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How to Choose a Web Host – Web Hosting Guide

Why choosing the right Web Host is important

Whether you are creating a personal or business website, you should bear in mind that your choice of web host is paramount to the success of your website; hence, choose wisely. The reason is that you will certainly want your website to reach the largest marketplace and be viewable to as many people as possible. In order to achieve that feat, it is necessary to take your time to find out some basic but very significant factors that can guarantee more visibility to your site.

Factors to consider when selecting web hosting

Today, there is a variety of web hosting providers and packages in the industry. Each of them comes with their peculiar benefits and risks. So, how do you decide the best one among them? Even after you have eventually chosen a particular provider, you still have to pick the hosting package that will be suitable for you. Every web hosting site provides a variety of packages that you can choose from. The most common type is the ‘Unlimited Bandwidth’ package.

The following hints will serve as a guide for choosing the most suitable web hosting for you.

1. Server Uptime and Customer Support:

The primary condition for a website to be found on the internet is that the server that stores the file should be online. That is, it must be active at any point in time. You may have observed that the majority of web hosting providers claim 99.99% server uptime. Some of them even claim 100%. You can probe further by searching for comments made by users of such providers on internet forums or somewhere else. Alternatively, you can opt for large and reputable hosting companies, if you want to be on the safe side.

Most great hosting companies provide multiple server data and power backups. Some of them even offer 100% uptime with a money-back guarantee in case of any failure on their part. In addition to uptime, customer support is another essential feature of a good web hosting provider. 24/7 phone and internet support should be available to customers. There should be a nice collection of FAQs and tutorials on their website for customers who need urgent help. Please note that you will call your web hosting provider for support more often than you think, especially if you really care for your website.

2. Pricing and accompanying features

There are numerous pricing and other accompanying features in web hosting packages. Your desire should be a blend of features and quality to meet your specific needs. Generally, cheap products do not really have as high quality as more expensive ones. Nevertheless, there are some expensive products whose qualities do not correspond to their prices. The price of a hosting package is mainly dependent on the features that come with it. The features include: bandwidth limits and data storage, number of email and FTP accounts hosted, number of domains and subdomains allowed, virtual, shared or dedicated server plans, site tools, shopping carts, programming languages and databases, and a host of other features.

You may be confused about choosing from the various options listed above, especially if you are not acquainted with them. You need not worry; we are going to discuss the important ones in the next paragraph.

The price of a fair value shared hosting package is around US$ 6-8 per month. Virtual Private/Dedicated Server goes for US$ 30-50 per month, while Dedicated Servers pricing is around US$ 60-80 per month.

Pricing tip: If you have no domain name, or you want to acquire another one, you can get some packages that include a free domain with hosting. Such an option can reduce your cost.

3. Data Storage and Bandwidth limits:

If you have not had the experience of creating and managing a website, you might not be aware of the amount of data storage and bandwidth your site will require. You need not worry about this. Even experts do get confused about the required storage and bandwidth. Note that the more visitors you get, the more your needs grow. So, you will become familiar with it as time goes on.

Data Storage Space:

Hosting packages will be sufficient for you unless you plan to host numerous movie/video clips or a huge amount of big resolution pictures. Typically, the average website occupies less than 50MB (megabytes storage space). The top registrar sells the standard shared hosting package, which includes 10 GB (1000 MB) of storage space, for $4.99 per month.

Bandwidth Limits:

Bandwidth limit refers to the amount of data your hosting allows you to transfer per month. It depends on some factors, including the number of visitors to your site, the different types of files you serve like video clips, pictures, and basic web pages. Regular websites may not require some of these features. Many hosting providers offer unlimited bandwidth on the value shared packages.

If you intend to host video/movie clips or high-resolution pictures, do not be deceived by the offer of ‘Unlimited Bandwidth Shared Hosting Package’ dangled before you. If you take the time to read through their “Terms of Use” as well as “Common Usage Policy,” you will likely see a clause that restricts your usage of the bandwidth. The section will warn that you will be charged for “abnormally high data bandwidth usage”. It is advisable that you choose any of VPS, Cloud hosting, dedicated server, or bandwidth packages.

VPS hosting prices vary from $30 to $150 per month, depending on the features that can last for up to a year. Note that the longer the duration of the contract, the lower the price of the hosting package.

4. Shared Hosting vs. Virtual Private Server vs. Dedicated Server vs. Cloud Hosting

How do you choose between the above options? Your choice should be based on how popular or busy you expect your site to be, using the order below:

Shared- VPS- Dedicated- Cloud

Shared Hosting: shared hosting is the cheapest and most common package used by most of the websites on the internet. It is the best option for small and personal websites. In shared hosting, about 10 to 100 hosting accounts are hosted on a single physical server. They use the same storage and broadband connection.

Shared hosting is suitable for personal and commercial websites from small to medium websites that do not host movies, pictures, or video downloads. The price goes for about $5 to $15 per month.

Virtual Private Servers: This is a hosting package that is mainly used by medium websites that have medium bandwidth and storage requirements. Virtual Private Servers are hosted on distinct IP addresses (for example, 192.150.1.9). Their features are similar to dedicated physical stand-alone servers, though they are cheaper than dedicated servers. This package works in such a way that multiple accounts like 3 to 10 are hosted on a single physical server. Each of the accounts is allocated its distinct IP address, host id, data storage, and bandwidth which are differentiated from each other by software.

Dedicated Server:

This type of server is commonly used by medium and big websites that require bandwidth and storage suited to their requirements. They are hosted on a distinct physical server. The server is rented out to them, and they have full control over it with its address, RAM, hard disk and bandwidth.

Factors that determine the price of renting a dedicated server include the capacity of the hard disk, the amount of RAM, the processor version, and the broadband connection. Prices range from $65 to $200 or more per month.

Cloud Hosting:

This is a relatively new phenomenon in the web hosting industry. Cloud hosting is literally the future of web hosting. It uses numerous servers located in different locations linked to each other, instead of using a single physical server.

The major benefits of cloud hosting are cost-efficiency and scalability factors. Larger websites enjoy more benefits. As the capacity of a website increases, all it needs is to add another server to the networked group of servers. The prices of cloud hosting packages range from $100 to $550 or more depending on the bandwidth and storage requirements.

5. Addon Domains & Subdomains

Addon Domains are the domain names that you intend to host with your hosting provider. If you want to host an additional website, you must choose a package that allows that. Most of the cheap web hosting packages do not allow more than one site. Examples of addon domains are: “http://www.yoursite1.com,” “http://www.mysite2.com”. You can host all these with your hosting provider.

Subdomains:

Subdomains are additional directories that you may want to create. The package you choose will determine the number of subdomains that you are allowed to create. Examples of subdomains are: “http://directory1.yoursite.com”, or “http://directory2.yoursite.com”. Subdomains should not be confused with folders such as “http://www.yoursite.com/folder1”, “http://www.yoursite.com/folder2”. Folders have no limit.

6. Email and FTP accounts

Email accounts: An email account is a special email account for your website, e.g., “name@yoursite.com”. You can create an email account and give your family, friends, visitors, customers, or anyone you expect to communicate with, using the email. Most of the hosting packages will provide you with as many email accounts as you want; so you need not worry about the number of email accounts you will get.

FTP Accounts:

FTP is an acronym for “File Transfer Protocol”. The primary function of FTP accounts is to enable you to access your hosting files from web software. FTP is beneficial to webmasters because, they can use it to update, create, or delete new files and folders in their host directly from FTP software and web design software. You need not worry here too because most packages will provide you with more than 10 FTP accounts. You can allot them to your co-workers, designers, and friends.

7. Programming Languages and Databases

Frontpage Server Extension, PHP5, Custom PHP.ini, Python CGI, Perl w/FASTCGI, Java, ColdFusion, Ruby CGI, Ruby on Rails, MySQL (Unix), MySQL (Win), MsAccess, etc.

The above is a list of programming databases and software your hosting server use for advanced web features, such as user management, automated content management, running scripts and programs, and a host of others. If you can’t comprehend them, you don’t need to bother about it. However, most of the packages come with the standard databases and languages that you would need when you want to use them.

8. Content Management, Blogs, Forums

Joomla, Drupal, Mambo, Moodle, Nucleas, WordPress, Lifetype, Geeklog, SMF, Serendipity, phpBB, Vanilla Forum, etc.

The above ready-made tools are used for creating and managing forums, blogs, and content to enhance web appearance and interface. They are included in most of the hosting packages.

9. Website Tools, Marketing Tools, Shopping Cart Website Tools

Website Tools: Website Builder, FrontPage Extensions, Google Custom Search, Web Analytics Tools, Google Webmaster Tools, etc.

These tools are used to create websites, measure website statistics and popularity, and enhance the user interface. They are included in most hosting packages.

Marketing Tools: $50 Google AdWords Credit, Yahoo! Search Marketing Credit- $25, Facebook Ads Credit- $50, and more.

The above-listed tools are Ads Credit that you can use to advertise your site. They are very useful if included in the package.

Shopping Cart– This is an essential tool for those who want to sell products online. They are included in most packages.

10. Web Hosting Tips for great SEO

The location of a server is one of the criteria you must put into consideration when choosing a web host. A good location improves Search Engine Optimization (SEO).

Search engines mostly favor websites that are hosted locally when a search is made. Google and other big search engines prioritize locally hosted sites on their pages. For instance, if you want your site to rank higher in Australia, having a web hosting server that is situated in Australia will give you an added advantage over others situated outside.

A domain name or Regional TLD is another factor that enhances SEO in local search rankings. For example, in the UK, domains.co.uk or .org.uk are given preference over others without UK domain names.

Meanwhile, it is worthy of note that shared hosting can hurt a website’s SEO rankings. For instance, your site will be affected if it shares the same server and IP address with another one that has been blacklisted by Google. To avoid such a situation, you should host your site(s) on a different IP address, which is a dedicated server or a Virtual Private Server.

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