Finding the ideal host for your website means understanding your website’s needs from the bottom up. This means understanding the kind of content you will deliver, as well as the expected demographic of your users. Cheap web hosting services might be found for private blogs and websites, but running a site that provides any significant amount of content means considering things like cloud hosting, VPS services, site uptime, and technical support for when things just don’t work the way you want.
Movin’ On Up…
Starting small might make sense now, but if you have plans to further expand your site, you need to make sure the host you’re with offers pain free means to do so. Upgrading your hosting plan should be as easy as clicking a few buttons and handing over some extra cash, so one of the first questions you need to ask customer service for any host you’re considering is whether or not the hosting plans are dynamically upgradable. It may seem odd, but in today’s hosting world, having your site offline for even a few hours to complete a plan upgrade could spell disaster for your community.
Of course in the planning stages of your website you’re not considering your budget needs further down the road as your site expands, but be sure and look at the top tiers that any host you’re considering offers. You never know when your business might expand to the point that you’ll need one of these top tiers to keep your site running smoothly. Is the price something you’d be comfortable paying when the site is generating income? If not, you may want to reconsider your hosting options.
Static vs. Dynamic Hosting
One important thing to consider if you will be delivering digital content such as music, videos, podcasts, or games is the availability of these items to your customers. With the quality of digital audio and video, your allocation of bandwidth could be eaten through in a matter of minutes if you have a spike in downloads. In order to prevent this, several hosts offer numerous features.
One frequently offered feature is cloud hosting, where your file is distributed across the hosts network so that is always accessible from anywhere in the world. The best cloud services connect your customers to the server node nearest them, so in addition to getting the file they want, it is also delivered at the highest speed possible. While cloud hosting is traditionally a bit more expensive than standard website hosting, if you deliver any sort of content digitally and you plan on having significant growth, then you will probably need some form of cloud hosting to keep you covered.
Shared vs. Dedicated Hosting
Shared hosting means there can be hundreds of sites on one box, all sharing the same IP. If one of the sites you share the hosting box with gets a massive spike in growth and brings the box down, then your site goes with it. In a shared hosting environment, someone else’s marketing success could spell your doom. In order to keep this from happening, having a dedicated hosting plan should be considered.
Dedicated hosting means you are the only site on the box and you’re the only one utilizing the IP. Therefore, any traffic spikes to your site are better able to be handled. While your site may not need dedicated hosting when you first start out, checking with customer service to make sure you can upgrade as you need without much hassle should be a priority. Most highly successful sites will find need of dedicated hosting plans so they are not hammered with problems caused by other sites sharing bandwidth and processing power.
Support and Security
Of course, the final thing you should be fully aware of before choosing a host for your website is whether the company you are going with offers the level of security and customer support you require. If you’re a website novice and need help setting up basic scripts such as WordPress, you might want to see if customer support offers assisted installs to help take some of the headache away from web hosting.
When it comes to security, daily off-site backups are a must. No host can protect you 100% from hard drive failure as that happens, but having off-site backups that are stored on the cloud can keep you from experiencing any significant downtime due to having a backup of your site. Most sites of any repute offer these features, but when you check out the many web hosting reviews of any host you’re considering, be sure and check the security policy to determine whether or not the host will take the security of your site seriously.
Finally, before you purchase hosting from any website, have a good chat with their customer support. If you feel as though they are unable to answer all of your questions adequately, you may want to seek hosting elsewhere. Your initial experience with customer support should be a positive one before any money changes hands, since the company should care about you as a customer before you are one. Let us know your views about ideal host in form of comments below.