When you want to build a website, whether for business or for personal use, you’ll need a web host to make your website available on the World Wide Web. Web hosts provide users with server space for online files in varying sizes and levels, virtually speaking. These files are accessible through an online portal, where users can also build their website before publishing it for public view.
Hosting services are relatively cheap, but with dozens of providers you’ll find on the internet these days, choosing can be difficult, especially if you’re a beginner.
Your web host will play an important role in the accessibility of your website, so you can’t just settle for any hosting service without careful consideration. Here’s a handy guide to help you out:
1. Learn The Basics First
If it’s your first time working on a web-building project, it’s important to learn the basics first. There are at least 4 main types of hosting services that you’ll often see offered by providers:
- Shared server hosting. The cheapest hosting service, which literally means you’re sharing server space with other users. This is perfect for beginners or anyone who wants to start on a small scale.
- Virtual private server (VPS) hosting. The upgrade from a shared host, VPS is like the middle ground. On a VPS hosting, you get your own space within a server, which means more storage and better customization options. This is ideal for users who find shared servers too small but aren’t ready for a dedicated server yet.
- Dedicated server hosting. This gives you full control because you’ll have the server all for yourself, which also means it requires more technical skills to manage. It’s the most expensive hosting service and is ideal for websites with heavy traffic.
- Cloud hosting. Unlike traditional hosting, resources in the cloud are spread across multiple servers, which gives it flexibility. This is the more popular option these days, especially for websites with quickly growing traffic, because of its scalability.
Aside from these, you should also be familiar with the types of platforms and operating systems used, which are included in web hosting packages. The most common platform is the cPanel, while the operating systems market is largely dominated by Linux. The platform serves as the main control panel, where users can work on their websites behind the scenes.
Hosting services are subscription-based, and are usually available at a monthly or annual rate, like the ones at www.hostens.com, and may even come with a free domain.
2. Estimate Your Hosting Needs
When you’re familiar enough with the basics of web hosting, you’ll be able to get a better picture of what your website may need. Aside from the type of server, this includes the amount of disk space and memory, and the number of websites the server can hold, among others.
You can start by taking notes of the technical requirements that you need for your website. If you’re not sure how much resources you’ll need based on the number of web pages you have in mind and your expected traffic, it’s best to consult hosting providers to get proper recommendations.
If you’re planning to start small, it may be ideal to start on the lowest plans and just upgrade as needed in the future. Just make sure that what you choose will be able to accommodate upgrades in the future without hassle.
3. Consider Additional Services Your Website May Need
A simple web hosting plan usually includes the basics only or just a bare hosting service. However, it’s also important to consider the other extras your website will require for optimum performance. Important add-ons like an SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) certificate, domain privacy protection, and a CDN (Content Delivery Network), often have to be bought separately.
If you don’t have a domain yet, which is a must for a website, you may be able to get a discount if you buy it from the same provider.
Other useful add-ons, which may be included in packages already are website builders, apps, and backup tools.
4. Compare Providers
Once you’ve narrowed down your options, it’s time to compare the plans they offer. There are providers that offer complete packages that may include the add-ons mentioned above. However, always read the fine print when you’re choosing a package especially the discounted ones. This is because in many cases, the subscription prices will change after a few months or a year.
Also, don’t forget to compare the estimated up-time of the hosting services you’re choosing from. Most providers indicate around 99% up-time, with only small differences, but this is an important detail you shouldn’t overlook as there are cheaper plans with lower up-times.
Lastly, check the quality of their after-sales support. You can look for third-party reviews to get a more realistic idea about a company’s after-sales services.
Choosing a web hosting service can be an overwhelming process in the beginning, but by learning the basics first, especially the important technical aspects, you’ll be able to find the right provider. The good thing is these web services are subscription-based, which offers flexibility if you want to make changes in the future. If you still feel unsure which services to choose, you can ask help from your developer, if you have one, or consult with any provider’s sales team.