Hosting Features to Look For

Your chosen hosting plan needs to offer all the functionality for your specific business needs. Here are some of the most common features you should look for in a hosting company.

Bandwidth And Storage Space

All hosting companies have at least one plan that offers unlimited bandwidth, which is technically the amount of data that can pass from one point to another. It is measured per unit of time, and storage, which is how many files you can actually store on your server. However, the truth is, nothing in this world is truly unlimited.

What Does “Unlimited” Really Mean?

When it comes to your hosting plan, your host will claim that you can host an unlimited amount of websites, upload unlimited files, and create an unlimited amount of email addresses.

Unfortunately, this doesn’t really translate into unlimited usage. It just means is that there is no limit on the number of resources you can use so long as you don’t abuse the service, or cause an interruption in service for other customers.

The Smallprint Is Worth Reading

For example, Bluehost will take control of your hosting account if you hit their CPU usage limits, and iPage will suspend your account altogether if you use excessive amounts of CPU. In addition, SiteGround only offers 20 GB of storage and Bluehost only offers 50 GB, while hosts iPage and InMotion Hosting offer unlimited storage.

So, while there may be some elements that are seemingly “unlimited” the truth is that unlimited hosting is mostly a marketing tactic used by hosting companies to get more customers.

To avoid falling victim to clever advertising, be sure to read the terms of service carefully, particularly if you expect your site to use a lot of resources.

Language Support for Programmers and Coders

Most hosting companies provide support for many popular programming languages and databases such as:

  • PHP
  • Python
  • Ruby
  • MySQL

On Windows hosting plans, your host should provide support for:

  • ASP.NET
  • ASP
  • NET framework
  • MS SQL

There are even a few hosts still supporting FrontPage Extensions. If your website or application relies on using one of those languages, be sure your chosen hosting provider supports it.

Website Builders and Hosting

If you are looking to create your own business site, without the help of a developer, using a website builder (an online app, not a person) can be very helpful.

Some website builders come as part of your web hosting package, while others are standalone products.

Most popular website builders have an easy to use drag-and-drop interface, which makes site creation a cinch. Here’s a list of some of the best website builders on the market today that will surely help you with your site building efforts.

WordPress.org

Though not always thought of as a site builder, the WordPress.org platform offers website owners of all levels an easy way to build any kind of website imaginable. It has a drag-and-drop interface, is compatible with plenty of reliable page builders such as Beaver Builder and Elementor, and has thousands of free and premium theme and plugin options to build on top of your site’s foundation.

Wix

Wix is a fully hosted website builder solution so you don’t have to pay for hosting to use it. You’ll have to buy a domain name and may have to purchase a premium plan if your site is large.

Wix Website Builder
The Wix website builder is a solid option.

However, you’ll have access to tons of pre-designed templates and apps for your site’s design and functionality.

BoldGrid

BoldGrid is a website builder that’s built right on top of WordPress, though it can be used as a standalone plugin as well. Its official hosting provider is InMotion Hosting, it comes WooCommerce ready, and you have the ability to choose from a variety of themes to make your site unique.

Shopify

Shopify is a website builder solution designed specifically for e-commerce shops. It’s a fully hosted solution and manages everything for you, from updates to backups. There are plenty of design options, and every feature you could need to run a fully operational online shop.

In addition to those mentioned above, there are other website builders that come with hosting solutions such as:

  • The iPage Website Builder is an add-on to your hosting plan that gives you an easy way to build your site. Though a limited version does come free with all hosting plans. Enjoy built-in social sharing, SEO optimization, mobile-friendly design, and beautiful image galleries.
  • GoDaddy offers a website builder called GoDaddy GoCentral with their hosting plans. Create an online shop, design a blog, and even use images they include that come straight from Getty Photography.

E-Commerce Support

E-commerce hosting is an option offered by many web hosts, such as WP Engine, that supply e-commerce functionality to your website.

So, if you plan on launching an online store, it’s helpful to find a hosting company offers e-commerce software that you can use to improve your shop’s design and functionality.

What to Look for in an E-Commerce Host

Here are some of the best features to look for in an e-commerce web host:

  • SSL certificates
  • Database support
  • Shopping cart software
  • Payment processing services
  • One-click e-commerce platform installs
  • E-commerce specific security measures
  • Caching technology and CDN integrations
  • Domain name registrations
  • Daily backups and easy restore options
  • Built-in drag-and-drop website builders
  • PCI compliant servers
  • 24/7 support through a variety of channels

In addition, there is a good chance the hosting provider you employ will have built-in e-commerce management tools to help you manage inventory, create product pages, and track your company’s success.

Backups And Security

When it comes to hosting plans, most shared plans will not provide you with a backup of your site that you can download.

They usually take regular backups of the entire server for their own internal purposes which they can use to restore your website in case something goes wrong, but with shared hosting, you are almost always responsible for taking backups of your own site.

That said, some hosts, such as SiteGround, do have advanced backup services, such as antivirus monitoring and removal, firewall protection, and disaster recovery, for an additional fee.

SSL Encryption

SSL, or secure socket layer, certificates are small data files that encrypt data that is being passed between your website and a site visitors browser so hackers can’t steal the information and use it for their own malicious purposes.

Building Trust and Improving SEO: Additional Benefits of SSL

They also increase your Google rankings so more people can find your site in search results, build trust amongst your site visitors, and improve conversion rates because people feel secure entering their personal information into your website when they know it’s secured with an SSL certificate.

This video explains SSL certificates in a nutshell. Courtesy of GoDaddy.

This feature is especially important for those that run online shops. In fact, it is required in the United States as part of PCI compliance that websites that accept credit cards as a form of payment have a valid SSL certificate on their website at all times.

The way to know your website is properly secured with an SSL certificate is to look at your site’s URL. Secure website URLs start with https, whereas non-secure website URLs start with HTTP.

Off-Site Payment Processors

That said, if you run an online shop and use an off-site payment processor such as PayPal, you are not technically required to have an SSL certificate. However, it is always a good idea to add that extra layer of security to protect your site’s data and instill trust in those that visit your site.

Many web hosts provide their customers with free SSL certificates as part of their hosting plan. For instance, InMotion Hosting offers a free SSL certificate for all domains that use their hosting plans.

Read more: SSL Certificates Guide for Entrepreneurs

Datacenters

Datacenters are facilities that house the web servers that store your website’s data. Their location and security are aspects that can affect product quality.

Security of Datacenters

Datacenters typically are outfitted with technologies designed to protect the servers that store your important data on them.

Web hosting datacenter security may include:

  • Video surveillance
  • Motion detectors
  • Biometric or RFID access control
  • Perimeter security, such as barbed wire fencing
  • Physical (human) security monitoring, often 24/7
  • 24/7 on-site technical support staff
  • Redundant communications connections such as “dark fiber” (unused fiber optic networks)
  • Environmental controls such as air conditioning, fire doors, and fire suppression
  • Locking server cabinets for colocation servers
  • Backup generators
  • Periodic re-assessment of employee access

Some hosts, like HostDime of Florida, provide video tours of their datacenters.

This video below features some of their security features, like biometric access points.

Why Does Datacenter Location Matter?

Once your website is hosted, regardless of the server it’s stored on, it can be accessed from anywhere in the world. But location does matter. It’s important to check that your hosting provider has a data center near your target audience. The closer your web server is to your website visitors, the faster your website will load for them.

So if your target audience is primarily in the USA, your best bet is to choose a server that’s somewhere in Northern America. This will ensure your website visitors are served your site’s content as quickly as possible.

Similarly, if you’re targeting an audience in Europe, you’d be better off finding a host that has a server located in a city like Amsterdam. However, another helpful feature that takes the pressure off of having to have a datacenter close to your site visitors is content delivery network (CDN) integration.

What’s a Content Delivery Network (CDN)?

A CDN, or content delivery network, is a geographically distributed network of many servers. When someone visits your website, it is delivered to them from the network server that’s geographically closest to them. This makes for the fastest content delivery possible.

Think of it like ordering pizza from a national chain: your pizza is delivered from the local pizza shop closest to you.

what is a cdn
This animation, courtesy of Cloudflare, provides a glimpse of how a CDN speeds up the delivery of websites.

Many businesses use CDNs because their target audience is spread throughout the world and are not necessarily nearby their web host’s datacenters. Luckily, many web hosts, such as Siteground, offer free CDN integration as part of their hosting plans.

Site Uptime and Downtime

Website uptime is the time that your website is available to your site visitors. Your website’s uptime is important to your business and your user experience. After all, if your website is not available for people to see, they cannot read your content, shop in your online store, or subscribe to your newsletter, or help boost your search engine rankings with the amount of time they spend on your site.

As a result, people may not want to return to your site or ever shop there again because of the downtime they experienced.

Your web host should monitor your site’s uptime for you. In fact, most web hosts boast of guaranteed web uptimes, even going so far as to credit you for any downtime you experience.

For example, Media Temple is so confident of their 99.99% Uptime Guarantee that you’ll receive 20% off your monthly hosting fee for every twenty minutes of downtime you experience in the month.

Uptime Guarantees

Some web hosts that really value their uptime guarantees will even give their customers a way to access their website’s real-time status at any time, as well as provide monthly uptime reports as a way of maintaining uptime transparency.

If you ever experience downtime with your website you should do the following:

  • Confirm that your website has actually gone down.
  • Determine the cause on your own or by contacting your web host.
  • Get in touch in with your web host customer support team and see if you can troubleshoot the issue.
  • Make sure to notify your site visitors of the outage, whether it’s routine maintenance or a hardware issue.
  • Find out how long your site is expected to be down and plan how you’ll handle the outage with upset site visitors.

There are some things you can do to prevent downtime. For instance, back your website up regularly, make sure your web host has uptime monitoring, make sure your hosting plan payments are up to date, and ensure your domain name registration is up to date.

You can also test your website every time you make a major design or functionality change to ensure there is no bad code causing your site to have issues.

Customer Support

One of the most important things to consider before signing up for hosting services is the level of customer support that is given.

There will be times when you need help completing a task or when your site has problems, and you’ll need someone with hosting expertise to help you.

Especially if you are running a business website that has a lot of traffic, finalizes e-commerce transactions, and has lots of web content.

Just because you are tech-savvy doesn’t mean you should ignore the fact that the right web host will have host specific experience so any problem you encounter can be handled quickly and efficiently. Even if you understand the technical details behind web hosting, you probably don’t know everything. Just because a hosting company is reliable with its hosting, does not mean you’ll love their customer service.

What to Look for in Web Hosting Customer Support

There are plenty of things you’ll want to look for in your hosting company’s support team. To start, having 24/7 support is always helpful. After all, website issues don’t take time off for the holidays or weekends.

In addition, you’ll want to have multiple channels (ways) for accessing support.

Customer Support Channels

Popular customer support channels include:

  • Live Chat
  • Phone
  • Email
  • A dedicated ticketing system
  • Online knowledge base with DIY articles and video tutorials

Response Time

The other main component to look for is response time.

When you run a business site, time is money. That’s why knowing that your host support is going to respond to your issues, no matter how minor, as quickly as possible is important.

For example, SiteGround is known not only for their 24/7/365 support, but their nearly instant response times via live chat and phone.

Domain Name Services

Every computer is given a unique IP address to distinguish it from all the other computers in the world that are connected to the internet network. IP addresses are a series of numbers and come in the form xx.xxx.xxx. However, trying to remember the IP addresses of every computer in the world is difficult to do.

That’s why domain names were created.

The Point of Having a Domain Name

The domain name of your website is the address people type in their URL browser when they want to visit your site. So, instead of having to type in the long string of numbers to visit a site connected to the internet, you can simply type in the web address instead.

Every website has to have a domain name. That’s why when you build your business website, you need to register a domain name that will identify your website as unique from all the other websites in the world.

Not to mention your domain name is the first impression all site visitors will have of your website, it affects your site’s chances of getting found in search engine results, and it helps define your brand. Getting a domain name can be kind of tricky if you’re not sure where to get started, so we outline the two main steps for you.

Step 1: Choose a Domain Name

The first thing you’ll need to do is choose a domain name that will represent your business on the web. You’ll want it to be short, easy to remember, and related to your brand so people who visit will remember you and continue to visit your site in the future.

Here are some great tips to follow when it comes to choosing the right domain name:

  • Make it easy to type so people won’t have trouble entering it in their browser.
  • Keep it short and easy to remember.
  • Use keywords related to your company for brand recognition and better SEO results.
  • Avoid using numbers and hyphens as they are easy to confuse.
  • Make it memorable so site visitors will think of you when they are searching for something specific.
  • Research your domain name to make sure it isn’t trademarked or copyrighted.

In addition, you’ll want to choose the right domain name extension or top-level domain. This is the part of your domain name that comes right after the “dot” symbol.

There are many top-level domains to choose from such as .com, .net, .org, .gov, .edu, and .mil. If you want to get more specific and recognize a specific country in your domain name, you can choose something like “.au”, which represents Australia.

Step 2: Buy/Register Your Domain Name

Because domain names are unique, you’ll have to choose from the available domain names. For instance, you cannot use the domain name www.google.com, because it’s already taken. That’s why you should test your domain name options in any number of domain name search tools found on the internet.

For example, Instant Domain Search will let you enter a potential domain name into the search bar to see if it’s available. If it is, you’ll need to buy it and register it so no one else can claim it as their own.

Luckily, many web host such as Bluehost offers their customers free domain names so all you have to do when signing up for web hosting is enter the domain name of your choice and it’ll be registered as yours. So long as it’s available of course.

Save Money By Finding Free Domains with a Host

If your hosting company doesn’t offer domain names, or you prefer to register your domain name elsewhere, there are some affordable companies such as GoDaddy that will let you buy and register your domain through them, even if you don’t use their hosting services.

This is a popular option as some people don’t want to keep things like their email accounts and domain name registrations in the same place as their web host. That way, should they want to change web hosting companies, transferring the information is easier to do.

That said, most web hosts offer free site transfers and include the transfer of your registered domain name, so the hassle of making the move from one host to another is not that bad.

Additional Hosting Provider Services

In addition to providing general hosting services to their customers, many hosting providers offer additional services as well.

Let’s take a look at some of them:

  • Professional web design for those times you just can’t create the type of site you want
  • Marketing services like running ad campaigns or improving SEO
  • Marketing freebies to help you grow your business such as PPC bonuses for AdWords or AdSense
  • Graphic design services like creation of social media profile images
  • Email hosting so you can get a professional business email that matches your domain and host it with your provider
  • Free site transfers and setups from other hosting providers
  • Additional security services at a premium price to ensure your site’s data is secure
  • Free site builders so anyone can build a site from scratch, regardless of skill level
  • Domain name registration so starting fresh is easy and renewing your domain is even easier

And that’s just the beginning.

Understanding the Types of Web Hosting

Web hosting comes in many forms and hosting plans can handle everything from a simple website with a handful of daily visitors to an online app used by thousands of users on a daily basis.

Some host plans are better suited for small to medium-sized businesses, as opposed to the hosting plans that work best for those with personal blogs.

Let’s take a quick look at the differences between the two and why it matters what type of web hosting services you use.

Personal Website Hosting

Personal hosting is usually less demanding than the hosting services required by a small-to-medium-sized business. That’s because the number of daily visitors is usually far less on personal blogs.

As a result, most personal blogs can get away with using the cheapest hosting providers, using shared hosting without any issues, and they’ll never run out of hosting resources such as bandwidth.

Personal blogs do not typically have any uptime issues because the amount of traffic, while it may be steady, is not excessive enough to crash the server.

Business Website Hosting

Business hosting is much more demanding than a personal blog and thus needs more resources like CPU, RAM, and disk space to operate at its highest speed and performance. That’s because some business or corporate websites tend to experience a lot more daily traffic and need to be able to handle this influx of traffic without any downtime.

When it comes to choosing the right business hosting plan, you’ll have to evaluate your individual site and assess your requirements of resources and features in order to deliver the best experience to your site visitors as possible.

Now let’s take a look at the different hosting solutions you can choose from when it comes to your website.

Shared Web Hosting

Shared hosting is usually the most affordable option. Your website will be hosted on a server that is shared by hundreds of other customers, which is why pricing is so low.

Should I Use Shared Hosting?

This type of hosting is great for those just starting out, those that don’t have a lot of content on their site, or those that have a low amount of daily traffic.

Shared hosting plans are a good way to get familiar with web hosting if you’re just starting out with your website.

Are There Any Downsides to Shared Hosting?

Since shared hosting plans require you to store your website’s data on one server, along with tons of other website owners, there is a chance that the performance of your website could be affected by other sites on the same server.

For instance, if one website crashes the server because it is hacked, your site is going down too.

In addition, if one website goes viral and experiences a huge influx of traffic, they will end up hogging way more resources than they normally would. In order to accommodate this traffic, resources are pulled away from other sites on the shared server.

How Much do Shared Hosting Plans Cost?

Shared hosting plans range between $2 and $10 per month or less with a web hosting coupon. In most cases, you can pay on a 3-month, 6-month, or a yearly basis to access additional discounts.

Bluehost Shared Hosting

One of the most well-known and reliable shared hosting providers on the market today is Bluehost, which is known for having tons of resources, providing a free website builder and domain name for customers, and easy one-click install of the WordPress content management system (CMS).

Cloud-Based Web Hosting

Cloud hosting is a relatively new technology that uses a number of individual servers (often hundreds of them) that work together as one large server.

What Are the Advantages of Cloud Hosting?

The main advantage of cloud hosting is that you can add more resources instantly as your website grows, so scaling up your business is a cinch.

All your hosting company has to do is adjust the allocated disk space, CPU usage, or bandwidth and you can immediately start accommodating lots more site traffic. This is great if your website suddenly starts getting a large number of visitors. Rather than harming your site’s uptime while you scale up, your resources are automatically added to your hosting plan.

Another great advantage of using cloud-based hosting is that your business site is protected from DDoS attacks, which are attempts to shut down entire sections of the internet with a massive influx of server requests.

Though this tactic works on sites being hosted on one single server, because cloud hosting works with multiple servers, if one goes down, the others pick up the slack. As a result, your site never experiences downtime and you don’t lose revenue.

Pay Only For What You Use

Cloud hosting plans don’t have a set price range because most of them use a pay-as-you-use pricing structure, which is appealing to those that don’t want to overpay for resources they never use.

That said, if you are looking for a cloud-based web hosting provider that can give you exceptional customer support, check out SiteGround, as they are known for affordable hosting and stellar customer service.

What is a private cloud? What are its benefits? What is a “bare metal server?” What does “bare metal cloud” mean? This video from Hivelocity provides an introduction.

Virtual Private Server (VPS) Hosting

Virtual private servers are a step up from a shared hosting plan.

With a VPS, one physical server acts like multiple, separate servers. Unlike shared hosting, VPS hosting provides a dedicated portion of the shared resources, so your website isn’t affected by other websites who are on the same server as you.

In other words, you get an individual piece of the server pie and don’t have to share with others. Not to mention, rather than sharing a web server with hundreds or even thousands of other website owners, you typically only share with about 20 other site owners on your VPS server.

This Bluehost video explains some of the benefits of using VPS hosting.

Scalability and Control for Fast-Growing Websites

In addition to not having to share your resources with others, VPS servers offer easy scalability and more control. Simply click a button and upgrade your hosting plan to accommodate more site traffic. Additionally, do things like add software to your server portion since what you do does not affect anyone else.

The good thing about VPS hosting is that the price is more affordable than renting a dedicated server that you get all to yourself, despite being able to make very similar server changes.

How Much Does VPS Hosting Cost?

Prices for VPS hosting range between $20 and $200, depending on the chosen CPU and amount of memory.

Remember: low priced VPS packages may not include management from the host, but this is essential if you don’t have any server administration experience. For instance, iPage offers managed support, free domain registration for the year, and an easy to use cPanel for making changes to your VPS server for relatively affordable monthly prices.

Dedicated Web Server Hosting

A dedicated server means you are renting an entire physical server from the hosting company and storing all of your site’s data on it by itself.

What are the Benefits of Dedicated Servers?

You have complete control over the server, which means you can install complex applications and scripts that aren’t usually available with shared hosting plans, without ever affecting anyone else or having to share resources.

Dedicated servers, such as the ones offered by InMotion Hosting, often provide better security. They are best suited for very large websites that have thousands of visitors each day or businesses that run web applications that are used by thousands of people.

Downsides of Using Dedicated Hosting

The downside of a dedicated hosting plan is that you need to have a lot of technical knowledge to ensure your server runs smoothly. If you don’t, you’ll either need to pay your host for management, or you will need to hire someone to manage the upkeep, which increases the monthly price.

After all, if something happens to your server — until you get it fixed — your site’s uptime is negatively affected and you risk losing lots of business as a result.

How Much Does Dedicated Hosting Cost?

Dedicated servers are usually priced from $100 a month and up.

Colocation Web Hosting

Colocation web hosting is an advanced hosting plan where you rent rack space from a data center and supply your own server hardware.

You also pay for the bandwidth you use each month, so your monthly bandwidth bill will depend on how well-trafficked your site is. In return, the hosting company will provide you with power, cooling, physical security, and an internet connection.

What Are the Benefits and Responsibilities of Colocation Hosting?

When you rent rack space from a hosting company, the responsibility for any software, data storage, and backup rests entirely on you. You are also responsible for replacing the hardware.

This can become very costly if something goes wrong, and can affect your business site should your experience serious downtime.

However, this also means you can use any operating system you want, such as Linux or Windows, increase the CPU and RAM whenever you need to, and install any type of specialized software on the server you want.

Because of the fact that operating your own server hardware can be so technical, colocation is not recommended for beginners or most small businesses.

Reseller Web Hosting

Reseller hosting packages allow you to sell hosting space to your own hosting customers. These hosting packages can be a shared, cloud, or dedicated plan, depending on the type of customers you want to sell hosting plans to.

They also tend to come with pre-packaged tools to help you manage the hosting plans you resell to your customers.

Reseller programs such as the ones offered by SiteGround come white-labeled so your clients never know you are using an established hosting company to sell hosting plans to others.

Control Panel and Billing

Reseller hosting comes with greater technical control offered through a management panel. On Linux, this will often be Web Host Manager (WHM).

You’ll usually also be provided with billing software to create client invoices, and you may be able to re-brand the entire system with your own business name. You may also benefit from private name servers and free website templates.

How Much Does Reseller Hosting Cost?

The price for reseller hosting usually ranges from $15 – $50 a month, depending on features and resource limits.

Managed WordPress Hosting

Managed WordPress hosting is ideal for businesses that want a hassle-free WordPress experience.

Some hosts offer this as a plan choice, but others actually offer it exclusively, meaning that you cannot host any other type of website with their hosting plans.

With managed hosting, everything related to WordPress is taken care of.

What are the Benefits of Managed WordPress Hosting?

When you use managed WordPress hosting, these are some of the benefits and perks you’ll enjoy:

  • Your WordPress core, themes, and plugins will always be kept up to date
  • Your site will be secure
  • You’ll have automated backups and easy restore options
  • You’ll enjoy dedicated WordPress support, such as the customer service offered by WP Engine.

In addition, there are several benefits to using WordPress hosting for your business (e-commerce) website:

  • Servers are configured specifically for WordPress, meaning even when your site traffic jumps significantly, your site’s speed and performance are never sacrificed.
  • Extra layers of security are added on top of the already secure WordPress CMS, meaning your site’s data, and your customer’s sensitive information is always protected from malicious activity
  • The support teams for WordPress hosting plans are knowledgeable about the platform so any time you have an issue it is resolved quicker and more efficiently than with a traditional web host provider
  • You typically receive daily backups of your website just in case your site is compromised for any reason
  • Website builders, staging areas, and version control are just some of the dev tools WordPress hosting plans provide their customers

Are there any Downsides to Managed WordPress Hosting?

That said, there are two main downsides to managed WordPress hosting. To start, it can be expensive since so many exclusive features come as part of your hosting plan. In addition, you may lose some control over your site, such as the ability to move it to another host later.

What’s the Difference Between a Website Built via WordPress.org or WordPress.com?

As a side note, it’s important to understand that there’s a big difference between having a WordPress.com and WordPress.org website:

WordPress.com is a free blogging platform hosted by WordPress itself. You don’t need a host your site’s data with a hosting company, there is no software to download, and you have no web server to maintain.

In fact, you don’t even need to register a domain name, as it is given to you. You also have access to plenty of customization tools for making changes to the design and functionality of your website.

WordPress.org is also a free platform, though it requires a web hosting provider and a domain name registration. There are thousands of free and premium themes and plugins you can use to customize your website, and creating a business website with this platform is going to be your best option.

Free Hosting Plans

For those on really strict budgets, there is always the option of going with a free hosting plan. Though not recommended, it’s good to know the option exists, just in case.

It can be easy for startup businesses that have yet to make a profit to want to get in on a free hosting plan. After all, any money that can be saved is a good thing.

Downsides of Free Web Hosting

However, before you jump into a free hosting plan, check out some of the potential problems you might run into:

  • The domain name will include the free hosting provider’s name, taking away from your branding opportunities and making you appear less professional
  • There are usually no uptime guarantees, which can affect the user experience and your revenue
  • Many free hosting providers display unrelated ads on your website that can affect your site’s SEO and look unprofessional
  • Limited bandwidth and storage space is to be expected, with no chance of upgrading
  • There is usually no customer service or support team on hand to help you with any problems you run into

That said, free is free and sometimes that’s enough for people, no matter what kind of website they are running. In addition, free web hosts don’t lock you into contracts like most premium hosting companies do, which is appealing to those that don’t want to have to stick with one web host.

Web Host Shopping Checklist

Now that you have a comprehensive idea of what to look for in your web hosting provider, check out this helpful list of questions to ask so you can make sure everything on your list of priorities is handled by the hosting company you are considering using.

  1. What experience does your support team have when it comes to site hosting and WordPress (or other CMS)?
  2. What type of customer service can I expect when I have an issue and how to do I contact the support team? Do they have native speakers in my language?
  3. Are there any discounts for paying on a yearly basis as opposed to a monthly basis for hosting services?
  4. What are the setup fees and what setup steps are handled by you? For instance, do you perform site migrations, domain name registrations, and WordPress installations?
  5. How do you handle site security, both when everything is good and when there is a problem? In addition, do you have any uptime guarantees? What is your monthly uptime?
  6. How many customers share the server my site’s data will be placed on? Where are the datacenters located and do you offer CDN integration or other speed and performance features?
  7. How often will my site be backed up and how do I access those backups in the case I need them?
  8. Do you offer any money back guarantees?
  9. How many email addresses can be created with my hosting account to accommodate my business needs?
  10. What measures do you take to secure the servers storing my data and my website itself?
  11. What type of hosting plans do you offer and what are their feature sets and price points?
  12. Do you provide things like SSL certificates, subdomains, staging areas, website builders, or other marketing tools?

In the end, choosing the right web host is a big decision. And, without the right information, it can be tough to know which hosting company for your business is the best option.

After all, running a business site involves much more than the just the website and its web host. However, it’s important to build your business site on a solid foundation, which includes a reliable content management system and web hosting provider.

FAQ

Below we’ve added a few common FAQs on choosing a web host. We hope these help you in your search.

How do I find the best web hosting?

Browse our Web Hosting comparison page to find a selection of popular web hosts that our experts have reviewed. Take a look at the features then select some reviews to browse. We pride ourselves on our candid reviews created to serve the needs of small business owners and entrepreneurs.

How do I find the right web host?

The best web hosting can be determined by analysis of features, but the web host that is right for you depends on your needs. Take a few minutes to write out what your objectives are with your host.

Are there some aspects that are more important than others for you? For example, if you use a CMS like WordPress or Drupal, you might want to go with a web host that specializes in that platform.

How do I figure out how much bandwidth or storage I need?

If you’re launching a simple personal hobby site or blog, then the entry-level plan at a reputable web host will likely provide all you need.

If you have an e-commerce site or a popular blog, you can simply confer online or by phone with the web host you are considering.

Go Further

Now that you’re armed with an overview of web hosting, make sure to check out other helpful information hubs on our site like our launch page for website builders, e-commerce platforms, and our blog.

Further Reading

Looking for a second opinion? Visit our sister site WhoIsHostingThis for their guide to the best web hosting.