You have an idea for a website. You’ve secured the best domain name. Now, all you need is to choose a hosting provider. Immediately, you Google for potential options. Instead of just picking the first provider from the search engine results, it’s important to take some time to consider the differences between hosting providers. Each host has different features, pricing, and limitations based on the plan you select. Having used many hosts over the past decade, we can unequivocally say that the research you’re doing now is well worth the time investment. Below are several things to consider when evaluating website hosting providers.
Research Customer Reviews
Before choosing a hosting provider, make sure it has a stellar reputation. You’ll find hundreds of sites that claim to provide reviews on the best hosting companies. Unfortunately, there’s little consistency between their results and sifting through them will leave you in no better a position to choose a provider.
To filter through the noise, try to identify reviews that are unbiased, authentic, and / or from actual customers. Here are a few detailed reviews and comparisons of hosting companies:
There are hundreds more comparison sites. While doing your research, don’t fret about a hosting provider based on a few negative remarks. There will always be customers who have complaints about a host. In the end, you’re really looking for consistency in the reviews. Read through the reviews to make sure what the reviewer is saying has to do with what you want from the hosting provider. From your research, you’ll likely be able to see which host makes the most sense for your needs.
Pay Attention to Technical Support Response
Server issues and website problems happen. Getting them fixed as soon as possible is incredibly important. This is why it’s crucial the hosting provider you choose responds quickly to customer inquiries. Look for providers that have chat capabilities or 24/7 telephone support such as HostGator. Avoid any host that requires you to submit a ticket and wait 24 hours for a response.
Check Web Storage Space, Bandwidth and CPU
Website hosting provider BlueHost provides unlimited storage and network transfer. However, when your site starts gaining more traffic, you’ll need to upgrade your account to their next tier. This gives you more RAM, CPU, and a lot of disk I/O. Many hosting providers have the same limitations, but it’s good to research what exactly you get with a basic account versus an upgraded plan.
Look for Email, POP3, SMTP, IMAP, Email Forwarders and Other Email Capabilities
When you set up your website, you probably want a professional email address. For example, if you have a website with the domain name gabfirethemes.com, it would be nice to have an email address of firstname.lastname@example.org. Not all hosting providers enable you to set up an email with your domain, which is why it’s important that you make sure the one you choose does have that feature. It’s also nice to have all the other email perks such as POP3, SMTP, and IMAP, which allow you to access your email from many different programs such as Gmail, Outlook or Mac’s Mail application. You can also use your smartphone, tablet, or other mobile devices. Even if you don’t think you need these features now, choose a hosting provider that has them will let you change your mind later.
Check E-commerce Options
Do you want to sell products or services? If so, you’re life could be much easier if you choose a hosting provider that has a shopping cart you can use as well as a SSL (Secure Socket Layer) for security when people use their credit card to pay you. BlueHost has e-commerce services including the shopping cart and credit card processing with SSL certificates which allow you to sell products online. This is especially useful if you’re interested in running an affiliate site.
Start with an Easy to Use Control Panel
A control panel allows you to get behind the scenes of your website to make changes. You’ll be able to upload files, change passwords for your hosting account, and manage databases. Most hosting providers have a control panel for you to use, but not all of them are user friendly.
Check for One Click WordPress Installer
WordPress is one of the most popular website design platforms. People use it for their blog and their whole site. HostGator has a one click WordPress installer which greatly expedites website development for those that plan on running multiple sites.
Consider Access to Website Tools
Adding a blog, CMS, galleries and forums are great for engagement on your website. A hosting provider with these website tools already available will save you a lot of time and money. iPage has these features, so you may want to look into that company as a potential web hosting provider.
Look for Budget Friendly Prices
Like many products and services, you get what you pay for. Don’t choose the cheapest hosting provider, but don’t choose the most expensive one either. You can find ones that have exactly what you need for your website without busting your budget. Consider the features described here, choose what is most important to you, and then shop around for a hosting provider with the best price.
As much as you want to get your website up and running, take your time choosing a hosting provider. With comparison shopping, you’ll end up with hosting that will make you and your website’s visitors happy. If you’ve had a great experience with a specific host, let us know in the comments below.