There are many factors to consider when choosing the best hosting service for your site, including:
- Storage space
- Supported web programming languages, and other technical considerations
What Are You Looking For in a Web Host?
Before choosing an Internet hosting service, it’s important to assess your company’s needs. Security and uptime are chief concerns, but site owners that fail to consider factors such as required bandwidth and storage space often end up paying for extra services they won’t utilize, or purchasing a web hosting plan that’s too limited for their traffic base and storage needs. Your choice of web hosts may also be limited by the web programming languages the hosting services offer, as well as the geographical locations in which the host maintains servers.
Amount of Available Web Space
If you’re seeking hosting for a small blog consisting mostly of text and a few photo and video uploads, you’ll have little need for hundreds of gigabytes of storage space. Choose a web hosting package with a small amount of storage space, and upgrade later if necessary. The best hosting services facilitate this by offering seamless scalability for sites that wish to upgrade to the next package, as well as additional bandwidth that can be paid for by the gigabyte each month as an add-on to an existing package.
Data Transfer and Bandwidth
For most sites, bandwidth limitations are more important considerations than storage limitations. The proliferation of wireless Internet is constantly increasing the amount of overall online traffic, which can lead to higher-than-expected bandwidth requirements even for smaller sites.
Don’t trust a web hosting service offering an “unlimited bandwidth” plan. Virtually all hosting services have concrete bandwidth limitations, and a quick perusal of the fine print will usually indicate that you, the site owner, will be responsible for the costs of exceeding these limitations. Never use a lowball estimate to determine the bandwidth your site requires, especially if it’s heavy on photos and video. A hosting service with barely enough bandwidth can become very bogged down and slow during peak hours. Bandwidth costs have dropped considerably in recent years – a whopping 150 GB of monthly bandwidth can be had for around $30 per month from a shared hosting provider.
Reliability and Security
Before choosing an Internet hosting service, assess their reliability by asking for their guaranteed uptime percentages for each plan they provide. Web hosting services that don’t commit to certain uptime figures may not reliably host your site, leading to downtime that can damage both your traffic levels and search engine ranking.
View the security page of any web hosting service you’re considering. The host should offer 128-bit SSL certificate encryption for all data transfers, as well as file transfer security measures such as Secure File Transfer Protocol (SFTP). If you purchase a shared web hosting service, ensure that your IP address isn’t shared with an excessive number of spammer sites. This too can damage your search engine rankings and potentially compromise security. Check out all about vps hosting.
If your site will require frequent file transfers, such as audio and video media downloads, consider investing in an Internet hosting service with FTP packages. Some web hosting providers even allow you to purchase a standalone FTP service without a standard hosting account, facilitating file transfers while omitting services such as email, control panels and scripting languages. This can cut costs considerably. However, most website that require FTP services also require a more fully-featured hosting account as well. Look for a web hosting service that allows you to purchase an FTP package and a standard hosting package simultaneously.
Can You Upgrade Easily When the Time Comes?
High quality web hosting services understand the importance of scalability, and allow you to seamlessly upgrade your services when necessary. This may occur as your traffic levels increase, which calls for additional bandwidth, or as you add more content to your site, which requires additional hosted storage space.
Avoid sites that require an excessive amount of downtime during a hosting service package upgrade. Your hosting service should be willing to work with you to determine the best times for mandatory downtime for service upgrades and other maintenance.
Secure HTTPS Connections
Secure HTTPS connections can be beneficial in that they allow you to use a secure channel over an otherwise insecure network. However, they’re more of a last-resort consideration for those seeking a quality web hosting service, since the host’s network should be secured already through SSL encryption.
PHP, Perl and Other Languages
Unless you’re already locked into a certain web programming language, it’s best to choose a web hosting service that supports several languages, such as PHP, Perl and Ruby. Each of these web programming languages offer their own advantages and disadvantages for example:
- Ruby offers the cleanest code, making it easy to debug finished code and remember code strings for future use. Many programming experts also find Ruby to be the best choice for object-oriented programming, or OOP.
- PHP is advantageous for sites looking to make web apps quickly. The code readability is nearly as easy as with Ruby programming, and the tools for creating web apps are easily implemented and simplified compared to those found in other languages.
- Perl is arguably the most powerful web programming language overall, though it may be unnecessary for many sites. Very few web programmers are Perl experts, and the ones that are command higher salaries than those of PHP and Ruby programmers, potentially increasing your costs. Perl can be difficult in terms of syntax, and requires heavy commenting when shared with other programmers.
htaccess configurability, offered by some web hosting services, provides you with greater site customization by allowing you to uniquely configure error pages on your site or enhance security, such as preventing bandwidth theft. Today, most quality web hosting services off htaccess as a standard feature.
The monthly or yearly cost of the web hosting service package you choose depends mainly on three factors:
- Monthly bandwidth allotments.
- Total online storage space.
- Whether the service represents shared or dedicated (sometimes called “business”) hosting
In many cases, your service levels will increase exponentially as you choose more expensive packages. For example, a hosting service with 1.5 GB of storage space and 35 GB of bandwidth costs around $10 per month, while $20 per month gets you 5 GB of storage and 100 GB of bandwidth. The cost doubles while the services are tripled.
Some hosting services offer discounts for those who choose to pay for a full year instead of by the month. Other discounts are available for those who choose shared hosting instead of dedicated hosting, in which you’ll share an IP address with other sites.