Whenever you get a web hosting plan, you’re actually paying (or maybe getting it for free) for a part of one of their computers. Sometimes you’re paying for a whole one. What this gives you is the flexibility of having your files and software required to run your website put in a centralized location. A location from where anyone who wants to see it, can access it. To make everything even easier, you get tools to manage your part of the computer, as well as build and run your website.
When you use such a plan, your website isn’t somewhere in a cloud. It is actually a collection of files, located on a real computer, in a real building. Where the building is located, how it looks like, how powerful the computer is, all of that depends on which hosting company you opt for, and most of those things you shouldn’t even worry about. But, at the end of the day, it is not that different than the computer you are actually using right now.
But, how do you decide whether a certain web host is good for our needs? Are storage options and bandwidth still important? What kind of service will work best for you? Try to read on through this web hosting guide for beginners, it will hopefully help you decide in the end.
Know your needs and requirements
Before you even start looking at options, you need to know exactly what you need. You need to know what you’d consider paying for, and how much. Put everything aside, and think about it, thoroughly.
- What kind of website are you making?
- How much (or how little) traffic can you expect?
- Do you, or your website, need special software?
- Would you need something common (such as a WordPress blog)?
- Might you need some kind of Windows applications?
As far as web hosting for dummies goes, the above-mentioned questions are the first you ought to answer, and they will tell you what kind of hosting service you need. There are a few rules of thumb but think about the things above. Also, think about what will happen in the future, try to keep an image of the next year or so in your head.
The no-brainer rule for a beginner is to start small, get a good shared account, and move on when necessary. A shared hosting service is cheap and sufficient for most new sites. And, it has the added benefit of being able to upgrade to a dedicated hosting service or a VPS at any point in time. Continue reading this web hosting beginner guide, to see what are the things you need to keep an eye out for.
What are the major things to check?
Uptime percentage and reliability
The uptime percentage tells you how much of the time the server is up and running. You need one that runs constantly, and that has a stable connection and a powerful server. The recommended uptime score to look for is 99.5% and above. Anything below 99% is completely unacceptable and might lead to problems. To check this for a specific hosting service, you can read reviews on it, and see what users are reporting. The other option is to use a server monitor tool, most of them are easy to use and free, even as a trial period.
Upgrading options for the server
Nowadays, a shared web host can be pretty powerful. A well-optimized WordPress blog which has around 30,000-40,000 monthly visitors can run completely fine on a shared hosting account. And, if you limit your concurrent database connections, you shouldn’t be having any problems.
But, if you intend on growing your website big in the next year or two (and most of you who are reading this do), you might want to look up for a host that gives you room to grow your website, in terms of processing power, storage, security features, etc. You should be able to go from a shared hosting account to a VPS or a dedicated server, thus finding your solution of hosting.
There is a trick which is well known for hosting deals, and it is especially true for shared hosting. Once you sign up, the prices are dirt cheap, but when you renew your membership, the prices skyrocket. It is well known, and there is no way to avoid the renewal costs unless you want to move around to a new host once your initial subscription is done.
A general rule would be to get shared hosting with prices of below $10 per month, but your tolerances might be higher or lower than that. However, to avoid any surprises, make sure to read the Terms of Service, and read the fine print carefully. You need to be okay with the renewal prices before you sign up.
How not to get ripped off by a web hosting service provider
Use reputable services
Using a service that is well known is of utmost importance. These sites also come with potential downsides, and they do tend to have some tricks up their sleeve, but their ultimate goal isn’t to rip you off. They will undoubtedly try to get some more money out of you, such as renewal fees for example, but ultimately, they actually do want to give you good service.
On the opposite end, small, local businesses usually want a quick way to make some money. They’ll act well before you commit, and once they get your money, they completely forget about you. This might not be true for all sites, but you should be aware of it.
In any case, you should read reviews and find clients to ask about a specific service. This should give you a picture of what to expect. You can also check what are some of the best and reputable WordPress hosting providers.
Pay attention to prices and renewal fees
The prices might often seem too low to be true – and they usually are. What companies do, is they give you a low price and make you believe that that is the only price you’re paying. However, the fine print usually says that the price is only valid until you have to renew your subscription, and a higher price applies then. Those reduced prices are only valid for a month if you paid for a month when subscribing, or a year or three years. Afterward, you get the full price.
Unlimited is a myth
A company telling you that you have unlimited anything is a misleading fact. For example, having unlimited storage or bandwidth should theoretically mean that you can store a hundred trillion teraflops. Therefore – you can transmit everything to Mars. And even that isn’t unlimited.
The term they should be using is unmetered, which means that they won’t even measure how much data you’re using, or limit it in any way. The limit is your hardware and how much it can handle. For example, if your dedicated server has a 100MBps port, that gives you 100 Megabytes per second. That might look like a lot, but it goes up to around 240 Terabytes per month. And if you share high-quality video, 4K for example, constantly, even that might not be enough. And, if you run into a traffic surge that needs more than those 100MBps, that might be a bottleneck.
This is the truth, and you can’t really avoid it. If you have a dedicated server, expansion is unavoidable, and that does indeed cost. If you have a cloud plan, you pay as much as you use. This, theoretically does give you an unlimited bandwidth, but you’ll pay for it in the end.
As far as choosing a good web hosting goes, there are 3 things to keep an eye out for. Go with a reputable brand, use your common sense, and most importantly, do your research. Combining them all you discover that you get a stable site, you don’t get bullied into choosing a host with terms such as “unlimited”. Thus, you will identify what you need and how much you can afford to pay for that.