Know What to Expect Before You Open a New Hosting Account
When trying to start a website, it can be tricky navigating through all the steps you have to complete. Before you can even begin designing the website, you have to make sure you get a reputable host for your site.
However, when you are new to the website game, you most likely won’t know exactly what you need so signing a new contract for a year or longer can be very intimidating. First, you need to do a necessary assessment and figure out what you want in general for your site.
Know Your Hosting Needs
The first step is to figure out your web hosting needs. There are so many different plans out there with varying levels of service, so you should figure out early on what type of plan you want and what you need. Here are some basic questions to answer:
What kind of website are you building?
- Do you need a specific application or support for a particular script?
- Does your website need a specific software?
- How much traffic are you expecting?
Most contracts for hosting providers require that you sign for a one- to three-year plan. You want to make sure that you are choosing the correct one, so you don’t waste time and money. Before committing, here are a few things you can expect from a hosting service.
The 4 “S’s”
A superior host will provide you with the four “S”s, meaning speed, support, and security. Of course, depending on your needs, you might want more from a hosting provider, but these four things are the most vital. Without one of these four, you will most likely have lousy hosting experience.
Research shows that if your site takes more than two seconds to load, then visitors will become impatient and leave your page.
You should expect a host to be able to provide you with speeds fast enough to keep your visitors happy and satisfied. Look for a host that utilizes caching, SSD (solid-state drive), and sends sufficient resources towards your site to keep your speeds up to par.
But remember, you do get what you pay for, and a cheaper service will most likely result in slower speeds.
Before getting started, decide how much help you will. Do you have some technical skills or time to do it yourself? Or would you instead someone take care of all hardware, infrastructure issues including installations, updates, and more?
More hosting providers will provide support via email, ticket, phone, or chat support. One important thing to always check out is the turnaround time for resolving any issues.
Some hosting providers are only available during regular business hours, but you should look for a host that is available 24/7. You should expect to find a host that can answer you quickly and intelligently so they can solve any issues that pop up.
After all, if your site is down for some reason, you don’t want to have to wait for regular business hours to get the problem solved; they should handle the issue as soon as possible.
If you want someone to handle the backend of the server for you, then you should consider a managed hosting service. Host providers will make sure your system is completely configured, monitor your site and server for any security issues, install or update any software as needed, as well as manage backups.
While this is a bit more pricey than an unmanaged hosting plan, it does have its advantages and can be a good option for someone who doesn’t have any technical skills or the time to manage the server on their own.
The average website faces malware attacks 44 times every single day. You should expect a web host to take care of at least some of the security protocols. Many of the decent hosts will offer free, regular backups that you can utilize if you do need to restore back to a known safe point.
Good hosts will also provide free SSL certificates to help encrypt all sensitive information and DDoS prevention.
Are you expecting your website to grow substantially in the next year? Then you should consider a host that can scale with you. If you choose a VPS or cloud host, then you can anticipate that they can scale up with you as you need it.
Because the cloud can pull from multiple servers to give you the resources you need, it makes it easy to handle traffic spikes.
Other Factors to Consider When Choosing a Host
You want your website to be running 24/7, or as close to that as possible. That is when the uptime guarantee comes into play. Most hosting providers will guarantee at least 99.9%, but you should expect from a suitable host a 99.95% or higher uptime guarantee.
The higher the uptime, the less time your website is offline and inaccessible to your visitors.
If you expect high levels of traffic or have a resource-heavy site, you can anticipate having to pay a bit more for hosting then a cheaper shared hosting plan. At the minimum, you should expect to pay around $3 a month for hosting, but that means you will also get minimum features like speed, security, and control.
As you look at the more expensive plans, make sure you do need all the resources now or shortly to make sure you aren’t overpaying and wasting your budget on something you don’t need yet.
While your chosen host might be fantastic right now, you never know what might change in the future. Management changes or technology shifts can alter the level of service that you have come to expect from your hosting provider. Therefore, you should make sure you don’t tie your site to just one host, and you can efficiently move it from place to place.
Read the Reviews
One of the easiest ways to understand a hosting provider better is to read web hosting reviews, tons and tons of reviews. Make sure to check out multiple different sites with real people reactions to see what type of provider it is. Of course, take everything with a grain of salt. A few bad experiences do not mean that it is necessarily a bad host. But by doing your research, you can ensure that the hosting provider will provide the level of service that they advertise on their website.
Choosing a web host is a big decision, and you need to do adequate research before you commit to a year-long contract. You should expect to find a host that works for you and can make it a good experience for both you and your visitors. You can find more hosting providers for all levels of plans here.