Every website needs a host to be able to function. So choosing your website hosting provider is a big decision. A quick search online will reveal that not all hosts are created equal. If your business relies on a strong web presence, you can’t afford to get stuck with a hosting provider that is unreliable and unresponsive.
To help you demystify the process of choosing your hosting provider, we’ve put together this guide and recommendations. We’ll explore some of the popular terms used when discussing website hosting. We’ll also look at some of the non-negotiable things you need to look for when choosing your hosting provider.
If you’re moving hosts, we have also written a handy guide to help you manage this process with ease.
Web hosting terminology explained
When you first start looking for website hosting, you might be bowled over by the terminology. We’ve broken this down into the key terms you need to know.
This is often the cheapest of the options as you will have to make quite a few compromises. Your website will be hosted on a shared server alongside other websites. All resources are shared between these websites, which means if another website on your server has a sudden burst of traffic, this could slow down the rest of the sites on the server.
The next level up from shared hosting is a VPS, or virtual private server. You will share space on a server with other websites, but your site will have a dedicated portion of that server. This is a more secure option, as your website will be blocked off from the other sites on the server. Your website’s performance won’t be affected by other sites on the same server.
Companies with IT capabilities might choose to host their website on their own server. This will be known as a dedicated server and you would be responsible for upkeep and security. If you need security and complete control, this could be your best option.
Managed dedicated hosting
If you don’t have the capabilities to manage your own server, managed dedicated hosting could be a good option. Your server won’t be housed on-site at your business, but you will still have complete control. With another company taking care of the management side, you’ll have peace of mind.
Cloud hosting is becoming increasingly popular. Rather than housing your website on a single server, your website is hosted on a cloud server like Amazon Web Services (AWS). This offers a great deal of flexibility as you will only pay for the resources you need. And if one cloud server goes down, the rest will keep your website running without interruption.
What To Look For In A Hosting Provider
When choosing your hosting provider, we recommend looking at the following factors before making a decision. The price might be a constraint, but this shouldn’t be the end of the discussion, as there are some things that can make or break a website.
We’ve written before about the importance of speed for your website. A slow server that regularly experiences downtime is going to cost you money in the long-term. You can’t afford to compromise on this vital factor. There are many factors that will determine the speed of your website, but it all starts with choosing a fast and reliable hosting provider.
Finding a website hosting service that provides SSL certificates as standard is a great place to start. You need to know that your website is safe and secure from cyber threats. If you collect sensitive information or payment details, this is of the utmost importance.
If your website goes down, you need to know you can reach someone who is able to remedy this fast. Check the level of support you can expect to receive with your hosting package before making a decision. You need 24-7 support that is reachable in a number of different ways.
When your company grows, your website grows. And you need a hosting provider that can keep up. Look for flexible pricing and scalable service that will allow you to only pay for what you need. Moving hosting providers when you’re trying to scale your business is difficult, but not impossible. Avoid this scenario if you can.
Sometimes price will have to be the deciding factor. Cheap hosting will typically require you to make a lot of compromises. This could mean limited support or a sluggish website. You should also be aware of introductory offers that quickly hike up your monthly expenses. These can be a great incentive, but only if the regular monthly payments are also affordable.
Who we recommend
We recommend WP Engine, for the simple reason that they know WordPress. With the vast majority of our website running WordPress, it makes sense to work with a specialist hosting provider. They’re also pretty ubiquitous. Did you know that 5% of the online world visits at least one experience on WP Engine each day? Their hosting packages are flexible, scalable, secure and competitively priced. And with stellar support, you’ll never be left in the dark.