As Cyber Monday draws closer, all of us are looking for great deals online. But many people don’t realize that this is the perfect time to choose the proper web hosting; many providers are offering some sort of discounted price. But even though you’ll encounter some great deals; it’s still important to know what to look for.
What’s crucial in a hosting provider?
Many people say that excellent hosting can be summed up in a 4 S principle: security, support, speed, and perhaps most importantly – being equipped to handle long-term scalability. While we’ll take a look at the specifics of these principles below, the gist of it is the fact that you need a stable hosting environment which allows proper scaling; you need to be resilient to sudden high traffic bursts, while also being able to handle sustainable growth.
When it comes to the investment you’ll have to make in hosting, it all depends on what kind of service you expect. But as a small business owner, you can expect the costs for virtual private server hosting to set you back about $100 each month; though there are other options as well.
What kind of service do you expect?
As you start browsing hosting offers, one of the first things that you’ll have to consider whether you expect any hand-holding from your provider – and how much of it. In other words, what level of customer service do you require? The basic packages give access to phone, ticket and email support. However, the turnaround time will vary depending on what kind of provider you have. For example, some will offer round-the-clock phone support, while others will have a more limited offering. If you get a non-managed hosting package, you can expect to communicate questions regarding basic configuration with your provider; but they won’t act as your systems manager.
Naturally, you might expect that managed hosting requires you to spend a lot of money. However, if you search long enough – you’ll find that there are cheap, and even free options out there. Here are a couple of such services we’ve come across. Among the advantages of such hosting providers are less budgetary concerns; when you find a free hosting provider, you have less to worry about in terms of finances. One thing is certain – if you want your website management to be delegated to your hosting provider, search long and hard before you settle on one choice.
Estimate Your Traffic Well
Speaking of the prices for hosting; remember that most providers tend to charge based on the bandwidth usage and storage space. So, what is bandwidth in terms of web hosting? Basically, this is a metric that shows the number of bytes served by your website over a specific time period. If you don’t expect a lot of traffic on your website, you won’t need a lot of bandwidth. On the other hand, if your product or service goes viral, or you plan on showing up on the first Google page for your keyword; make sure to predict the increase in bandwidth needs.
As long as you evaluate this correctly from the start, there won’t be a lot of risk in this regard. If you’re a local company that does not serve people beyond its limited area; you’re not likely to hit any limits. On the other hand, if you plan on building a heavily-visited website; bear in mind that you’ll need higher bandwidth limits.
Before you can choose the best hosting package, you need to understand the different types of servers that your website may be hosted on. Firstly, we’ve got the shared servers – this is the absolute cheapest option when it comes to hosting. In other words, you’re choosing this kind of server, you’ll basically be getting one physical box that’s running potentially hundreds of websites.
While you may not notice this at all, know that your performance will also depend on the traffic served by other websites on the same server. Thus, if they are handling a bigger load of traffic, you may experience downtime or delays. Also, a shared server will limit your website capabilities; like only being able to upload files using SFTP or FTP, as well as restrictions in terms of the programs you can run, or limited shell access.
Next up, you’ve got the virtual private servers. This amounts to an instance on a simulated computer – a virtual machine. This is also a kind of shared hosting, as this ultimately runs on a box that may be powering multiple VPS instances at once. Still, the performance is, in most cases, better than shared hosting at the base level. VPS hosting also requires you to do some of the management and maintenance, if you don’t get an all-inclusive hosting service.
Finally, if you’re not keen on depending on other websites for your performance, think about getting a dedicated server. This is a physical box that’s exclusively rented to your website; one that you’ll have entirely for yourself. Though, expect to do (or hire someone to do) all of the system management on this one.
These days, cloud hosting is also an option. These are servers that run via huge public clouds, such as Microsoft Azure or Amazon Web Services. Such huge providers are able to construct any kind of configuration that their customers require. And one of the biggest advantages of such a hosting service is the fact that scaling is basically seamless. Anytime you need to handle a bigger amount of traffic, you just pay more money to your provider; nothing needs to be physically rebuilt or moved.
As you can see, there are quite a few things to consider as you choose the proper web hosting. Lastly, we’d also advise you to steer clear of unlimited offers; especially if you supposedly get unlimited bandwidth and storage for just a couple of bucks. That kind of deal is definitely not transparent; the terms of service are likely quite restrictive, and you’ll want to have a look at them before paying any money.