Website hosting is a somewhat ubiquitous service these days. There are a plethora of companies who offer this service, but not all #web hosting is created equally and you need to be sure you make the right choice for your specific needs.
Let's take a look at 6 questions you should ask when you are shopping for website hosting.
1. What is the cost?
Probably the most obvious question is what each company charges for web hosting services. You will find a wide range of pricing out there, from free to a few Euros to even hundreds of Euros per month depending on the nature of the service (f.e: shared plans VS VPS plans). While a low cost does not necessarily coincide with a lesser service (nor does a more expensive cost mean a better solution), super-low cost plans are typically for very basic services. Ask the pricing question to make sure that the cost fits with your overall budget, but then follow that question up with the other questions below to learn what you get for that monthly or annual cost.
2. Do they support your CMS or platform of choice?
The content management system your site will use or, if it does not use a CMS, what other code requirements that site has, is a very important factor to consider. Certain hosting platforms may not meet the technical requirements for the platform your site will use. For instance, a CMS like Wordpress is very popular and supported by many hosting providers. Less popular platform like ExpressionEngine does not enjoy such widespread support from hosting companies - and low cost services may not support any CMS options at all.
In the end, you need to be sure that the website that you develop will run smoothly and work as planned with the hosting plan that you decide to move forward with, otherwise you will be in for a nasty surprise once you try to launch your new website!
3. What is support like?
From time to time, you will need to connect with your hosting team to have them answer some questions or help resolve a problem. This is why it is important that you understand what that company’s support structure looks like.
If there is a problem with your site’s hosting service, who do you call? What is the turnaround time like for service requests and are you charged extra when you request assistance? You want to have a clear understanding of a provider’s customer service and support procedures before you decide to work with that company.
4. Are there bandwidth limits?
Many hosting plans allow for a certain amount of data to be transmitted each month. The resources that make up your website (image files, HTML documents, CSS stylesheets, media files, etc.) will eat into the bandwidth that you are allowed to use. If you are sending large files, or if your site gets lots of visitors each day, then this bandwidth will be consumed more quickly. To this end, you need to make sure that your plan will allow you the amount of transfer data you will need each month.
5. What happens if bandwidth is exceeded?
As a second part of the bandwidth question, you want to know what happens if you exceed your limit.
Assume you have a month where a big promotion hits or your company writes a blog post or article that goes viral. This could make traffic numbers spike and your bandwidth limit can be reached very quickly. You want to be sure that your hosting provider will not turn your website off if this happens (yes, some companies really do this).
Look for a service that will either forgive an overage if it happens only for 1 month or, in the worst case scenario, bumps you up to the next pricing/account level if this overage happens. You just want to be sure that your site is never unavailable due to a high level of traffic therefore interest.
6. How reliable is the service?
Speaking of the site being available, the final item you will want to ask about is what a company’s uptime numbers are. Your site will not be much of a success if people cannot get to it, and if your hosting provider has an outage, your site will be down too.
There are companies that advertise 100% uptime. This is either a gimmick or, if it is true, you will pay extra for that level of service.