Would you build a house on land that was unstable? I’m guessing the answer is no.
This same principle applies when reviewing services and looking for the best web hosting company for your website business.
Think for a moment if a server has a hiccup and the entire website is wiped out. Will the host be able to help?
A few years ago websites went down constantly whenever they were promoted on Digg. This happened because of the sudden spike in traffic that came from this site.
How will the host handle a similar problem if it was your website?
These are just two common problems. But don’t underestimate them. Having an established site crash while money is being made and customers are using the site is the worst case scenario. And this alone can drive a person crazy.
So it’s critical that you choose the right host from the start. Because I don’t think it’s best to learn this part from experience.
The thing is, most new site owners don’t have a clue what service options they need. There are important considerations when looking for hosting for a website. Here is a short list:
1. How much raw space do you need?
2. How many databases do you need?
3. Will you need to host more than 1 domain?
4. How many email addresses do you need?
5. How much space will you get for email initially?
6. Will you need SSL?
7. How good is the customer service?
8. What are the monthly costs?
9. Is file recovery/backup offered Free?
10. What options is there for bandwidth usage?
11. Are their any bonuses like Free Adwords credits?
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Standard features of any hosting company
Space: Raw storage space is abundant and cheap.The top hosting companies provide large amounts of it or provide it on an unlimited bases.
In most cases a site will not need unlimited space. If it’s a social site or it will publish new content indefinitely, then space might be a factor.
Databases: Your site probably will not need a database. If it’s a static site with a set amount of pages, then it may not be useful at all.
If the site is dynamic, where content is added or edited by an administrator or user, then the database will be necessary. Under most situations, 1 database will be fine.
Domains: One domain is normal. More than one is common. So if you need or plan on running more than one site, there are plans that will allow this on a single hosting account.
Email Addresses: A good host will allow multiple email addresses. In fact more than 50 email addresses is common.
Email Space: The space needed for email is very important. Some of the top hosts offer small amounts of space and push for an upgrade at a premium price. If email space is critical for your business, spend some time looking at this option, as it varies widely.
SSL: If your site will be processing payments, collecting or transferring sensitive information to users then you will need SSL.
Some payment processors don’t allow payments online unless SSL is installed and working properly on important pages.
SSL is expensive and all web hosting companies offer this as a premium service. Some companies do offer a 1st year SLL service for free.
Special features of top hosting companies
Customer Service: Any good service provider must have excellent customer service. Top companies provide various ways to contact them including phone, email, support ticket system and live chat.
The best web hosting companies all offer a phone number to call them. If not, don’t buy from them.
Companies with phone support usually have large call centers that can answer within 10 minuets, and these centers are based in the US or Canada. But many don’t, so test them by actually calling the support line.
If the same person or group of people handle customer service at a host company, don’t buy from them. They might be too small.
Often VPS packages require additional upgrades for Advance Technical Support.
Monthly Cost: Web hosting is cheap. Anything above $15 a month for a shared hosting plan is outside the norm. Virtual Dedicated or Dedicated plans are often more expensive and can cost more than $100 monthly.
Under most circumstances a standard shared plan will work. If the site becomes very busy or large, then an upgrade to Dedicated should be considered.
There are a number of add-on services that can add to the hosting costs. These add-ons include email space upgrades, private registration, ssl and more.
File backups: Websites crash often. Even with the best hosting companies, websites get hacked or altered. The only way to guard against this is to have a reliable backup/recovery system.
Hosting companies are not generous with backups or file recovery. Some don’t provide any backup service to the customer. Many charge a fee for this.
Some companies like Godaddy offer a self serve backup/recovery feature which is great. Regardless, most backup systems are limited to a few weeks or months of historic data.
Bandwidth: This represents the amount of data transferred back and fourth from and to users. Top companies offer unlimited bandwidth on at least one of their standard plans.
Weaker companies may put a cap on this for all their plans. But unlimited bandwidth is something you may need regardless of what type of site you have.
It all depends on how much visitors a site will serve at any given time.
Free Adwords Credit: All the top hosts give bonus advertising credits. Often it’s for Adwords, but some hosts have freebies from other advertising companies.
Take advantage of these credits if you can, as they can help with an initial boost to your visitor traffic.
I didn’t want to simply layout each plan for each company. They are all mostly the same. But there are critical differences that can make your life much easier.
I highly recommend these services simply based on their excellent customer service which I have not experienced with many other hosts.