The Ultimate Guide to Choosing a Hosting Provider

 

 

You need a website. You have a clear idea of what you want, and have carefully considered the type of website hosting you need.

Now, with credit card in hand, it’s time to decide which company to sign up with.

Choosing a hosting provider is one of the most crucial decisions you’ll make. The future of your website depends on it.

If you were looking for a babysitting service for your children, you wouldn’t just pick the cheapest option that came along. “Leave your kids with us for just 50c a day.

Pick them up whenever.” Your kids mean more to you than that. You’d want to make sure they were safe, and being looked after by people who know what they’re doing.

Saving money isn’t your priority; investing in their well-being is.

Invest some time up front in the future well-being of your website. Who should you pay to host your website? What are the qualities you need in a hosting company?

Here are six key criteria to consider when weighing up the options.

Do you remember the last time you bought a new laptop? You immediately noticed the improvement in performance, and the old one suddenly felt surprisingly slow.

Fast is good. You want a hosting company with the equivalent of a new laptop.

First impressions are everything. You don’t want new visitors to your site to leave before your home page loads.

How committed is the hosting company to performance? It requires an ongoing investment in both hardware and software.
Work through this Performance Checklist when evaluating a hosting provider:

Servers on multiple continents. A closer connection is faster. If your site has visitors from around the world, servers on multiple continents will ensure the fastest connection time for everyone.

A CDN (content delivery network) is designed to decrease latency by having a network of proxy servers around the world. Many companies provide paid CDNs, and some offer them for no additional charge.

Work through this Performance Checklist when evaluating a hosting provider:

Servers on multiple continents. A closer connection is faster. If your site has visitors from around the world, servers on multiple continents will ensure the fastest connection time for everyone.

A CDN (content delivery network) is designed to decrease latency by having a network of proxy servers around the world. Many companies provide paid CDNs, and some offer them for no additional charge.

Servers with SSDs rather than spinning hard drives will load your website faster.

HTTP/2 is the future of the internet, and is here now. It’s around ten times faster than the original HTTP. Make sure it is supported by your host.

It’s not always easy to tell how often a company upgrades its hardware, or how much money they invest in it. Here are some ways you might find out:

Review the company’s blog for hardware and software upgrade announcements.
When your website is down, it reflects badly on your business, and you may lose money. If hackers gain access to your site and install malware, not only will you infect your visitor’s computers, but Google will display an embarrassing message warning of the threat.

How committed is the company to maintaining your website’s stability and reliability? In today’s climate of hacking, what is the company doing to keep your site secure?

Hackers can gain access by taking advantage of security vulnerabilities in the software you are using. So you need a web host who proactively keep their software up to date so these vulnerabilities are patched.

The company should also take additional steps to ensure the security of your website.

Work through this Security Checklist when evaluating a hosting provider:

 

Bad things happen to websites. Like anything else on a computer, backups are essential. They make disasters less disastrous.

Work through this Backup Checklist when evaluating a hosting provider:
Web servers are like any other computer. Programs crash, things go wrong, and you need to restart. On a web server this will take your website down. You need a hosting company that can minimize the impact.

Here’s what normally happens when something goes wrong with a web server:

How can you find out about the effectiveness of a hosting company’s monitoring system? Check their website and blog, or ask their pre-sales reps. Hosts with good monitoring systems don’t hesitate to share how they do it.

You’re caught up in building your website. Time has stopped, and you’re absorbed in the creative process. Everything is coming together… until you hit a roadblock. Something has gone wrong, or you’re not sure how to take the next step. It’s almost midnight. What do you do? Who do you turn to?

Work through this Support Checklist when evaluating a hosting provider:

It’s common for people to work on websites outside of normal 9-5 business hours. You need help when you need help, whatever the time. You need someone who will listen to your problem, know what to do about it, and be able to communicate with you in a friendly, understandable, and human way. You need excellent support.

A hosting company must provide the software and infrastructure necessary to run your website and content management system. They should also offer features that support the way you prefer to work, whether that is geeky or down-to-earth. And any limits they place on your hosting plan must not be too constrictive for what you want to achieve with your website.

Work through this Features Checklist when evaluating a hosting provider:

You need a company you can trust. One that cares about your needs, and aren’t in it just for the money. A helpful company that’s easy to deal with, not one that’s trying to sell you something at every turn. A company that is open and transparent, and not trying to trick you. A company that won’t leave you with regrets.

Providing fast, reliable, secure hosting costs money. Paying a reasonable price is an investment in your own website by strengthening the company who is hosting it.

Paying for a premium product can even feel good!

 

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