The quality of a web hosting service significantly affects the quality of your website and the user experience of your visitors. Web hosting influences the functionality of your website and how you can facilitate your visitors through it. It also affects how securely you and your clients can share data through the website. All these issues have to be kept in mind when selecting a web hosting company. For those who are just starting out, the selection of a web host is a crucial decision. Over the years, the number of hosting companies and the features they offer have increased exponentially.
Now that you have made a new blog or online business, you need to think about how to host it. With any type of website, you need to create a domain and a host for it. While this might seem too technical and complicated at first, it is really quite easy and simple. Over time, you will be able to differentiate between the service plans of different hosts and identify the best ones. This article explains how you can choose the best hosting service for your website or blog.
Importance of Choosing a Good Host
Choosing a good host for your website is a crucial decision. Normally, setting up an online business involves very little investment. However, there is absolutely no reason to shy away from investing in a good host for your website. A web host basically ensures that your website is up and running at all times. The host owns the server on which your website is placed and accessed by those who visit your site. A good host is important because their servers are more reliable and efficient, which is important if you want your website to deliver an exceptional experience to the visitors. Hosts that are too slow or offer limited features will reduce the appeal of your website for visitors. Hosting plans range from free, budget, to expensive; even then it is important to consider this important area of investment for the long term success of your website. Basically, there is a suitable host for every budget and client needs. So there is no reason to ignore this important area.
What is WordPress?
A lot of people have heard of WordPress before they take the plunge into blogging or website development. Few people know how useful it can be. Basically, WordPress is a content management platform that offers extremely simple tools for creating a website. Even people with absolutely no technical know-how become familiar with these tools in very limited time. An added benefit of WordPress is that it has a large network of users who form a large community to support one another. Here, you can get information about plugins as well as new themes to enhance the appearance of your website. However, WordPress is not the only content management platform available on the Internet. There are others such as Joomla or Drupal. But these are more complicated when compared to WordPress which is simple and easy to learn for amateurs.
Most of the hosting companies offer WordPress hosting as part of their services. If you sign up with one of these companies, you only need to click a button to have your very own WordPress website. That’s right! You won’t need to set up and design the website on your own. The system will simply take you through the different steps needed to set up the website. This is one of the reasons why new website creators and developers choose to sign up with a hosting company. Making and designing your own website becomes a whole lot easier and enjoyable with single click WordPress installation that these companies offer.
Identifying Your Web Hosting Needs
The next step in selecting a web host for your site is identifying your needs and matching them to what is offered by the hosting companies. A lot of issues need to be considered, which can make it seem like a big challenge. In reality, this can be approached rather simply. At the outset, the service plans of all hosting companies look ridiculously similar leaving you thinking that one is as good as the other. Most customers tend to fall into this trap quite easily and make a decision based on the cost factor alone. Another feature that a lot of customers value is customer support. There are many web hosting companies that have been successful on these two features alone. However, in order to make a more informed decision, it is important to understand the different types of hosting services that the one can choose from.
What Hosting Plans Offer
Almost every hosting company offers a free hosting plan to its clients. Free hosting plans come with a lot of attractive promises and short term benefits. In reality, these promises do not amount to much as the client becomes familiar with the service. Free hosting plans come with an extremely restricted set of features with very little freedom for the client to make changes or modification. Some companies even employ deceptive practices by not informing clients that free hosting plans are actually free for a limited time period after which clients are automatically upgraded to paid hosting plans. Free hosting should be avoided at all costs.
Most first-time website developers start with a shared hosting plan. With shared hosting, the hosting company hosts a client’s website on a server along with the websites of several other clients. Usually, the number of websites hosted on a single shared server can run into the thousands. Shared hosting is quite inexpensive with average monthly rates rarely exceeding $10. However, because of the large number of websites hosted, performance issues are common. Loading speeds become slow over time and security threats are conspicuous. Shared hosting is recommended for hosting blogs because shared hosting plans come with single click WordPress installation and customer support. But for an e-commerce or online business site, the security issues make it difficult for credit card information and similar details to be shared online. Some of the good shared hosting companies include BlueHost, Host Monster, and DreamHost.
Dedicated Hosting is an alternative Hosting plan that is the most expensive form of web hosting. Clients graduate from shared hosting to dedicated hosting as their volume of online business and website traffic increases and they become more proficient at managing their website independently. With dedicated hosting, the hosting company allocates an entire server to a single client. Dedicated hosting results in much faster speeds and high levels of security. Clients are also given access to the server so that they can resolve website issues on their own without seeking help from the customer support team.
Another option that is open to those who find shared hosting inadequate is virtual private server (VPS) hosting. Rather than going the full mile with dedicated hosting, you can choose the less expensive VPS hosting option. VPS hosting lets you get the benefits of having your very own server without actually giving you a dedicated server. The hosting company allocates a dedicated portion of the server exclusively to your needs. Therefore, you do not have to share your resources with other clients of the company and your website’s performance does not suffer. The drawbacks of shared hosting do not affect the website to the same extent. On average, you can expect to pay around $250 a year for VPS hosting. If you want high loading speeds and reliable security but have a limited budget, then VPS hosting is a better option than dedicated hosting for your website.
Who Offers Hosting Services?
There are plenty of companies that offer hosting services of different types. Because of the relative ease of entering the industry, many costing companies set up shop but only few are able to deliver the service that ensures their survival in the industry. One such company is WP Engine that has received nearly unanimous praise for the quality of its service. Because service quality comes at a price, it is unfair to criticize WP Engine for its expensive hosting plans. The company assumes a lot more responsibility than other hosting providers for their clients. Even with a simple platform like WordPress, WP Engine offers every possible support to facilitate their clients. As the name suggests, the company specializes in WordPress hosting and has nurtured a dynamic support team that is familiar with every aspect of the WordPress platform.
Another interesting feature of WP Engine is that it allows clients to grow within the company. For instance, when a client starts with a basic hosting plan costing approximately $30 a month, they can easily upgrade to a better plan when their bandwidth requirement increases.
Switching over from another engine to WP Engine can be a bit of a trouble if you have been using a low quality hosting company. Transferring data from your previous host to WP Engine can encounter some hurdles and problems in setting up the website on the new server. However, thanks to WP Engine’s support team, a lot of these problems are taken care of.
WP Engine offers clients an inbuilt content delivery network (CDN). For a pricey upwards of $20 in monthly fees, the CDN functionality allows you to increase loading speeds and transfer accuracy for your visitors. This is great for websites that usually host a lot of images that can be difficult to load under normal circumstances. WP Engine’s CDN functionality makes transferring images from the server to the visitor’s computer possible within negligible time. Other than the cost which might be prohibitive for some people, there are virtually no service issues or customer support problems that have been reported about this company.
Shared Hosting Providers
Apart from WP Engine there are other hosting providers that offer high quality services for a much lower price. A few of these have developed widespread popularity for their services are used by thousands of clients worldwide. Most of the shared hosting plans offered by these companies are similar to a great extent. The common features of these shared hosting plans include the following:
- Unlimited storage capacity
- Unlimited domains
- Unlimited emails
- Unlimited accounts
However, the actual experience of using each of these plans is different according to the needs and experiences of individual users. Non-standard aspects of the service such as customer support have a huge impact on how customers perceive the shared hosting services.
BlueHost is among the most popular hosting sites offering a range of hosting plans including shared hosting. It has built a good reputation in the industry because of its exceptional customer service and affordable service plans. BlueHost is the first choice for many first-time bloggers who almost have to do nothing about managing the website or resolving technical issues.
Hostgator is another equally popular hosting company that basically specializes in reseller hosting. Hostgator acquires hosting capacity and resources from BlueHost and offers hosting plans to clients. So from a client’s perspective there is no fundamental difference in the quality offered by BlueHost or Hostgator.
While BlueHost and Hostgator are among the more affordable shared hosting companies, DreamHost is on the pricier side. However, there is no doubt about the quality of its services. In addition to shared hosting, the company also offers VPS hosting for clients who would like more control over their server resources.
How to Buy Shared Hosting
Once you have decided on a shared hosting plan that you like, you can either contact the company directly through their website or make sign up through an intermediary like Name Cheap or Hover. Hover is slightly more expensive than Name Cheap but offers a more user-friendly interface.
The options for acquiring a hosting plan are innumerable. In fact, only a few of these endure on the basis of their service quality. Overall, WP Engine offers the best service quality but it comes at a high price. Bluehost leads the shared hosting segment by offering the best of both worlds to most of its clients.