What is web hosting and what are the factors in choosing one?

Web HostingCategory
11 min read
Alex Neri

After covering topics on setting up a digital portfolio and setting up your e-commerce site, it's time for us to tackle choosing your web hosting! For small businesses, choosing your web hosting is a critical aspect in the management of your site. Having a suitable web host boils down to some key factors. Let's dive into the process of choosing and selecting a web hosting provider!

Choosing a web host is a very important decision. You definitely want a reliable hosting company to be storing your important files, images, and data for the long haul. This is going to be an ongoing subscription and cost for you and your business.

If you make mistakes or want to switch hosting providers, it becomes a hassle to migrate your data. This is especially if your business relies heavily on your web hosting service to do your daily business. For many small businesses, the impact can be immense.

It's not easy to figure out the right web host or best website hosting service company suitable for your needs. This process can be daunting for many owners of small businesses. Nonetheless, we are here to help you navigate the world of web hosts and find a suitable one.

In this article, you will learn the following:

  • Reliability / Uptime
  • Speed
  • Location
  • Available storage
  • Bandwidth
  • Security
  • Backup
  • Customer service
  • Price
  • Bonus services & add-ons

What is a web host?

But first, let's define what a web host is.

Green Hand Holding Server Upright

web hosting service is a type of Internet hosting service that hosts websites for clients, i.e. it offers the facilities required for them to create and maintain a site and makes it accessible on the World Wide Web. Companies providing web hosting services are sometimes called web hosts.

There are two kinds of hosting available in general: Shared hosting and Dedicated servers.

Shared hosting is the more affordable option of the two and the most common. However, there are many disadvantages such as possible reliability, consistency, or performance limitations on the number of websites you can have on one server. This makes it more challenging for businesses with multiple sites to grow their customer base. Occasionally, there is an option of a virtual private server, where you can have a small, semi-'dedicated' allocated resource (CPU, RAM, and storage) for your website. While this seems to be a "dedicated" service, your site is still placed on a shared hardware resource and is considered shared hosting.

Dedicated servers, on the other hand, offer better performance, greater reliability, and greater security, but come at a much higher price point than shared hosts. Also, Dedicated hosting is offered by a variety of companies that offer them as part of their managed hosting packages, so you can have more options in configuring your hosting package and select a myriad of features. But yes, keep in mind, that most of these options and add-ons will come with a cost.

Now that's out of the way, let's dive in to what are the key factors that you should consider in choosing your web hosting provider! I have looked into various sources and crunched the information, so you can be sure to gain an understanding in choosing your web host service!

Factors that you should consider when choosing a web host

1. Reliability / Uptime

Ensuring that your website is accessible all the time is extremely critical. Be it your online portfolio, your company's website, or your e-commerce site, no one wants to visit a website that does not load. You want to find the best web host that is reliable and ensures that your website will have as much uptime as possible.

Uptime is the way to measure how reliable your web host is. This is usually expressed as a percentage of time where your website is up and running.

A web host's reliability can affect your businesses profit and loss if your business relies on your web host to make a sale. In the instance of e-commerce sites, having a website down is akin to lost sales. In this case, when looking for a web host provider, your priority is to look for one that can guarantee you at least 99% uptime. For example, GoDaddy's web hosting solutions guarantees 99.9% uptime for your website.

Reliable Gold Compass

2. Speed

Besides keeping your site up and running smoothly, your site should be able to load quickly for your customers. A website is only as good as its loading time. In terms of Search Engine Optimisation (SEO), you would know Google generally ranks pages that loads faster more favorably. A page that loads fast is always a plus for user experience.

If your site takes too long to load, visitors may leave before it's finished loading. Worse still, they may not even visit your site at all.

While reasons for slow websites include database queries and poorly written code, the speed provided by your web host plays a critical role.

The difference between an active user and one who abandons your web page eventually is probably just a few seconds of loading time!

Therefore, always ensure that the web hosting service that you choose is offering good loading speeds for your website.

Did you know? Websites stored on a hard disk drive (HDD) often load slower than those that are stored on a solid-state drive (SSD). This is because the hard drive has to move its arm up and down repeatedly in order to read data. If you want your site to load faster, consider moving its files over to an SSD or a web hosting provider that already offers SSD as part of their service offering.

3. Location

It is always better to keep the distance between your customers and the servers as small as possible. Most web host providers have location selection available for you to use when signing up for a service. Though some of them do not allow selecting a location, but are upfront about where the servers are located. Websites hosted on servers in a location near your site visitors will load faster than one hosted on servers halfway around the world.

4. Available storage

Every website will have different needs for storage. This will greatly depend on what your website is being used for, and will determine whether you need a lot or just a little storage space for your files.

If you need a lot of storage space, you need to look for the best web hosting provider that offers what you need. This is to prevent your website from running out of memory.

On a sidenote, this is a great way to factor in cost savings.

By reviewing your website's content management system, constantly ensure that you are not keeping files no longer needed on your server. That way, you will need lesser space and can potentially opt for cheaper hosting plans!

However, some web hosting providers would provide unlimited disk space, which makes it one less thing to worry about!

5. Bandwidth

Bandwidth is akin to a highway or a river on which the flow of data (your content) will travel from one place (your server) to another (your visitor). With this in mind, the more bandwidth you have, the more information your website will send your customer or visitor over time. This translates to a faster loading speed for your website or service. Sometimes bandwidth is also part of a consumable server resources, which is something that you should keep in mind when selecting service tiers or web host bundles for your web site.

Glowing Fiber Optic

6. Security

Consider having the assurance that your business data is secure and safe with your web hosting provider. Your business may or may not need high security when storing your data; you may only be using the web host in putting up a portfolio website, and you need less security. But for businesses that store customer data, or even health data, this becomes an important feature and your security requirements can astronomically grow.

There might be compliance (GDPR, HIPAA) implications when it comes to data security that you will have to consider. Keep this in mind when going through a hosting provider's services and product lineup.

7. Backup

Any reputable web host provider would typically includes this in any hosting packages. However, be mindful when choosing a web hosting service provider. Find out how frequent their backup service is, and how easily you can restore your website with this backup.

. If your website goes down and your backup takes hours to use in restoring your services, then your backup is as good as gone and your business losing money.

8. Customer Service

For many reputable web host providers, customer service is key. They should have staff available to assist you in case you need help with your account or web hosting needs.

At GoDaddy, customers can access help from GoDaddy Guides 24 hours a day, 7 days a week all year round.

This is made available via multiple channels: phone, chat, email, and help desk.

Some web hosting providers provide different levels of support. Occasionally, for the cheapest hosting package, you can only access the community forum, hence please check this carefully. More often than not, a dedicated community forum by a web host provides solutions for the needs of their customers.

However, if your business will likely need support to be available at critical times, or if you need fast turnaround times, you should consider a higher subscription hosting package, or hosting provider.

9. Price

Another important factor to consider when choosing a web hosting provider is their price for their hosting product or service lineup. Consider striking a balance between all the other factors mentioned in this list and the price that you or your business is willing to pay for this service. You will also have to consider the opportunity and the risks as part of this cost. For example, if you skimp on the backups feature of a hosting package and you lost all your data without a backup, this will entail a higher cost for you and your business eventually as you will waste a lot of time and resources trying to get your business back up and running while losing potential sales.

Paper Price Tag

10. Bonus services or add-ons

Web hosting providers can sometimes make web hosting packages similar to each other. Therefore, a key differentiator is the availability of additional or bonus services that a hosting provider can offer. This can be a quick small one-page website builder, a website content management system, a DIY website builder, a comprehensive management settings dashboard where you can easily centralize the management of your website, and more. You will definitely have a range of options to choose from, and with the growing pace of technology, more features to look out for!

Always check the fine print. At times, these bonus services will or can affect signup price or ongoing monthly subscriptions cost paid to your web hosting provider.

Questions to ask when deciding the right web hosting for small businesses

Choosing the right web hosting provider is not an easy task. There are many factors to consider when choosing the best web host for your own website. These include reliability, speed, location, storage, bandwidth, price, security and customer service.

You should ask yourself: What features would you need most for your website? What are your budget requirements?

Your choice in web hosting providers will depend on these two questions. If you have a small budget, find an affordable web hosting provider offering basic features. If you have a large budget, definitely strike a balance between factors that matter for you and those that don't. Remember: your choices and priorities in your hosting needs should be taken into consideration when choosing your web hosting provider. You or your business, whether it be an enterprise or a small business, will depend on your decision for months or years to come.

Whatever your chosen provider may be, I hope that you have made a good decision.

Good luck and happy hunting!

Editor's note: If you are ready to take the next steps, feel free to stop by our website to take a look at our web hosting plans! Alternatively, we have the right solution for you if you want to start building your website. Check out our websites solutions for more details!

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