Building a great website can be a tricky and time-consuming process. Once you have completed your new site, it is vital to find a service to put it online so that users can enjoy the fruit of your labor. While some people might opt to keep their sites on a private server, most are better off finding an external host. A host is a server that stores your website’s data and provides people with a way to access its content.
But how do you know what web hosting services are best for your needs?
It’s not always easy to tell. What might work for a personal website might not be the best solution for a small business. So before you sign up for a monthly hosting service, it’s best to ask yourself what you’re looking for and what kinds of features you will want to consider before you jump in.
Understanding the best web hosting services out there can be surprisingly simple, if you first understand what you’re looking for.
Website Hosting Tools
Some of the best hosting services offer website building tools. If this is important to you, you will want to consider whether the services offered by your provider fit your needs.
Some, like Wix, come with drag-and-drop website tools. Other services, like HostGator, have partnered with website builder services like Weebly to allow you to build websites right through HostGator.
Ideally, if you are looking into website building tools, you’ll want to consider whether they are easy to use, if they offer the sorts of features you are looking for, and whether you will have to pay extra for adding extensions or add-ons to your site. For instance, Blue Host will require users to pay extra for add-ons, as might other providers out there. Keep an eye out and always be sure you understand what sort of features you can expect from using the service.
Can You Upload a WordPress Site?
Consider whether your website hosting provider allows you to upload or transfer a WordPress or Joomla site (and, of course, there are other website creation sites out there, but these are among the two most popular and well-recognized). If so, the upload/transfer process must be simple to understand and fairly comprehensive.
Hosting providers that don’t offer this service at all aren’t highly recommended. The best web hosting providers provide plenty of options for users, whether that’s by creating a site through their service or by uploading a site they’ve made with another provider.
Shared Web Hosting
Shared hosting, or hosting multiple domains on the same server, is an option many web hosting providers will offer in order to drive costs down. Some hosting services make this the only option. And while shared hosting is what will serve the needs of most users, you’ll want to consider whether it fits you individually. If you are a software provider, in need of bolstered security, or expect to receive high volumes of traffic, shared hosting may not be the best option for you.
Virtual private server hosting, or VPS hosting, is a service that enables users to enjoy the benefits of owning their own server without the cost and space necessary to set one up locally. This has many benefits for advanced users.
VPS hosting offers greater privacy, as your do not have to share your server with anyone else. It is also fully customizable, allowing you to use whatever operating system you choose. Because it is controlled by you, you can choose when to restart the system without affecting anyone else. This kind of dedicated resource is crucial for high-traffic or highly technical sites.
All of the best web hosting services should offer email. Not all hosting services are created equal in this regard. Some only offer one measly email address, others offer hundreds. Consider whether or not having multiple email addresses is important to you. If you are a small business you’ll want to have separate email addresses for each facet of your company (public relations, sales, customer support, etc.), but this may not be so important to you if you, say, just have a personal website. Do plenty of research and compare email prices.
Site Hosting Uptime
So what is uptime anyway? When considering websites, it’s actually a lot simpler than you’d think. This means all the time your website spends online. To put it even more simply, it’s whenever your website can be visited and viewed. The opposite is downtime, or whenever a website can’t be visited (and we’ve all experienced frustration when a site we were trying to visit can’t be viewed).
Review your potential website hosting service’s uptime ratings. Ideally, it should be 99% or more. This shows that not only is a hosting service reliable but they’re able to guard themselves against server issues and other potential downtime threats. The more uptime, the better.
Hopefully this should seem pretty straightforward but your website hosting provider must offer comprehensive customer service. After all, not everyone who is looking to build a website knows everything there is to know about owning or hosting one. Customer service should be easy to reach. Ideally, you should be able to contact customer service via phone, email, or online chat and they should have continual availability. Watch out for providers that have limited service. Chances are likely that they won’t be particularly helpful or suitable for your needs.
How much your website hosting service costs is absolutely key. But it should not be the only factor you consider when finding a place to host your website. Remember, sometimes the cheapest service isn’t the best one for you. But on the other hand, don’t dismiss a cheap host service just because it offers a very low price. It may still be a decent service.
Lots of hosting services will offer special promotions throughout the year so keep an eye out. You may be able to snag up to a few months or even a year of low cost web hosting.
It’s always a smart idea to price shop. Consider what features differ from service to service. Many services will also offer various premium tiers, so you’ll want to consider whether premium or VIP levels of service offer features that are vital to the way you are looking to run your website.
Bandwidth and Storage
Bandwidth, for instance, is a measurement of the amount of data that your website can transfer at any one time. Some web hosting services offer limited bandwidth per month. Others, like Dream Host, offer supposedly unlimited bandwidth. Why should you care about bandwidth? The more bandwidth, the more data you can transmit. Generally, when a hosting service offers high bandwidth, you can expect faster loading times and consistent connections.
On average, most sites will only use about 10G of bandwidth per month. But if you have exceptionally heavy traffic or lots of pages, you may need to consider plans that offer over 20G or more.
Some Services to Consider
If you’re still not sure who might be a good choice to host your website, here are a few options you can consider.
InMotion Hosting has been around for over fourteen years. They have an A+ rating with the Better Business Bureau and are known for their feature-rich web hosting service. Part of their popularity rests on the fact that InMotion is committed to an open source environment. This means that it plays nice with the most popular open source programs, such as WordPress, Joomla, b2evolution, and PrestaShop.
Customer service at InMotion is highly regarded, with knowledgeable round-the-clock workers who help not only with website issues, but with billing and any other issues as well. InMotion offers many different plans, including shared and VPS hosting. This makes them a good option for small and large sites alike. Their data centers are constantly being updated and they maintain a 99.99% network uptime. Plans start at $7.99 for the most basic package and go up to $74.99 for a topped-out VPS package. The lowest rates require an annual subscription, however.
Founded in 2003, Bluehost powers over two million websites all over the world. With a team of over 750 people and the backing of Endurance International Group, Bluehost is a popular option for those seeking stability. Bluehost touts its commitment to open source, providing “hand-in-hand” help to developers using high level resources. The development team has optimized over 80 open source platforms, putting Bluehost in a league of its own. Like many other hosts, Bluehost offers 24/7 support both by phone and through live online chat. Their support workers are knowledgeable and quick to field questions.
Additionally, their uptime record is nearly perfect. Plans on Bluehost start at $6.95 per month for a shared plan, but can be as low as $3.95 per month with a three year commitment. On the downside, Bluehost does not offer a monthly plan. Those looking for VPS hosting will be content with their $119.99 per month ultimate package.
HostGator has come a long way since it began operating in 2002. Now owned by Brent Oxley, HostGator is one of the best-known web hosts. One feature that sets HostGator apart from the competition is an integrated Weebly site builder. Similar to Weebly, HostGator provides a drag-and-drop platform, allowing users to choose from pre-built sections and themes for rapid website publishing.
HostGator’s support staff is split into dedicated teams, making problem-solving simpler. The Migrations Team, for example, helps users transfer their existing site content from their former host to the HostGator servers. This, along with a high reliability rank, makes them a top choice for amateur webmasters. Plans start as low as $3.33 per month, and HostGator offers month-to-month plans, but these are not considered to be their fastest web hosting solution. They also offer VPS packages and Dedicated Server Packages that are customizable by the user.
iPage has a fairly robust hosting service. While their uptime and loading rates are not the best in the industry, they offer plenty of strong security features including anti-malware email.
Wix features a powerful web building tool, including AI site development. They’re easy to use and offer a variety of plans to suit everything from blogs to shops.
eHost is inexpensive and offers users multiple domains and reasonable uptime.
GoDaddy is reliable, offering high bandwidth and diverse email offerings.
DreamHost is noted for their unlimited bandwidth and easy-to-use site upload tools.
And, finally, 1&1 Web Hosting is especially budget-friendly due to their $.99 a month entry fee, their extensive variety of hosting packages, and powerful WordPress management tools.