and accessible to potential clients. You may not be able to install plug-ins, add apps, or have any customization capacity whatsoever. Many free hosts will also put advertisements on your site and track visitor information. You may also have to endure frequent outages or slow loading times because they’re trying to serve a large number of customers on the same server. In short, free hosting is never a good deal. If a host won’t let you pay for a regular hosting plan, run for the hills.
Ask yourself: what’s most important to you?
When you begin researching hosts, you’ll inevitably come across a list of “top” or “best” hosts. However, every business has their own needs and requirements when it comes to hosting. Figuring out what you need from your host can help you narrow down the options and find a host that’s best suited for your needs. If you’re looking to create a blog or a website with a few simple pages and mostly static content, you’ll likely want to find a host that’s very affordable and doesn’t require much in the way of added features. On the other hand, if you’re looking to build a more complex website with user accounts and e-commerce capabilities, you’ll want to find a host that allows you to install plug-ins and has the server speed and capacity to support what you’re trying to achieve. You can also figure out what your needs are based on the size of your business. If your website is a central part of your digital strategy, you’ll likely need a host that’s well-equipped to handle heavy traffic, which means you’ll probably want to look for a host that can provide dedicated server hosting.
Check the reputation of your potential host
As you’re researching potential hosts, you should pay just as much attention to the reviews as you do to the features. Ideally, you want a host that’s been in business for at least a few years, has a great track record, and hosts a wide variety of sites. Check the reviews on various review sites and forums; they’re often a great source of insight into what it’s like to work with a particular hosting provider. Be wary of hosts that have a very limited number of reviews. While they may be new to the hosting game, they may also be trying to fly under the radar until they have enough customers to warrant more attention.
Be wary of any “free” hosting
As we mentioned, free hosting is never a good deal. The added advertisements, the limited capacity, and the potential for data abuse make it a terrible choice for any serious business. That being said, you may still come across some “free” hosting that doesn’t come with the same strings attached as the free hosts described above. While not ideal, it may be a good option if you can’t afford a “normal” hosting plan. Just be sure to read the terms of service very carefully before signing up to ensure that the free version won’t come with any surprises or limitations down the line.
Different types of hosting
There are several types of hosting that you may come across as you research different providers. The most basic is shared hosting, which is the most common type of hosting for small businesses. You’ll share a server with many other customers, which means that you may occasionally experience slow loading times and outages if other websites on the server experience issues. A managed hosting provider is a host that specializes in managing your website. You may have less control over some of the technical aspects of the site, but managed hosting can help simplify the process of maintaining your site by installing plug-ins and apps, backing up your content, and providing other services to make sure your website is always running smoothly. A dedicated server hosting arrangement means that you have a single server dedicated to your site. This is the best choice for hosting large websites with a lot of traffic. A virtual private server (VPS) is a hybrid between shared hosting and dedicated server hosting, providing some of the benefits of both.
When it comes to picking a web host, there are a lot of factors to consider, including cost, server speed, and the type of hosting. You will likely want to speak with a representative from each host to determine which option is best for your needs. There are many options for people looking to host their website. The key is to determine what features are most important and then choose a host that offers those features at a reasonable price. Hosting is an essential part of running a website, but picking the right one can be confusing. You’ll want to run through these five tips to find the best host for your needs. From reading reviews, assessing potential hosts’ reputation, and determining your needs, you can find the right host for your website.