Your website is a set of files organized into folders that need to be stored on an internet accessible hard drive. A web hosting package is essentially space rental for those files. But how do you choose the right web host for your needs?

Server Types

A hosting company houses dedicated storage computers called “servers.” Servers should be protected from power interruptions and files backed up frequently. There are 3 primary types of servers, as well as managed WordPress hosting.

Shared Servers

  • Shares storage space with other users
  • Hosts many websites on a single server
  • Access can be slower
  • Host maintains servers
  • Most affordable
  • From $5 and $15 monthly
  • Increased hacking risk

Virtual Private Servers (VPS)

  • Websites reside within individual sectors
  • Each server hosts less than 20 websites
  • A better option for higher traffic sites
  • Host maintains servers
  • From $15 to $100 monthly
  • More secure from viruses and hacking

Dedicated Servers

  • Clients lease the entire server
  • Server maintenance left to clients (updating OS, etc.)
  • From $55 monthly
  • Safest — hacking risks are greatly minimized

Managed WordPress Hosting

While this isn’t one of the classic server types, most hosts offer one-click WP installation to go along with your website and bears mentioning here.

  • Specialized for WordPress (WP) only
  • Shared or VPS
  • Host maintains servers
  • Pricing tiers from $29 monthly (determined by site traffic)

Operating System (OS) Compatibility

Most of the time we select a Linux-based operating system (typically Ubuntu) when choosing a web host. If the application we need to create requires the use of a Windows server, then we will configure that accordingly. If you’re picking out your own web host, we suggest that you select Linux and make sure that you have access to the control panel (for example, CPanel) if you’re not familiar working with terminal and command line.

Host-Specific Services

Each web host offers different services to distinguish themselves from their competition. These functions help you run your website more effectively and may include:

  • Storage Space — the amount of space you are renting on the server
  • Data Transfer Limits — the amount of data you can upload monthly
  • Email Accounts — this number should be included in the hosting package
  • File Transfer Protocol (FTP) Access — includes built-in upload capabilities
  • Customer Support — may offer phone, chat, and/or email support. Hours are usually 24/7.

Price is also a significant consideration when choosing a web host. This most commonly ranges from $3/month to $15/month or more, depending on introductory pricing, the needs of your website, server type, and features included in the package.

Conclusion

Deciding on the best web host for your needs should hinge on necessities, services offered, and reliability reviews. Pay attention to these key attributes.

  • Server: Shared, VPS, Dedicated or Managed WP?
  • OS compatibility: Ask your web developer for best results
  • Storage: Complex websites require more storage space (eCommerce, etc.)
  • Data transfer: Frequency of updates and size of files determines data necessity
  • Email: How many email accounts are needed?
  • FTP: Free FTP apps are available, if not provided
  • Customer Service: Essential when you have a question or problem
  • Customer reviews

It should also be noted that sites built with a host’s tools may not be easily moved to a different should you choose to migrate in the future.

References

Additional Reading

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