If you are new to the world of web hosting it can be confusing with all the technical jargon, we will break it down into an easy step by step guide so you know what to ask before you take out any plan.
Lets start at the beginning, with any hosting package you will also need a domain, a domain is your brand for example domain.com. They is also many domain extensions that you can choose from including .com or .co.uk
Each domain extension relates to a different country, so .co.uk would relate to the UK and .fr is for France and so on.
They is also alternate names for some extensions such as .services to add to the end of your business domain name if you provide a service or .technology for a tech related site.
Once you have chosen your domain name you can can choose your hosting package.
They is several different web hosting packages out there to choose from including shared, reseller or even file hosting but what does each one mean and which would suit me best?
Plans listed above generally differ between providers and may not provide selected services.
Now that we have got the domain and hosting packages out of the way lets focus on the requirements when choosing your hosting package.
1. Customer reviews - You can instantly get a good idea of how good a provider is by looking at their reviews. You can check out their reviews on websites such as Trustpilot, Hostadvice and Google Maps.
2. Customer support - Do they offer reliable customer support should you need them? Many providers generally offer live chat and ticket support to get in touch. Customer support is essential should your website suddenly go offline for any reason.
3. Location - Where are their servers located? The further away the server the longer it will take for your website to load. As an example if you are based in the UK your best option is a provider that has servers based in the UK or as near as possible.
4. Time in business - They is a lot of new hosting providers offering services which end up going bust after a year or so. Check how long they've been in business to give you a clear indication that they are going nowhere and your website is in safe hands!
5. Reliable servers - Ask them what type of servers they are using, generally most web hosting providers use Xeon servers which can hold lots of users and manage processing easily. Providers that use old hardware will experience slow loading websites especially if they are overcrowded.
Reasons for server downtime can include server reboots, updating server hardware, updating server software or even datacentre upgrades.
7. Server security - How safe are your files? Ask your hosting provider if they are using a firewall and restricting settings to prevent hacking attempts.
Hosting providers also use a term called server hardening to prevent any users from accessing either other peoples files, injecting code or brute force to try and gain access to the user login areas.
8. Control panel - Do they offer a control panel with your hosting account? Most major hosting providers offer a control panel so you can manage your account easily, they include all your features and settings.
The most common web hosting control panels include Directadmin and Cpanel.
9. Affordability - How do they compare in terms of price? Never go for the cheapest hosting provider! Cheapest never means best and probably use old hardware which can slow your website down.
Use a provider that offers value for money and provides all the essentials that you need.
10. SSL support - You may have a website if you are selling services online and need an SSL certificate, this offers website security and prevents a potential hacker stealing sensitive information.
You can also get a LetsEncrypt SSL for free to add to your website.
11. Disk space - How much disk space do you need for your website? Most websites will not need any more than around 5GB of space.
Bigger websites such as online shops have more images and may need much more space to upload product images to their site.
12. Bandwidth - How many visitors are allowed to your website? Bandwidth is set to prevent too many users coming to your website, causing overheads on the server and slowing it down.
Use a package which has the right bandwidth set for you, generally a generous amount is better because if you go over your stated bandwidth amount the account is usually suspended until it renews the following month.
13. Activation time - How long do you need to wait until your services are activated? Nobody likes to wait around after paying for something, use a hosting provider that has a quick or instant activation once you have chosen your hosting package.
14. Backup - We all need to backup our files once in a while to prevent any loss of information, most providers have the option of backing up your files or storing a copy of your website offsite.
Backup is useful if you are unable to fix an issue or you need to go back because your website has become corrupted. You should aim if you are regularly creating new content on your website to update it weekly or monthly.
Another useful tip is to save a copy of your site on Web Archive, they save a cached copy on their website along with the date so you can go back any check at any time.
15. File manager - Does your package include file manager? File manager is important so you can access all your files. You can upload and download as needed.
Most providers also allow FTP (File Transfer Protocol) so you can access your files within going into your control panel, you can use software such as FileZilla to login.
16. Upgrade - Your website may grow overtime to the point where you need to upgrade your hosting package, check you are able to do this without the headache of moving providers.
Research a reliable hosting provider that fits your needs, check out their reviews and if they have had any issues with bad customer service or excessive downtime.
Looking to get your website online? Check out our web hosting packages.