How to Find the Best Web Hosting Service: Five Key Factors to Consider
If you are ready to take that critical step to create a website and leverage the internet to establish a presence, rest assured that there are plenty of companies in the market to provide the services needed to help make it all happen. Whether your plans involve furthering a hobby, starting up a small business, or migrating your successful brick and mortar store online, there are more than enough suitors to choose from. Now if only finding a good web hosting service wasn’t such a challenge.
The service provider you partner up with can make a tremendous difference in whether or not you are able to succeed with your online efforts. How can you sell products or services to your target audience if technical problems have knocked your store offline? How can you provide a satisfactory level of customer support if the company you are paying for service isn’t supporting you? Without a reliable partner to back you up, it will be very difficult.
Because finding a quality web hosting service can be a chore, we have composed a guide containing six key factors that need to be considered in order to secure the best solution for you.
1. Your Needs
There is much that must be taken into account when seeking the best web hosting service, and it all starts with assessing your needs. So what are your plans? Do you need a website to share information with a local audience, host a portfolio of your work to attract new clients, or maintain a storefront that allows you to capitalize on the e-commerce phenomenon? This factor deserves attention first because it will help you determine the features you require, and which company is best suited to provide them. Skip this important step and you could end up very disappointed.
2. Type of Hosting
Once you have determined what you need in terms of your website, the next logical step is to determine what type of web hosting you require. Thanks to the slew of niche offerings that have been introduced over the years, the market has expanded to the point of there being too many types to count on both hands. For this reason, we will focus on the three main options currently available to you: shared, VPS, and dedicated hosting.
Shared hosting is the most common variation of web hosting on the market. It is also the cheapest as you can easily find plans going for less than $10 per month. Shared hosting makes a fine option for your first website, but keep in mind that it does come with some drawbacks. The fact that you are sharing server space with other customers means you are at the mercy of their activities, which makes your site more vulnerable to downtime caused by security breaches and mere internet traffic.
Virtual private server or VPS hosting, is the next step up from shared hosting. While it is more expensive, it is generally more secure and reliable as well. With this type of service, you have your own operating system in a virtual environment isolated from other users on the physical server, a situation that ensures better performance and a greater degree of control than you have in a shared hosting arrangement. However, since you are required to share hardware resources, VPS hosting is not equivalent to having your own server.
Dedicated hosting is a more sophisticated option that puts all the power in your hands. You lease the server from a web hosting provider, which gets you the hardware and all its resources. While the equipment is maintained in the company’s data center, you have complete administrative authority, allowing you to set your own configurations, install your own software, and ultimately create an environment that is more reliable and secure than both shared and VPS hosting. The disadvantages here are higher costs and complexity as you are responsible for handling all the server administration tasks.
As you can see, each type of hosting discussed above has its pros and cons. When deciding which is best for you, you should base the decision on how each variation can satisfy your needs, and then weigh that against their advantages and disadvantages.
3. Web Design
Although web design is very important, it is also a factor that often gets overlooked when searching for a web hosting service. Your website must actually be created before it goes live, so who is going to build it? Is it going to be you? Are you going to hire a professional web designer? Take the company up on their professional design offer? If you have no clue on how to build a website or cannot afford to enlist the services of a professional, this aspect of the game can make for a rather frustrating experience.
You will notice that most web hosting company’s offer the “free and easy to use” site builder in their packages. This is all fine and dandy, but if that site builder does not accommodate your experience level or offer the features your website requires to be successful, then it is of no use to you. This should be incentive to ask the host for some specific details about their site building software and also investigate features that may serve as viable alternatives. For example, their site builder may be lacking, but perhaps they have software such as WordPress or Joomla available that can be used to accomplish the same goal. You won’t know unless you take the initiative to find out.
4. Security and Reliability
Understanding how important these two elements are, just about every web hosting company you encounter during your search will claim to offer a secure and reliable service. This all sounds good, but you cannot take these claims at face value. Three months down the road, your website could be the victim of a breach due to the host’s lax security measures or experience excessive downtime because of an overcrowded server, neither of which is a good look for your online presence .
So how do you find out if a particular service is truly secure and reliable? Get proactive and conduct the necessary research. This can be done by taking a look at the features on the company’s website that speak to their level of security and reliability. You should also take initiative to learn more information on their data center to find out about the efforts they are making behind the scenes. For added assurance, read a few web hosting reviews on the service provider in question to see what consumers are saying about the company. You are likely to find a mix of positive and negative reviews so keep individual instances in mind when making your evaluations.
5. Customer Service and Technical Support
Finding the best web hosting solution will be impossible without placing a special emphasis on customer service and technical support. If you read a couple of reviews, you will see that the lack of support is among the biggest complaints consumers have about companies in the industry. This is something you cannot afford to overlook because the true quality of customer service and technical support is often not revealed until something goes wrong. Maybe your site has been down all day or you just have a question about how to create an email account. Whatever the issue, it can be very frustrating when no one is around to address you concerns.
Aside from reading feedback from other customers, there is really no way you can determine just how good a company will be at providing service and support without actually being a customer yourself. However, there are ways to get better idea of what you’re in for. Narrow down your list to a few companies that seem to be an ideal fit for your needs, and send them an email to see how fast and effectively they respond your questions. You can take this concept one step further by calling up their customer service or technical support line to test the knowledge and friendliness of the staff. There are no guarantees of course, but these are two ways to at least gain a peace of mind when making the final decision.
As you have learned by reading this guide, finding the best web hosting service is not as easy as it may have seemed on the surface. There is a lot that must be considered if you want to land a solution that is secure, reliable, and lives up to your expectations. What you thought was a simple decision could easily turn out to be a lengthy journey filled with many twists, turns and a little frustration to boot. This is perfectly normal. Sometimes it takes extra time and effort to find the service that best suits your needs, especially when it comes to something as important as your online presence. Once you find it, we guarantee that you will be glad you put in all the hard work.