In this quick tip, we'll look at how you can pick the hosting provider which best fits your requirements. We'll look at asking the right questions and more.
Most people choose hosting providers based on pricing and the reviews those providers have. While these are hugely important in choosing a hosting provider they don't always result in the best provider for you. In this article I'll highlight some ways of finding the best provider possible to fit your needs.
Determine Your Needs
To find a hosting provider to fit your specific needs, you should first ask yourself what type of hosting you'll need (read below for details on different types of hosting). This might include whether you need services such as Instant Script Installers or free 1-800 Numbers, along with how much space and bandwidth you might use, if you need Live Chat, Phone and Ticket Support and if you need the support to be 24/7/365.
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While these things seem like basic questions, when you're shopping for a hosting provider you will need to know how much and what you need so you don't end up paying for features you won't use. Keep in mind; if a hosting provider doesn't have everything you need, that doesn't necessarily mean you shouldn't go with them as you can always order extras like 1-800 numbers from other companies!
Different Types of Hosting
Finding a web hosting provider can be tough, and we know that. There are so many options and pricing plans to choose from it can be hard to see the wood for the trees. First, determine what type of hosting you will need.
Below are some of the most popular types of web hosting and what they are best for. More details can be gleaned by talking with a hosting provider (they're usually more than happy to help you in picking plans).
- Shared Hosting - Great for single websites and for people that don't need the resources of a full server. If you only need one cPanel account and don't use a lot of traffic or bandwidth this plan would be great for you. Tip: A lot of people tend to think shared hosting means you'll have to share your website with someone else, that's not true - it means that you're sharing the server's resources with other websites. No one can access your files but you and your hosting provider!
- Reseller Hosting - Great for people who host multiple websites or host on behalf of their clients. Most web designers and start up hosting providers use these plans to get a kick start to their business. This option is more like a shared plan though, the resources are very limited and you'll need to upgrade eventually if you plan to scale your business.
- Cloud Hosting - Great for people that need a scalable solution, meaning you expect your website to grow at a fast pace and don't want to be bothered with upgrading servers every month. Cloud Hosting allows you to upgrade your hosting immediately from your web hosting provider's client area (depending on the hosting provider). A lot of hosting providers are moving from VPS's (see below) to Cloud Servers are they are pretty much the same thing nowadays.
- VPS Hosting - Great for people who need more than a Shared or Reseller plan, but don't yet need a dedicated server, or are on a tighter budget. VPS stands for Virtual Private Server. This means it is your own server, but virtually there are more VPS's on a single machine. VPS's are also great for learning server management.
- Dedicated Servers - Great for larger websites which use a lot of resources (Diskspace, Bandwidth, RAM etc), web designers or hosting providers that have a bigger client base and need their own dedicated resources to ensure the best uptime and performance possible. A dedicated server can be expensive, but if you're looking for good performance it's the best way to go!
Be sure and ask yourself if you do plan on scaling in the future. If you do, you'll want to find a hosting provider that offers a variety of plans so that you can upgrade with ease if you ever need to. It might be difficult to imagine that one day you'll need a dedicated server, but if you work hard on your website and start getting a substantial amount of traffic, you're going to need to upgrade eventually. If the provider doesn't offer a variety of different options feel free to ask them if they have sister or parent companies that do offer other plans - some hosting companies have multiple companies for different types of hosting.
Quick Tip: If you don't know how to manage a server you're going to need to find a provider that offers server management. Managing a server can be very tough and takes lots of knowledge. If you don't know what you're doing you could potentially harm all of the websites on your server. Management can be expensive, but trust me, in the long run it could save you serious problems. Please note that this only applies to Cloud Hosting, VPS Hosting and Dedicated Servers.
Questions to Ask
The next step is to think of some questions you'd like to ask the hosting provider (even seemingly unimportant things such as asking for a discount). You'll know from your first line of communication from a hosting provider if they're friendly and willing to help you. I have listed some questions below to give you a starting point, but keep in mind these questions are only examples so don't just regurgitate them without thinking first.
It's also advisable to save the chat (just incase). It's always good to keep records of things like that.
- Do you have an Uptime Guarantee? If so, do you give account credits for the time my website goes down?
- Do you provide a automatic script installer and a free 1-800 number?
- What type of support do you provide? Phone, Live Chat, Tickets or Email?
- Do you have an average support response time?
- If my _________ (eg: Wordpress) installation starts giving me errors, will you try and help me resolve the issue?
- Do you offer a money back guarantee? If so what is it?
- Are you guys running any type of promotions right now to save me a little bit of money?
Asking questions such as these will help you glean whether the hosting provider will fit your needs - and by talking with a staff member you can tell how they interact with their customers. Feel free to add your own questions into the list above, you can contact most hosting providers via Live Chat or Phone for sales inquiries depending on the hosting provider. If you don't see either of these options just look for a link that says "Contact Us" or "Support"; you'll most likely find these in the main navigation or the footer of the hosting providers website.
Find Customer Reviews
Your last step is going to be to lookup reviews of the provider that you're thinking about buying web hosting from. This is essential when looking for a provider because you want to make sure that they make their customers happy. Always keep in mind every provider will have some bad reviews, but that doesn't mean they're a bad provider because (as you probably already know) you can never please everyone. Finding reviews on hosting companies will be the easiest (and possibly most crucial) step in finding a provider. Below are some review sites, feel free to click the links and start your search.
- Web Hosting Talk - Best option to find reviews.
- Web Hosting Geeks
- Digital Point Forums
- Google - Great resource for reviews.
To conclude this article, I would like to reiterate that it's never easy to find a hosting provider, but with the steps above I hope that it will make your search much easier. If you have any questions at all, or need any assistance please comment below! Also, feel free to list your hosting provider to help others in their search.