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​How to choose a web hosting service?

Teaming up with the right web hosting service is more important than you think. It’s a partnership. Opt for the wrong one and you could find yourself struggling to get support, suffering downtime or worse. The loss the initial capital investment can be dwarfed by the damage that a bad web hosting can do. Choosing a hosting package needn’t be a chore though, just consider these points below during your research phase and you’ll find the choice of plan becomes much clearer.

1. Type of hosting offered

  • Will you need your own infrastructure?
  • Will you need greater access or control over your server(s) and website?
  • Are you not very technical?
  • Would it be easier to let the hosting company take the lead in maintenance?

Ask yourself all these questions and more. Whether it be shared, VPS, dedicated, or fully managed hosting, look at the pros and cons of all. Ask yourself what you need it to do and don’t be afraid to ask for advice.

2. Support

  • What are the available support channels: email, forums, live chat, telephone, 24/7 or office hours?
  • Are they U.S. based or overseas?

If anything happens to your server or website, from technical errors to DNS attacks, you need to be able to remedy the situation quickly. This becomes more pressing depending on your website. For example, if you run an e-commerce site you’ll be losing money every minute you’re offline. So make sure the support is right for you.

Make sure that the support you are looking for takes place on multiple channels. Likely, you will not always be able to pick up the phone and call, so make sure your selected hosting provider has chat, email and other means of communications. 

Communication is key when you have a problem that needs to be solved quickly. A hosting provider with a U.S. based customer service and support understands the nuances of working with your business, customers and your time zone. There really is power in a personal touch when it comes to customer service and the success of solving your problem.  

3. Features

  • What features are on offer?
  • Does the host use cPanel for one click installations of selected software?
  • How much storage and bandwidth is available? How many domains can be hosted on one account?

Functionality is important for any website and so is future-proofing. If your company grows and with it the amount of space you need, does the hosting company have the capacity and the features to allow for growth?

The hosting provider you select should be able to simple move you seamlessly to the next plan or storage space capacity to meet the needs of your business or website. An important feature that is often overlooked is scalability - both upgrade and downgrade. This is an important feature because what also happens if you are in the wrong hosting product that is too big for your website? You will want a hosting provider who will put you in the right plan. 

4. Server locations

  • Is the location of the data centres important to you?
  • Do you collect personal data on your website?
  • Are you compliance led?

If the answer is yes to any of these questions you may want to look into the location of your servers. Some web hosting providers even allow you to choose your data center location. The benefit of selecting your data center is speed and performance. Resource heavy websites, large scripts and even WordPress themes all influence how fast a site can load. These factors play an important role in website performance and load times as well. And for the environmentally friendly, a few providers off green data centers. Check them out here.  

5. Areas of specialisation

  • What specific platforms do they specialize in?

By far and away WordPress dominates the internet.  Several hosting providers have packages and plans dedicated to WordPress. If your website’s content management system is WordPress then you should look closely at WordPress hosting plans.  

6. Security

  • Depending on the nature of your business you may have higher standards to meet in terms of security. Will this hosting company meet these expectations? Or would another be better equipped?

Similarly, just because you may not have to meet regulated standards doesn’t mean security shouldn’t be a factor in your decision. The internet is a rough neighbourhood and you should make sure your hosting company has appropriate measures in place to protect your server and website. At the end of the day, it may be you who is accountable should anything go wrong.

7. Price & general feedback online

  • How much do they charge and how does it compare to the other hosts on your shortlist?
  • Is price a factor or do you not mind paying that little bit more for a more complete service?

Last but not least, while feedback from users with similar requirements to yours is definitely ideal, lots of general negative feedback from users can be just as revealing.

Research the company itself and the services they provide. While you are more likely to find negative reviews about a company, what previous users have issue with may give indication as to whether you want to trust the hosting company with your website.

  • This is an adapted excerpt from an eBook called "The ultimate guide to web hosting", published by TechRadar Pro in association with Planet Hippo