Important factors to consider when choosing a web hosting provider for your blog.
One of the first steps in starting a blog, and arguably one of the most critical, is to choose a web host. It can be an intimidating and overwhelming process, especially for those not familiar with computer terminology.
This post will be unlike most topics on the subject for one reason. There are no host recommendations. No one is sponsoring this post. There are no affiliate links.
This post is written to give you things to look for and ask about when you choose a hosting provider.
What is a “web hosting provider”?
Web hosts are computer servers that act as a storage center for your website. It stores your website files (HTML, PHP, etc.), video files, audio files, images, databases, etc. Basically, it is where you website lives on the internet.
A web hosting provider is the company that supplies the server that acts as your web host and connects that server to the internet.
The two biggest free options are WordPress.com and Blogger.com. They are simplified versions of other hosting options with almost no technical know-how needed. However, this can limit many of the customizations you may want. These can be a great option if you just want to test the blogging waters.
If you want to choose a paid web hosting provider there are 4 main types of web hosts: Shared, VPS, Dedicated, and Cloud. They all vary in type, features, and prices. Every business has different website needs and those needs will determine the type of web hosting you need.
Types of Web Host: Shared Hosting
Shared Hosting is probably the most common and most talked about type of web hosting. It is a great beginner option. You share a physical web server with hundreds, and often thousands of other users and businesses. It is normally the cheapest hosting option.
● It’s affordable.
● It’s beginner-friendly.
● No real technical knowledge of web servers is needed.
● It’s maintenance free.
● Security concerns. Another person’s hacked site can easily become your hacked site.
● Shared resources.
● No control of server.
● Limited usage.
Types of Web Host: Virtual Private Server (VPS)
VPS is similar to shared hosting in that you are physically share a web server with other users, but, different in that you are not sharing resources.
A VPS is a physical computer that is divided into several virtual sections with a web server setup on each section. This separates users’ accounts and allows each section to function independently as if it was on its own physical computer.
● Limited shared resources.
● Greater control of web server.
● Rapid growth possible.
● More expensive.
● Some technical knowledge is required.
Types of Web Host: Dedicated Server
Using a dedicated server means you have a web server all to yourself. You are basically renting a whole computer server to use for your website and your website alone.
● Most secure.
● All the resources.
● Control of server.
● Most expensive.
● Technical knowledge required.
Types of Web Host: Cloud Hosting
Cloud hosting is relatively new. Clouding is a team of servers, which is called the cloud, that work together to host websites. It allows multiple computers to work together to handle the needs of any website.
● Very scalable.
● More resources.
● Extremely reliable.
● Cost efficient.
● Advanced technical knowledge is a must.
Choosing a Web Hosting Provider
Once you have decided which type of web hosting you need, next is to decide which web hosting provider to go with.
There are thousands of web hosting providers in the world today. Some of these are really big companies, others are owned and operated by two or three individuals, and some are even resellers of of the bigger hosting companies.
Some will give you a free domain, subdomains and email addresses with your hosting account, so be sure to check that out.
One of the important things to consider is your skill level and how much customer service and hand holding you might need.
The Not So Secret Aspects of the Web Hosting Industry
Like many industries there are things that people that have been around for awhile know, that newbies don’t. A few things to look out for when researching web hosting providers:
Beware the Affiliate Link!
I promised not to name any companies in this article for a good reason. Many web hosting providers offer their customers significant referral bonuses for anyone that signs up for the service using the customer’s affiliate link.
If you are promised $65 for everyone that signs up for web hosting using your link, aren’t you more likely to rave about the company?
You can pull up hundreds of rave reviews of certain web hosts that may not be as honest as they could be because of the incentives to get people to sign up.
Bait and Switch Pricing
Some web hosting providers offer you ridiculously low pricing for the first year and then charge 4-5x that the following years assuming most people are too lazy to switch hosts.
Some offer free hosting plus a la carte service pricing, where they make the bulk of their money. Charging for switching hosts is expected. Charging for customer service requests… maybe not.
A Rose by Any Other Name
There is one HUGE web hosting conglomerate that has made a business model of buying smaller successful hosting providers, keeping the name intact, laying off much of the staff and subsequently decreasing services. They own 60-80 providers and the service is the same at all of them. And, not so coincidentally, they offer big referral bonuses so have lots of rave reviews.
I learned of this when I chose one just as they were purchased and the service dropped overnight. A few of the others on my short list were also owned by the same company.
How I Found My Hosting Provider
One way to find good hosting provider is to ask your friends. Ask them to tell you about the uptime, the customer service, and other factors that you care about so that you can make an informed decision.
I chose my current provider after two disastrous choices. The last one had me doing most of the technical troubleshooting because their tech department couldn’t figure it out.
Two of my blogging buddies referred me to my current provider when I was searching for someone to help speed up my site. He actually did the initial work for free within an hour of me asking. That’s when I knew it was time to make the switch.
When making a choice about web hosting do your research, ask your friends and colleagues who they use. And remember, while it may be a bit painful, you can always change your web host if you are not satisfied.