If you are an absolute newbie and this is your first time selecting a web hosting, there are a lot of questions that you might have, regarding web hosting such as, “What is a web hosting?”, “what is the difference between a web hosting and domain name?”, “what is a server?”, “what are the different types of web hosting?”, etc. You will find the answers to all the above questions in Part 1 of my Beginners Guide to Web Hosting.
Whether you are an absolute newbie and this is your first time selecting a web host or you’ve done this a couple times, there are certain questions regarding aspects of web hosting that you want answered in a satisfactory manner before you commit to the services of any particular hosting provider. In this 2nd part, I have compiled a list of the 10 most important features you should consider carefully before committing and also the advantages and disadvantages of Paid Web Hosting vs. Free Web Hosting.
The Top 10 Basic features of a Web Hosting that you need to consider when selecting a host:
1.Shared Hosting: If you arew just starting out, this is the best hosting option for you. With shared hosting, you basically share the resources of a particular server with other customers. This is why the price is so cheap. Since, you are sharing the memory, power, and capacity of the server, there are bound to be certain inherent limitations to the scope of your website. Nonetheless, this type of hosting is the most popular hosting option for starting out on your online projects.
2. Uptime Guarantee: This percentage guarantee number represents the potential amount of time your site is likely to be available on the World Wide Web to users in general and your customers in specific. Anything below 99.9% uptime is not substantial and conducive to your website or online business and should be avoided.
3. Customer Support: Support is a crucial part of selecting a hosting, especially if you are a fresher. It is absolutely important that you’re hosting provider offers support 24/7, 365 at least via a single channel, be it through the phone, chat, or email. You should look carefully at the hours when they offer Technical assistance to decide whether or not, those hours suit your needs. You will be facing certain technical difficulties from time to time, so it is important that the support you receive is capable enough to answer and resolve those issue as fast as possible, preferably within 1-2 hours. In my experience, the best hosts that deliver the best support, use efficient email ticketing systems, where you simply fill in the details of your technical issue via a support ticket and have your problem resolved within the hour. Bluehost and Hostgator both have phenomenal support and have both been awarded with an A+ for quality services rendered by the CBBB (Council for Better Business Bureau). Another, important aspect to consider, is what assistance or support for setup they offer, and whether that charge an additional amount for it.
4. Payment Plans, Free trial and money-back: Most web host will offer 3 different shared hosting plans starting with the “starter” pack (which is the cheapest with the least features), to the “middle” or most popular pack (with better features) and finally the “professional” (with added extra features and support options). For the most part you will be considering the “middle” pack, so it is important to see what payment options they offer’ monthly or yearly and whether there are any discounts on yearly subscriptions. Also, check to see if they offer a free trial or money back guarantee. Check out Bluehost to see their plans and money back guarantee.
5. Backup and Security: As you can imagine this is really important. All servers face technical and performance issues from time to time, and it is not uncommon for even the best of servers to go down every so often. In case of any such emergency, you will want to back up both your site files and your databases. So check t6o see what back options the host providers and if they don’t you will have to figure it out yourself, which might not be the best idea, if its your first experience with hosting, so make sure to select a host that does offer backup options.
6. Email Account and Features: Many web hosts toady, also offer email accounts for your domains. when looking at their email options, you should consider the number of accounts that they will let you set up, including their options for receiving mail and whether or not they have a webmail interface. Just to give you an idea of the variety of email features on offer, Hostgator enables you to create unlimited email addresses under each domain, which is especially great for business owners who are looking to create multiple accounts for their employees. With their IMAP support, it is even possible to receive emails to your phone. Also, along with creating unlimited email addresses, you can create unlimited auto-responders, email aliases, mail lists and mail forwards.
7. Domains and Sub Domains: You should also check to see the number of domains your host allows you host under one account. Having a single domain to start with is okay, but it’s all better to go with the plan that offers a couple, if not multiple domains under 1 account, so that in the event that you want to host more websites and you have more ideas you want to work with, you have the option of doing so without having to manage a hosting account for each site you own.
8. Storage: This is obviously an important consideration. You want to have access to a good amount of web space if you plan on building a medium to large sized website, which shouldn’t require more than 100 megabytes of space, unless you’re really planning on building a monster with robust functionality. At any rate, you should read the fine print, especially when they mentioned unlimited web space, because usually what that means is that the space is unlimited until you go over the ‘average’ site usage.
9. Bandwidth: You need a good of amount of bandwidth for your small to medium website to transmit adequate amounts of data to be able to do any worthwhile business or even run a good blog. Bandwidth is the data transfer rate or the amount of data your website can transmit to users. So, if you plan on attracting lots of visitors to your website, then you need to make sure your web host offers you a good amount of bandwidth. Again, just as with web space, some hosts offer “unlimited” bandwidth, so you should read the fine print and figure out what they charge when you exceed the limit.
10. Site Building tools and extra applications: WordPress is a great way to start. It is a free CMS (Content Management System) that helps you build websites and blogs. It is incredibly easy to use, and you don’t have to know any technical stuff whatsoever. It also has an extensive collection of free themes that can make your website look professional and amazing, with only a few clicks. It helps a lot if your host is compatible with WordPress and has an easy WordPress installer.
Free Web Hosting vs Paid Web Hosting
However, misleading as it may sound, there are hosting services that offer web hosting without any payment including a free sign up. But, why would they do this, well as you guessed there must be a catch. The catch is pretty straightforward if you pay a little attention to their offer. Although their service is free, your web pages will most likely not be free from all kinds of forced advertisements. These advertisements are where these web hosts make their money. As you can imagine, a big banner ad at the top of your page or a pop-up ad for every click through is going to hugely hamper the user friendliness of your web page. Apart from a barrage of advertising, a free hosting will offer little or no customer support, extremely unreliable uptime and poor backup and security.
Selecting a reliable host that provides quality service is a worthwhile investment that will pay huge dividends for years to come. It is important that you decide the purpose for which you are creating your website before you choose a web host, so that you know what to expect and you can make an informed decision. Good luck and we wish you all the best and hope that your relationship with your host is every bit as rewarding as your new website or blog.