There are a number of factors to take into consideration when choosing your web hosting. Here are 7 tips and suggestions that may help you make a better decision.
The location of the host’s server may not seem that important but it does actually affect SEO. For example if you are based in the UK and your website is promoting your UK business then ideally the server that hosts your site should also be in the UK. When Google generates a search result it takes into account the server location as it believes it to be more relevant for those searching. For example if someone searched for a ‘Graphic Designer in London’ then a London based graphic designer who is hosted in the UK may fare better than his or her local competitor who is hosted in America. Of course there are many other things to take into consideration for good SEO.
So, always check where the servers are located. If it’s a large hosting company they will usually have servers in different countries but not always in the country that you need so it’s worth checking before purchasing.
The uptime of your website is very important. A lot of hosts offer 99.9% uptime but don’t actually live up to their claims. A tracking service such as Pingdom or Are My Sites Up offer a means to track the downtime of a website (an email is sent when your site goes down). Pingdom allows you to monitor one site for free or multiple sites at a small monthly fee (there are free trials too). This is a good way to see if your current host is any good and also a sneaky way of monitoring other people’s sites to see if their hosts are any good if you are looking to change. You can easily find out what host someone is using by visiting this site Who is Hosting This. Many hosts offer a 30 day money back guarentee so it could be a good idea to get a free Pingdom account during that time.
Unless you are 100% certain that your host is reliable I recommend buying your domain name from a separate company. That way if there are any problems you can just leave without the hassle of transferring your domain to a new company. Many hosts lure their customers with the incentive of a free domain but I feel it is still best to avoid this and pay a bit more. Besides they usually make you pay renewal fees and these can often be more expensive than buying from a domain specialist. I personally buy my domains from Domain Express as they are cheap and reliable.
Unfortunately it is very common for companies of all types to write fake reviews on specialist reviewing sites which makes it a poor way to gauge a companies reliability. I’m not saying that all companies do it or that all reviews are fake, I’m just saying be aware. I therefore tend to pay attention to the bad reviews as these are often more truthful (but of course these may also be written by the opposition).
Probably a better way to get opinions is by asking a question on a questions site or forum. A simple question such as ‘what UK hosts do you recommend?’ is more likely to get real answers from actual customers rather than the typical sentences seen on review sites.
Most hosts offer the ability to have My SQL databases which is essential for building sites on certain platforms such as the very popular, WordPress. Sometimes the very cheapest package doesn’t offer this, therefore if you intend to build a site using a content management system (CMS) such as WordPress or Joomla you must make sure that your hosting package comes with My SQL.
One of the main aspects of hosting that affects the price of the package is the disk space and the bandwidth. The disk space is simply how much room on the server you get for your website files. Starter packages typically offer around 1GB of storage whilst other more expensive packages offer unlimited storage. 1GB is still a lot of room and is perfectly adequate for many smaller sites. Those who blog regularly will obviously need a lot more storage.
Bandwidth is how much data can be downloaded from your site per month. Every time someone visits a website, data is downloaded to display the content such as images and text. For example, if each page contained around 5mb of data and you had 10 pages then thats 50mb. Now, if you had 10 visitors and they went to each of your 10 pages in one day, that’s already 500mb of bandwidth used in one day. This could add up quickly especially if you had a popular site. Some starter packages offer as little as 2000mb a month which may not be enough but would be adequate for a small starter site. You don’t necessarily have to pay much more for more bandwidth and some starter packages even offer unlimited monthly bandwidth at very reasonable prices.
If you have a small site then you could get free hosting from a company called ‘free virtual servers’. They offer 100mb of storage and 100mb bandwidth for free (one off set up fee of £10.99). This would be great for a very basic small website especially if you weren’t expecting too much traffic.