Choosing the right web hosting company can be overwhelming for small business owners. In this digital era, one of the important things the new business owners are told to do is to have a website. By having a website, your business is accessible to a far wider community. Your website is a living breathing organism of your business online. It is like 24/7 Sales Person for your business.
Next comes the headache of choosing the right web hosting company for your website. There are thousands of web hosting companies. So how a small business owner or the CEO of a startup company choose the right one for his business?
Are you one of those struggling with choosing a web host? Then this article is for you!
Before choosing your web hosting service, it is important to understand what kind of service your website needs, the kind of server you or your business needs, your budget, and what type of services the web host offers.
There are various types of web hosting plans are offered, such as shared hosting, dedicated server hosting, etc.
Let’s look at the most popular/ widely used ones.
Shared hosting is basic, widely used, because as a small business owner, that comes cheaper.Hosting companies regularly use this hosting method to run hundreds to thousands of domains on a single server. All these sites are fed from the same RAM, and other hardware resources. Since numerous customers are paying for the same server usage, the cost is shared and that’s how it becomes affordable for any start ups.
You can always upgrade to VPS or dedicated hosting in the later stage when your site grows bigger.
Dedicated server hosting
With this hosting plan, you get a dedicated server to host your website. It is not shared with any other users. This is the recommended for larger websites with lots of visitors (traffic). The user gets complete control over that server and your site is more secure, and it will perform better because your site is the only one on it.
It is costlier, but since you’ do not share resources, you have all the disk space, RAM, and bandwidth to yourself.
This allows for faster performance, as you have all the server’s resources entirely, without sharing with other website owners.
If you want to go dedicated you’ll need a server admin or sufficient knowledge to do it yourself.
Please mind, with great flexibility comes great control.
Virtual private server (VPS) hosting
This is like a mashup of shared and dedicated hosting.
Recommended for more advanced users, and those needing to install specific packages or software not provided by shared hosting. Your website is placed on a server with other websites, like shared hosting, but usually, there’s less number of websites per server. Also includes root or admin access to its own operating system installation in a virtualized environment.
Virtualization software is key here as the host uses a hypervisor that allows each individual client to have their own virtual server. It’s like your own little VM running on the web.
The hypervisor is the one responsible for managing the virtual machines that create this separation within the server.
From a flexibility standpoint, it’s like having a dedicated server at a lower cost.
Cloud hosting is essentially the same as VPS hosting. Some companies don’t even call their service VPS anymore, they say Cloud or Cloud VPS.
Cloud based hosting allows you to use the resources of multiple servers in a network.
So choose your hosting plan wisely based on your website needs.
I have always gone for shared hosting and works fine for me.
Bandwidth is the measure of maximum data that can be transferred by your hosting account in a given time, usually measured in seconds.
Thus, bandwidth is the rate of data transfer. Data transfer refers to the consumption of bandwidth. In layman terms, the amount of data being transferred is ‘data transfer’; while the rate of data being transferred is ‘bandwidth’. The amount of data transferred will depend on the number of visitors to the site and the file sizes of web pages (including multimedia files).
Network bandwidth is usually expressed in bits per second – bps. For example, Broadband (Cable & DSL) bandwidth capacity ranges from 512 Kbps to 1.5 Mbps and Fibre Optic Cables 100s of Mbps to Gbps.
Your site will load faster if you have more bandwidth.
Data transfer and bandwidth limit used to be a big thing when it comes to choosing a good web host in the past. Not now anymore. As the average cost of data transfer go lower and lower, hosting companies nowadays are very generous in term of data transfer limit. By unlimited bandwidth, they mean that for the average user it really is unlimited since they will never reach the limit.
Disk space is the amount of data you can store on the web server. Obviously, the amount of space needed depends on the size of your website. Most websites are composed of HTML (text), images, Flash, or a combination of all.
In my opinion 5 GB to 10 GB should be enough for most small to medium businesses. Most hosting providers offer 10 Gb disk space.
The uptime is the time duration your site is accessible to users. Look for a minimum 99% while 99.9% uptime guarantee is a crucial necessity.
There are several Free website monitoring services and tools are available to check the uptime. One among them is pingdom.
Your website should be run on a server behind a firewall.
Check whether they offer SSL(secure server) for your plan. SSL certificates are digital certificates which are used to establish a secure encrypted connection between a browser and a server (website). The SSL connection protects sensitive data, such as credit card information, exchanged during online transactions.
If you’re going to have an online store, and you’re planning on taking payments YOURSELF you need SSL. If you’re using a payment gateway, you may not need it. Most hosts offer it as part of the package.
Check what operating system the server is using. The industry standard is Linux, but if you are running a business that uses custom tools written with Microsoft .NET, you’ll want to make sure you use a Windows server for greater compatibility.
You will want to have an email with your domain name. Most hosting companies give you the option to host your own email (email@example.com). But, it’s always better to check and be sure of it.
A control panel, in web hosting, is a web-based interface provided by the hosting company that allows customers to manage various services from the comfort of a web browser.
With cPanel you are able to accomplish your tasks faster. Even non-professionals can easily set their websites via cPanel.
Web hosting control panel may provide access to:
- Domain name system management (web domains, mail domains, etc.)
- Email system management (email addresses, email quotas, etc.)
- FTP management (user accounts, password management, file system quotas)
- Web-based file system access
- SSH user/key management
- Database management
- Backup management
- Log file access and reporting
- Plugin system for configuring additional services and installing apps (e.g., WordPress)
- Details of available and used web space and bandwidth
A user-friendly and functional hosting control panel is very, very important. Many web hosts offer cPanel as part of shared hosting plans to simplify account management and provide a range of helpful tools.
Getting customer support is very important for anyone. The support system offered must be multi-dimensional and most web hosting providers offer
- Telephone support
- Online life chat
- Email assistance
Their response time for technical queries is crucial. Make sure that they have a solid support department in-house and hasn’t been out-sourced to another company or country.
My web hosting company – Exabytes Malaysia
Last but not least, I’d also like to share with you why I chose Exabytes as my web host provider. I wanted to be absolutely certain that I’ll get excellent support.
There are things that international hosting providers can’t offer. Contacting your local hosting provider is so much easier and cheaper than if you were to make international calls. While some international providers do have live chat services, like most people I prefer to speak to someone when faced with major hosting challenges.
Also, I am more comforted by the thought that I could always visit my local hosting provider’s office in times of need.
I’ve been Exabytes’s client for a few years now, and no complain so far. They conduct free workshops on social media, lead generation, etc which goes to show that they care about their clients’ successes in the digital world.
They also conduct yearly Malaysia Website Awards program to recognise the talent of the designers and agencies in the country.
So instead of finding the best web host in the world; my advice will be to find the RIGHT web host for your hosting needs.
Don’t miss to visit my Free Tools Link Library!
You will end up with more treasures! Links to test website performance, website speed and website uptime!