Website hosting is vital to your website. Without hosting your site will not be visible to anyone online. There are many hosting options but not all of them are suitable for everyone. Different websites will have different requirements such as storage and levels of traffic.
Types of hosting and plans
While there are many different plans offered by thousands of companies across the world they will fall into roughly the same categories. They will start at free hosting, basic hosting, business & eCommerce hosting, and maybe WordPress hosting. There are even options dedicated to hosting Minecraft games online and you can visit FortuneLords.com to see some.
Apart from the plans, there are also different types of hosting to make things even more complicated. There is shared hosting, VPS hosting, cloud-based hosting, dedicated server hosting, colocation, and managed to host. Here is a brief description of the main 3 types:
With shared hosting, your website is hosted on a server along with many other websites for different companies and individuals. Because everything on the server is shared these hosting plans come in less expensive than others and are usually chosen by small businesses and blogs. There is concern among some web professionals that shared hosting can affect search engine rankings. For instance, if your website was hosted on the same server as gambling sites then this might affect your own rankings. It is debatable how much this can affect other sites but maybe something to consider.
This is a step up from shared hosting and lets a website admin have more control over the site. The site is still in a shared space but the VPS hosting allows for more customization and storage. Due to being on a shared space the efficiency of your site can be affected by surges in traffic to other sites on the server.
Dedicated server hosting
This type of hosting will give you far more control over the server than VPS or shared hosting. Your website is the sole site on the server. You can therefore control everything from the operating system to the security. However, the downside is that you will have to pay far more for using a dedicated server and will need a high level of technical knowledge.
What problems should you be aware of when purchasing your hosting plan?
Whether you choose shared hosting or a dedicated server is likely to depend on your budget, the volume of traffic, and your own technical expertise in managing hosting and servers. Here are some of the main problems you are likely to come across if you choose the wrong plan:
High renewal fees
Some hosts offer a good starting price. You may see offers as low as $12 for a domain name and 12 months of hosting. The problem lies when you try to renew the following year and it has now gone up to $50. Check the small print before grabbing an offer that may be too good to be true.
Poor or non-existent customer service
If you choose free hosting then you get what you pay for but sometimes even paid for hosting plans don’t provide the service you expected. Customer service is very important for you when placing your website on a host. If the site goes down or has a technical problem then you want to know that your ticket is going to be answered swiftly and the problem resolved. Saving a few bucks while trading off good customer service is a false economy. If your site goes down you will lose visitors and if you are running a company then that means money lost.
Bandwidth and storage
Shared storage will be slower than a dedicated server. If you are running a blog or small business then the bandwidth allocated to you may be adequate but if your site runs too slow then you will end up with a high bounce rate which will affect your Google rankings.
Storage is also an important area to look at. Purchasing a cheap plan with limited storage may be regretted quickly if your site grows. Check that the plan is upgradable in case you grow faster than expected. Remember that over time your site will naturally get bigger as more content is added to keep it relevant and up to date. You could consider cloud-based hosting as this is completely scalable and can suit growing websites.
Too much downtime
Most websites go down from time to time so it isn’t unusual. Sometimes you will take the site down to perform your own updates or perhaps the host will have to take it down for server maintenance. Your Google ranking should not be affected by normal downtime but if this becomes regular and lengthy then it could potentially harm your Google ranking. Also, customers may lose faith in your site if they repeatedly visit only to find the site unavailable.
Security and encryption
If you are running an eCommerce business then you want visitors to know your site is secure. If the host doesn’t have SSL certificates then the URL bar will display ‘not secure’ and your visitors are unlikely to want to insert their credit card details into a site that informs them of that. SSL certificates encrypt data and make sure the traffic between the buyer and server are safe.
Hopefully, the worst will never happen but disasters do sometimes strike. If the unthinkable does happen and your website is lost then you will want to replace it as fast as possible. Finding out that your host doesn’t perform regular backups could be more than a little disappointing.
What options you choose will largely depend on your budget and the purpose of your site. If it is a portfolio or blog then shared hosting on a basic plan will suffice. If you are running an online shop that receives a high level of traffic then you may want to look at dedicated servers depending on your turnover. Whatever option you choose you will want good customer service, high bandwidth, and the ability to upscale your site as and when it becomes necessary.